Jakarta – The strategic partnership between Indonesia and China, first forged in April this year, looks set to deepen further. An official visit by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to China last week saw the two governments sealing multi-billion-dollar deals on investment, defence technology and education.
The five pacts signed cover research and development in defence technology; donations to tsunami-hit regions; economic and technical cooperation; a general loan agreement of US$100 million worth of Preferential Buyer’s Credit; and Chinese-language teaching support. The two countries also agreed to increase their trade from US$14 billion to US$30 billion by 2010.
Indonesia is one of only a few countries to be offered the "strategic partnership" by China. Analysts say China hopes that stronger ties with Asean's biggest country will widen its political and economic clout in the region, and further isolate Taiwan. Beijing is also hoping to have closer military ties with Jakarta, taking advantage of the current American ban on arms sales to Indonesia.
The latter, on the other hand, is banking on the China connection to help boost its economy. President Yudhoyno noted that China's current GDP is US$1 trillion, compared to Indonesia's US$200 billion.
Indonesian specialist Aris Ananta, from Singapore's Institute of South-east Asian Studies, told The Straits Times: "It is a win-win partnership, and its benefits will spill over to other countries in South-east Asia."
Mr Hadi Soesastro, the executive director of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, believes that as China's strategic partner, Indonesia can help improve Asia's political climate, which has been affected, to a certain extent, by the bad blood between China and Japan.
Mr Soesastro said: "Indonesia is capable of playing a constructive role in this area because of its 'strategic position' -that is its good political relations with bothChina and Japan."
* Indonesia and China forge strategic partnership (The Straits Times, July 29)
*RI, China to increase trade to US$30 billion by 2010 (Antara, July 28)
* The reality behind the Indonesia-China ‘strategic partnership’ (Kompas, Aug 1)