Solidarity in a time of adversity
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Indonesia. In the congratulatory messages exchanged between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indonesian President Joko Widodo in April, they both lauded the time-honored friendship between the two countries and pointed out the direction for its future development.
The two leaders expressed support for each other's country in the fight against the COVID-19 and that the two peoples extended helping hands to each other during the hard times, manifesting the sincere friendship between the two sides.
On Feb 11 when China was at the most difficult moment in its fight against the COVID-19 outburst, President Jokowi expressed sympathy and support for China in a telephone call with President Xi. He said Indonesia would stand firmly by the Chinese people and work with China to win the battle. The Indonesian government sent medical supplies to China on a plane chartered to evacuate Indonesian nationals in Wuhan, Hubei province. Indonesian people from all walks of life showed their support for China via donation, letters, videos and signatures.
When Indonesia began to battle the pandemic, President Xi extended sympathies to President Jokowi on behalf of the Chinese government and people in a phone call. The Chinese government donated two batches of medical aid, including nucleic acid test reagents, masks, protective suits and portable ventilators, the first arrived in Indonesia in March, the second in June. China's local governments, armed forces and business also reached out to Indonesia to support its fight against the pandemic.
Incomplete record shows that China has donated medical aid worth over $10 million to Indonesia, and the figure is still climbing. China has also facilitated the procurement of anti-pandemic supplies by the Indonesian government in China, and timely shared with Indonesia its Protocol on Prevention and Control of COVID-19 and the Diagnosis and Treatment Protocol for COVID-19. The Chinese government has encouraged the two countries' enterprises to join hands in developing COVID-19 vaccines, with related companies from the two sides already planning on phase III clinical trials. China's health experts have shared their experience in prevention and control as well as treatment of COVID-19 via videoconferences with their Indonesian counterparts multiple times.
As pandemic prevention and control has become a "new normal" for countries around the world, how to adapt to the new situation while advancing social and economic development has emerged as a pressing issue for China and Indonesia.
The two sides have enhanced their strategic communication under the guidance of the two leaders. The two countries have discussed establishing a fast lane for travelers with immediate needs as well as a green channel for transportation of crucial supplies in order to facilitate the restart of key partnership projects. The two sides have also carried out a new round of negotiations on foreign policies via videoconferences, exchanging views on issues such as global collaboration on fighting against the pandemic and cooperation to reinvigorate regional economy amid the pandemic.
As a flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative, construction of the high-speed railway from Jakarta to Bandung has not been disrupted by the pandemic, although the construction companies have had to overcome many challenges to keep the project moving ahead. The Chinese contractors have surmounted obstacles such as lack of staff and equipment and stringent pandemic containment measures, and made steady progress in construction of the railway.
Foreign trade between the two countries has also fared well despite the headwinds. Online expositions such as the China Import and Export Fair have created new cooperation opportunities for companies from the two sides. Investments have been promoted through online talks and videoconferences. Chinese enterprises in Indonesia actively adapted themselves to market changes, providing online services and door-to-door services to customers. From January to April, trade volume between the two countries reached $24.1 billion, a slight year-on-year drop of 0.5 percent. In the first quarter, China's foreign direct investment in Indonesia topped $1.3 billion, an increase of 12 percent year-on-year, making it the second-largest source of foreign investment in Indonesia. These development are even more valuable against the backdrop of the global pandemic.
As President Xi has stressed, only through solidarity and cooperation can the global community defeat the pandemic and safeguard the common home of all people. China will continue to support Indonesia in its fight against the virus and work with Indonesia on the development of vaccines, therapies and testing technology, the joint production of medical equipment and building a global community of health for all mankind.
Since the two countries established diplomatic relations seven decades ago, especially over recent years, the ties between the two sides has been brought to higher levels continuously with fields of cooperation expanded. The Belt and Road Initiative has yielded rich benefits for the two peoples. In the future, the two countries will strengthen the synergy of their development strategies with deepening cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Maritime Fulcrum strategy, Indonesia's grand maritime vision, and enhancing cooperation in healthcare, resumption of business and production and other areas concerning people's livelihoods.
China and Indonesia are both champions of multilateralism. With the pandemic profoundly changing the world, the two countries will deepen coordination and communication under global and regional frameworks such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, G20 and East Asia Cooperation, resolutely safeguard the global governance system with the UN at the core, and fully support the WHO in fighting against the pandemic. The two countries will firmly oppose any effort to make political maneuvers and label the virus so as to hold up justice and fairness in the world.
Facing new opportunities in this new era, further development of china-Indonesia friendship will make greater contribution to peace and development in the region and beyond.
The author is the Chinese ambassador to Indonesia. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.