Avian E. Tumengkol, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao have vowed to reaffirm their commitment to tripling bilateral trade to US$30 billion by 2010, following Monday’s signing of the Joint Statement of the ASEAN-China Commemorative Summit in Nanning, China.
In a special bilateral meeting with the Chinese leader, Yudhoyono agreed to try to attain the $30 billion target in two-way trade relations in four years, according to a top official who attended the talks.
Shortly after the meeting, presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal, in a telephone conversation with The Jakarta Post, said that both leaders were positive in their commitment and that Yudhoyono had encouraged China to take part in developing Indonesia’s energy sector.
“With President Yudhoyono’s positive commitment, Prime Minister Wen will encourage Chinese business leaders to visit Indonesia and study our energy industry,” Dino said.
He said Yudhoyono planned to boost tourism in Indonesia by increasing the number of Chinese tourists to Indonesia to about 80,000 per year and Indonesian tourists to China to about 350,000 annually.
Both leaders are looking at proposing a regular route between Guilin and Bali, Dino says.
Guilin, a historical and cultural city, is one of China’s top tourist destinations.
The two leaders also agreed to intensify their defense cooperation by way of more port visits, defense consultations and joint military exercises on maritime cooperation.
They also discussed North Korea’s nuclear drama, agreeing on close coordination at the United Nations Security Council, where China is a permanent member and to which Indonesia was recently elected as a nonpermanent member.
While addressing the China-ASEAN summit, President Yudhoyono said that ASEAN fully supported China’s constructive efforts in resolving the tension on the Korean Peninsula through the Six-Party talks.
Yudhoyono added that ASEAN and China must also work together to advance multilateralism in the international system, saying that “China and Indonesia will work very closely at the Security Council”.
The joint statement, signed by Prime Minister Wen and ASEAN leaders and commemorating the 15th anniversary of ASEAN-China relations, focused on strengthening strategic partnerships and political, security, economic, socio-cultural, regional and international cooperation.
ASEAN-China relations, Dino said, have demonstrated clearly how much China has changed in the past 30 or 40 years. Four decades ago, China’s relationship with the region was minimal, ideological and marked by conflict and suspicion, especially in Indo-China with the war in Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as diplomatic frictions with Indonesia, he said.
Dino said ASEAN leaders were discussing the advancement and broadening of the partnership and noted that ASEAN-China’s geopolitical situation had gone through positive changes.
ASEAN’s leaders have been talking about China’s peaceful rise, he said, and the joint statement in Nanning gave direction, predictability and substance to the meaning of China’s rise to Southeast Asia.
“It aims to ensure that China’s rise will have a positive impact on Southeast Asia, will help promote ASEAN’s community building and will stabilize critical elements in the region,” he told the Post.
Dino also said that China’s current disputes in the South China Sea with Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei would not impede closer engagements between it and ASEAN’s leaders.
“ASEAN and China should advance efforts to transform the South China Sea into an area of peace and cooperation,” Yudhoyono said.