Good Neighbors, Good Friends and Good Partners
Category: Issues & Ideas By : Taufik Darusman Read : 683 Date : Wednesday, February 08, 2017 - 11:59:41




Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

A career diplomat, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to Indonesia Xie Feng (53) has spent most of his time dwelling on American affairs at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has served a total of five years in Washington in two separate stints. His last post was Director-General of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs before his appointment, in 2014, as ambassador to Indonesia. In an interview with Forbes Indonesia at his official residence in Kuningan, Central Jakarta, the ambassador discussed wide-ranging bilateral issues in an open and frank manner. On the 10 million ethnic Chinese Indonesians residing in the country, for example, Xie said that while they have deep cultural and emotional roots with their ancestors in China, “they are first and foremost Indonesian citizens and should abide by Indonesian laws.” He added that: “The presence of so many ethnic Chinese Indonesians here actually helps China and Indonesia understand each other’s culture.” While an ambassador’s term is usually three years, this Ambassador noted that he looks forward to serving longer in the country. “Indonesia is a very suitable country for me,” said Xie. “China and Indonesia will always be good neighbors, good friends and good partners.”

Excerpts:

FORBES INDONESIA: How would you describe China-Indonesia relations?  

XIE FENG: As good neighbors, good friends and good partners, China and Indonesia share broad common interests. Our relations go back over 600 years, when Zheng He, the famous Chinese navigator and diplomat, visited Java six times and opened trade. Since the comprehensive strategic partnership was established in 2013, China and Indonesia have achieved rapid development in bilateral relations marked by frequent high-level exchanges and deepening mutual trust.

President Xi Jinping and President Joko Widodo have worked together to synchronize the 21st century maritime silk road initiative with the global maritime fulcrum strategy. Construction of major flagship projects, including the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, is underway as well as mutually beneficial cooperation in infrastructure, production capacity, trade, investment, finance and e-commerce. 

For five consecutive years, China has been Indonesia’s largest trading partner. China is now the largest source of overseas tourists for Indonesia. They spent an average of $1,107, contributing over $2 billion to the economy.

Last year, relevant government agencies of both countries agreed to increase the existing bilateral currency swap agreement to RMB 130 billion. Three Indonesian state-owned banks, including Bank Mandiri, have received a loan commitment worth $3 billion from the China Development Bank. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) offered a $500 million in loans to the Indonesian Eximbank. ICBC Indonesia also signed an MoU with the Indonesian National Savings Bank to provide RMB 5 billion lending support.

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