Opening Remarks by H.E. Mr. Imron Cotan, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia On the Occasion of the Academic Symposium 2010 to Commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between Indonesia and China Beijing, 5 July

7/5/2010

 

 

Opening Remarks by

H.E. Mr. Imron Cotan, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia

On the Occasion of the Academic Symposium 2010 to Commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations

Between Indonesia and China

Beijing, 5 July 2010

 

 

 

Professor Jin Canrong,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

It is my distinct pleasure to be here today and deliver an opening address to such a distinguished gathering of scholars, officials, young intellectuals, and friends to discuss and deliberate an issue that is so relevant to our concerted efforts to strengthen and deepen the relations between our two countries.

 

For making this commendable forum possible, I wish to convey my heartfelt thanks to the School of International Studies of Renmin University of China, as the co-organizer and the host of this symposium.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

I am intrigued by the theme of the symposium, namely: ‘Marking 60 Years of Relations, Marching Together towards a Better Future’. It is indeed more than fitting for us to take stock of our relations. After all, the two countries have been marching together for the last six decades.

 

Albeit the relationship between Indonesia and China can be traced back to centuries ago, we are here today not to dwell upon those historical accounts. We should rather try to learn from the past and based on that to take actions to confront the today’s challenges, while having a visionary look into the future.

 

Here, I would like to quote President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s statement during his meeting with President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit several days ago. He stated: ‘China is an important partner and a good friend of Indonesia. We hope the cooperation would continue. I wish to hear anything we can do in the future.’

 

Let us now see what our countries have become and, what they will become in the future.

 

Many pundits have long predicted that China would soon become a country with a global status. Some have written many books and journals in which they referred to China, inter- alia, as ‘the emerging dragon’, ‘the new superpower’, and, ‘the power of the East’.

 

It is only candid to say that China is currently the darling of the world with whom every country would love to have a special relationship. Indonesia is no exception (Strategic Partnership, 2005).

 

Indeed, with its world’s largest population, two-digit economic growth, and more than US$ two trillion national reserve, China has become one of the global powers whose cooperation is prerequisite in order to establish a world that is stable, peaceful, and prosperous. We will not be surprised if in less than a decade China will become the largest economy in the world. Amazingly, this rapid transformation of China was only done in three decades—the fastest transformation the world ever witnessed.

 

Similarly, Indonesia is also enjoying its golden era. Media stamp the country with various references, such as: ‘a pivotal state’, ‘a political success story’, and ‘the next India’. All ends with a positive note. Indeed, Indonesia – under the leadership of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – is currently a country with a steady political order and vibrant economy.

 

Indonesia was one of the few that continued to make positive growth during the latest economic crisis. Investors are now talking about BRIICS—Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China and South Africa. It cannot be otherwise, for recently some international rating agencies, Fitch Ratings in particular, announced that Indonesia's sovereign credit rating has increased to one notch below investment grade, reflecting Indonesia's resilience to the recent global financial crisis. Better still, Indonesia is now a member of the G-20 that has become the premier forum for international economic cooperation. We are also the largest country and economy in Southeast Asia and play an active role in the regional frameworks such as ASEAN, East Asia Summit and APEC.

 

It is against this promising backdrop that Indonesia and China need to harness all of their potentials to the fullest in order to provide stability and prosperity not only for their peoples, but indeed to all in the region, for without the cooperation of these two big countries, regional stability and prosperity will be absolutely elusive. The mushrooming of bilateral ties between the two countries is therefore in the vital interests of all countries in the region.

 

And now, we come to the tough question: what next?

 

First, in the political setting. During the past two years, we received renewed calls from some quarters to revisit the current regional architecture – a broader Asia-Pacific regional design, which if we are not careful enough may dilute the central role played by the existing power-broker in the region: ASEAN.

 

Indonesia has always been forthcoming to new ideas as far as new regional architecture is concerned. And, in line with the tagline of ‘one thousand friends, zero enemies’, we are committed to actively seeking to raise the existing order to a higher level while promoting constructive political and people-to-people relations and focusing on economic development. Against this backdrop, the ASEAN Community, ASEAN+ processes, ARF, APEC and East Asia Summit constitute a multi-pronged avenue towards the formation of an East-Asia community with ASEAN playing a central role. We are glad that there is no policy cleavage between Indonesia and China in this regard, for the two have long agreed that ASEAN should continue to be the driving force in any new regional architecture.

 

While in multilateral framework, as a country keen to accentuate the shared concerns rather than the competing interests, Indonesia seeks to work side-by-side with China to be part of the solution to various global challenges, such as:  food and energy security, climate change, and transnational crime, to name  but a few.

 

Second, on the economic account. Where once financial obituaries were written about the demise of Indonesia gripped by the 1997 crisis, the country today is thriving as never before. Last year, the GDP grew up by 4.5%, topping the other G-20 members. And better still, other statistical indicators have further raised our hope that in the near future Indonesian economy will be far more robust, matching of those Chinese and Indian.

 

In order to achieve such a target, for the next five years, Indonesia will need about 2.000 – 3.000 trillion rupiah (or approximately US$ 300 billion) to finance the development of its infrastructures in various sectors, including but not limited to, transportation and agricultural sectors. During the talks between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Hu Jintao in Toronto, the Chinese side has agreed to increase its investment in the infrastructure and trade sectors so that by 2014 it is expected to reach US$50 billion.

 

Meanwhile, with the ASEAN – China FTA kicked off at the beginning of this year, a new niche of opportunity opens wide. The business communities of both sides need to make full use of the preferential policies contained therein in order to further deepen and expand our economic ties.

 

Third, the people-to-people interactions. Currently, exchanges between the two countries have become more frequent and intensified. These include official envoys, businessmen, tourists, and students. This is indeed excellent.  But, we still need to work harder, for some among us are still in muddle about Indonesia’s where-about and also vice-versa. This is a saddening concern considering the fact that Indonesia has the largest number of overseas Chinese population and China has a multitude of overseas Chinese returning from Indonesia, which, to optimistically view, are assets to foster mutual understanding. It is therefore incumbent upon us to increase and intensify the people-to-people contacts between Indonesia and China by inter-alia encouraging more visitors from this great country to come and visit Indonesia.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

As we share thoughts and exchange views in our today’s discussion, we have shown evidence of the goodwill of strengthening the ties of fraternities. It is my fervent hope that it does not stop here. It should provide a newly intertwined network and a long-lasting avenue for more intensified communication and interactions in the future.

Finally, allow me once again to extend my deepest gratitude and highest appreciation to Renmin University of China for hosting the event as well as to all who have a hand in putting together this forum.  And to all participants, I wish you every success in your important undertaking.

Thank you.