A decade of economic partnership
28 Aug 2023


As Indonesia and China build on past successes, the future promises further strengthening of ties, and meaningful contributions to regional and global development


Over the past 10 years, the partnership between Indonesia and China has been undergoing a remarkable transformation through Indonesia's participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, aiming to enhance its economic connectivity and foster cooperation between the two countries. The initiative has woven a tapestry of collaboration between two of Asia's most influential economies. As we reflect on this decadelong journey, it becomes evident that the Indonesia-China partnership has brought forth significant economic advancements.


The Belt and Road Initiative's inception marked a turning point in Indonesia-China relations, catalyzing a renewed focus on business and economic synergy. Endowed with abundant natural resources and a growing consumer market, Indonesia has become an attractive partner for China's vision of cross-border connectivity.


At the heart of the Indonesia-China economic partnership lies infrastructure development. The Belt and Road Initiative's core principle of infrastructure development resonated strongly with Indonesia's aspiration to bridge its infrastructure gap and foster economic growth, especially during the first term of Joko Widodo's presidency (2014-19). Chinese investments have facilitated several crucial infrastructure projects, such as ports, highways, railways and energy facilities. The Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, a flagship project, is set to redefine travel and trade between the two nations, promising to reduce travel time and enhance logistics efficiency.


The Belt and Road Initiative has also enabled Indonesia to strengthen its position as a regional trade hub. Enhanced connectivity through upgraded ports and transportation networks has expedited the movement of goods, thus benefiting businesses and consumers alike. China's vast market and Indonesia's strategic geographic location have paved the way for increased trade and investment, promoting economic integration within the Southeast Asian region and the Asia Pacific.


Beyond economic benefits, the Indonesia-China partnership has fostered cultural exchanges and people-to-people connectivity, including a human capacity-building program that aligns with the main focus of the second term of Widodo's presidency (2019-24).Various initiatives, such as student exchange programs, cultural festivals, and joint research projects, have deepened mutual understanding, friendship, and capacity enhancement between the two nations. These cultural ties can potentially form lasting bonds that transcend economic interests.


Indonesia and China should notably invest in capacity-building endeavors to empower their use of economic cooperation advantages. This might encompass bolstering businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises, through training and guidance, aiding them in comprehending and navigating the novel trade regulations and prospects stemming from the accord. The implementation of technical assistance programs can further refine customs processes and streamline trade protocols.


While the Indonesia-China partnership has undeniably yielded substantial benefits, it has also given rise to challenges. Ensuring the equitable distribution of benefits, addressing environmental concerns, and upholding transparency in project execution stand as pivotal considerations. Addressing these challenges collectively will enable both countries to unlock the full potential of their partnership. Embracing environmental concerns is crucial to sustainable development. Thus, the Indonesia-China partnership should champion joint efforts in renewable energy projects and green infrastructure development, underlining a commitment to balancing economic growth with ecological preservation.


Against this backdrop, two fundamental pillars warrant attention to expedite the benefits of the Indonesia-China economic partnership.


First, outreach and communication play a paramount role. A proactive approach to outreach and communication between the two countries is pivotal to raising awareness about the advantages of economic cooperation, specifically regarding the Belt and Road Initiative and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, among diverse stakeholders ranging from businesses to consumers. Hosting platforms such as workshops, seminars, and trade expos can effectively highlight the opportunities generated by this partnership. Maintaining continuous, accessible communication channels will prove indispensable in disseminating information and providing updates on the unfolding narrative of the Indonesia-China partnership.


Second, implementation and compliance hold paramount significance. The urgency lies in promptly implementing the tenets of economic cooperation and the two countries adhering unwaveringly to their commitments. This obligation necessitates dismantling trade barriers, rationalizing tariffs, and harmonizing regulations. To ensure accountability, establishing vigilant monitoring mechanisms and structured reporting systems can track progress while highlighting areas ripe for enhancement.


Indonesia's role as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' chairman this year, particularly its earnest commitment to advancing RCEP, instills optimism for accelerated regional progress. Unlocking the latent gains of RCEP and propelling economic growth mandate member states' intensified outreach, communication, implementation, and compliance efforts. Upholding these foundational principles will pave a smoother path for heightened collaboration and cooperation between Indonesia and China.


As we commemorate a decade of the Indonesia-China partnership, it is clear that the journey has been transformative. The partnership has gone beyond mere infrastructure development. It has also nurtured mutual respect, cultural exchanges, and economic growth. With new opportunities on the horizon, including digital connectivity and sustainable development, the next decade promises even more significant strides.


The Indonesia-China partnership stands as a testament to the power of international cooperation in shaping the destiny of nations. The past 10 years have seen Indonesia and China moving hand in hand toward a future of shared prosperity, underlining the significance of sustained dialogue, mutual trust, and collaborative efforts. As both countries continue to build on past successes, the next decade holds the promise of further strengthening their ties and making meaningful contributions to regional and global development.


Source: China Daily