Indonesian President-Elect Prabowo visits China

BEIJING/JAKARTA — In a significant diplomatic encounter, Chinese President Xi Jinping warmly received Indonesian President-elect Prabowo Subianto at the Great Hall of the People on Monday. This historic meeting marks Prabowo’s first foreign trip since his victory in Indonesia’s presidential election earlier this year.

Strengthening Bilateral Relations

President Xi congratulated Prabowo on his electoral success and underscored the high quality of recent bilateral cooperation between China and Indonesia. Notably, projects like the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway exemplify the robust ties between the two nations. Prabowo, in turn, expressed his unwavering commitment to continuing the friendship policy with China initiated by outgoing President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

Key Topics on the Agenda

During their discussions, the leaders explored several critical areas of cooperation:

  1. Economy and Trade: Both sides emphasized the need to enhance economic ties. Prabowo expressed his support for strengthening trade relations and exploring new avenues for investment.
  2. Maritime Security: Given Indonesia’s strategic location in the Indo-Pacific region, maritime security remains a priority. The leaders discussed ways to collaborate to ensure safe sea lanes, combat piracy, and protect vital maritime interests.
  3. Defense Industry Cooperation: Prabowo acknowledged China as a key defense partner for Indonesia. Plans to boost defense industry collaboration were on the table, signaling a deepening of military ties.
  4. Governance Experience: Prabowo expressed eagerness to learn from the Chinese Communist Party’s governance experience. China’s remarkable economic growth and effective governance have caught Indonesia’s attention.
  5. One-China Policy: Prabowo reaffirmed Jakarta’s commitment to the one-China policy, recognizing the importance of maintaining stable cross-strait relations.
  6. Global Issues: The leaders commended each other’s stances on global matters, including the Palestinian question. China’s contributions to Indonesia’s economic growth were also acknowledged.
Strategic Calculations

Prabowo’s early visit to China defies convention, as newly elected heads of state typically refrain from overseas trips before their inauguration. China’s prompt engagement with Prabowo reflects Beijing’s keenness to secure Jakarta’s favor, especially amidst escalating tensions in the South China Sea. With the United States and China vying for influence in Southeast Asia, Indonesia plays a pivotal role. By fostering strong ties with Prabowo, China aims to ensure continuity in Indonesia’s China policy under Jokowi’s successor.

As the trilateral summit involving the United States, Japan, and the Philippines looms, China’s outreach to Indonesia underscores its commitment to maintaining a balance of power in the region. The meeting between Xi Jinping and Prabowo sets the stage for a new chapter in China-Indonesia relations —one that bridges tradition, pragmatism, and shared aspirations. (zai)