Hassan Wirajuda: The Belt and Road Initiative turns from ideas into actions

2023年12月01日 09:28   21世纪经济报道 21财经APP   胡慧茵,李依农

南方财经全媒体记者胡慧茵 李依农 印尼雅加达报道

Throughout the past decade, Indonesia's involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative has not only bolstered its economic connectivity but also forged even closer bonds between China and Indonesia.

Hassan Wirajuda, the former Indonesian Foreign Minister, has visited China many times and witnessed how China is contributing to Indonesia's rise through the BRI. In an exclusive interview with SFC, he is committed to promoting exchanges and cooperation between China and Indonesia in various fields.

Hassan Wirajuda said that, “the Belt and Road Initiative turns from ideas into actions”, adding that China's economic growth has become an engine that drives the economic development of other developing countries.

SFC Markets and Finance: In your opinion, what changes have taken place in China?

Hassan Wirajuda: It was my honor to make several visits to China. I first visited China in 1992. At that time, I attended a conference in Beijing and stayed in one of the few hotels there. One day, I looked down from the 10th floor and saw thousands of bikes but very few cars on the streets. Besides, nearly everyone was wearing a dark coat. Now, decades have passed, and all is different. In today's Beijing, you may find only one or two bikes running among thousands of cars, which is in stark contrast to 20 years ago. As we can see, since the reform and opening-up, great changes have taken place in China.

The term of “Chinese modernization” dates back to 1979. I think it's a very practical strategy putting less emphasis on the ideology and more emphasis on economic development. After sticking to this practical strategy and putting in enough effort for just 40 years, China now has made remarkable progress in economy. We can see since then, China has gradually become a superpower. During the four-decade reform and opening-up, China has made extraordinary achievements. As its neighbor and an Asian country, we are amazed at China's progress.

SFC Markets and Finance: China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative and is working on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridors project in Indonesia. How do you consider the results of the current and future China-Indonesia cooperation?

Hassan Wirajuda: Just like many other developing countries, before China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, developing countries were very dependent on the World Bank's assistance and cooperation. So the Belt and Road Initiative has provided developing countries with another choice, so that we can get cooperation for our own infrastructure construction. It seems that the funds provided by the Belt and Road Initiative could exceed the World Bank's investment. 

Countries that still need substantial infrastructure construction should cooperate with each other under the Belt and Road Initiative. The initiative is more than a theory. It needs to be implemented in practice. For example, under the initiative, Indonesia has built a high-speed railway connecting Jakarta and Bandung. Moreover, the government were reputedly considering extending this high-speed railway to the east end of Java Island. China and Indonesia also have cooperation in the industrial field, like mining and smelting. With support from China, relevant projects have been launched and yielded some results. 

Besides, I think Indonesia and China are complementary in many ways. On the one hand, Indonesia is abundant in natural resources. We need funds and technologies to exploit these resources to help our people live a better life.

On the other hand, as a rapidly developing country, China has accumulated a lot of funds and technologies. On this basis, we can cooperate with each other for mutual benefits. That's exactly what we are doing.

Remarkably, Indonesia and China have established a strategic partnership since 2005. In October 2013, the bilateral relationship was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership, which proved that our strategic partnership had been successful over the previous eight years. This also explains the bilateral relations’ upgrade which is aimed at expanding and strengthening China-Indonesia cooperation in all fields.

SFC Markets and Finance: What do you think of China-Indonesia trade and its future development?

Hassan Wirajuda: It's interesting that ten ASEAN countries signed cooperation, trade and investment agreements with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. Before that, free trade framework agreements of this kind were aimed at increasing and promoting trade activities between Asian countries. So actually, Asian countries have very strong trade ties with each other. 

Therefore, it is not surprising that trade statistics between Indonesia and China have increased many times and surpassed the bilateral trade statistics between Indonesia and the United States. This is extremely remarkable. It's not just about trade between Indonesia and China. It's something important to all ASEAN countries. What I mean is China's economic growth and development has become an engine attracting other developing countries to work together to spur their economic development.

SFC Markets and Finance: What are the key areas where China and Indonesia can cooperate and make breakthroughs in your opinion?

Hassan Wirajuda: There are many new cooperation areas that we've never expected before. For example, nickel plays an important role in electric automobile manufacturing. Indonesia has a large nickel reserve, but we need China's technologies and funds for the further processing of this mineral resource. The bilateral cooperation in this area was just unimaginative before. 

Now, Indonesia and China also have practical cooperation in the green energy field. In addition, our bilateral cooperation has made breakthroughs in the health field. During the COVID-19 pandemic, drugs or vaccines became one of the solutions, thus leading to a global shortage of vaccines and medical facilities. 

Today, China has become an important vaccine supplier of Indonesia, helping the vaccination of 280 million people. Thanks to good cooperation between the two countries, Indonesia got vaccines from China, which was a big help at that critical moment. The good bilateral relationship is also the basis of our cooperation at critical moments.

策划:于晓娜   

监制:施诗

责任编辑:和佳

记者:胡慧茵 李依农 

制作:蔡于恬

新媒体统筹:丁青云 曾婷芳 赖禧 黄达迅

海外运营监制: 黄燕淑

海外运营内容统筹: 张然

海外运营编辑:唐双艳 吴婉婕

海外项目经理:庄欢

海外商务合作: 黄子豪

出品:南方财经全媒体集团

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