BEIJING–Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) here on Monday expressed belief that Southeast Asian countries would contribute significantly to the realization of the new Silk Road initiative.
“As a matter of fact, one of the strategic frameworks in my governments vision and mission is to make Indonesia a global maritime axis,” he stated at a Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation round-table discussion at the Yangqi Lake International Conference Center.
Jokowi said Indonesia, as the worlds largest maritime economic zone located between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, has a strategic and important role in it.
Addressing 28 heads of state and government as well as chiefs of international organizations at the meeting, President Jokowi elaborated on the current condition in the context of his efforts to realize the vision of transforming the nation into a global maritime axis.
Jokowi also highlighted the countrys abundant natural resources and scenic tourist destinations from Aceh in the west to Papua in the east.
“The distance between the westernmost part of the archipelago and the easternmost is equal to the distance between London and Dubai or Los Angeles and New York. The vast Indonesian archipelago and waters are full of natural resources and tourist spots,” he said as quoted by Head of the Press, Media, and Information Bureau of the Presidential Secretariat Bey Machmudin.
The president believed that the countrys potentials are yet to be exploited optimally due to the lack of adequate infrastructure.
He said efforts have been made to improve the condition through a reduction of up to 80 percent in oil subsidy.
“Hence, the biggest infrastructure development in the countrys history has been carried out,” he pointed out.
While drawing reference to swift development in regions, such as North Sumatra and North Sulawesi, Jokowi noted that within the last two years, the people have borne witness to the results of the development efforts.
“North Sumatra, which is the western part of the Indonesian archipelago and also the entry gate to the Strait of Malacca, has now developed fast as a palm oil processing center and oleochemical industry. In the region, we have Lake Toba situated in a mountain that is being visited by increasing more number of tourists,” he stated.
On the other hand, North Sulawesi, is located close to the southern part of the Philippines, is currently also emerging as a new local and foreign tourist destination, he remarked.
President Jokowi and Philippine President Duterte recently inaugurated a shipping route from Davao and General Santos to North Sulawesi.
“Since last year, several Indonesian airline companies have started operating direct flights from China to North Sulawesi to increase the number of Chinese visitors to the region from 12 thousand per year to 12 thousand per month,” he emphasized.
More airline companies have expressed interest to start operating flights to North Sumatra and North Sulawesi. The two provinces have provided a new opportunity for investors.
“Hence, we wish to invite you all to also connect your shipping lines and flights to the two entry gates in the western and northern parts of Indonesia. I believe what the world needs now are concrete projects,” he affirmed.
President Jokowi expressed belief that the vision of international connectivity and cooperation under the Belt and Road Forum initiative would be realized.
In view of this, he called on all heads of state to jointly showcase the development efforts being undertaken to realize the vision.
“As has been conveyed by President Xi Jinping yesterday morning, our vision will be realized step by step. Seeing is believing. Let us demonstrate to the world that we will seriously realize our vision concretely,” he noted.
During a bilateral meeting, President Jokowi and President Xi Jinping witnessed the signing of three cooperation agreements between Indonesia and China including that on the implementation of a comprehensive strategic partnership for the 2017-2021 period by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.
The second agreement for economic and technical cooperation was signed by National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro and Chinese Trade Minister Zhong Shan.
The third agreement worth USD 4.498 billion for the development of the Jakarta-Bandung fast railway project was signed by President Director of PT KCIC Hanggoro and President Director of the China National Development Bank Hu Huaibang.