Indonesia-China cooperation key to economic development

Indonesia-China cooperation key to economic development

Despite staggering economic growth and phenomenal technological advancements since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century until 2019, the Western development model, capitalism, has failed to lift much of the world’s population out of poverty and hunger.

Today the number of the world’s poor has climbed to 3 billion, extremely poor 1.5 billion and 1 billion are hungry. As of today, barely half the world’s poorest have electricity, and only one in five have access to the internet.

Western capitalism has also been the root cause of the widening economic inequality both within and among countries of the world.

The ever-increasing wealth concentration is dangerous because it threatens human progress, social cohesion, human rights and democracy. A world in which wealth is concentrated in a few hands is also a world in which military and political powers are controlled by a few and used by them for their own benefits.

As the wealth gap and the power gap grow, mistrust, resentment and anger inevitably deepen, pushing the world toward social upheaval and increasing the likelihood of armed conflict among nations.

More alarmingly is the fact that the past 270 years of economic growth have also caused massive environmental degradation that has resulted in a triple ecological crisis of environmental pollution, biodiversity loss and global warming.

Furthermore, since the first Industrial Revolution, the Earth’s temperature has increased by 1.2 degrees Celsius, compared with the pre-industrial global temperature.  If the temperature increase is higher than 1.5 degrees, then the negative impacts of global climate change such as heat waves, extreme weather, devastating droughts and wildfires, sea level rise, storms and floods, ocean acidification, declining food production and disease outbreaks will be unmanageable.

The existential challenge for mankind in the 21st century is then how to produce food, clothing, housing, pharmaceutical products, minerals, water, energy and other resources to meet the ever-increasing human demand; and at the same time resolve the triple ecological crisis. Another existential challenge is how to generate global economic growth to provide enough jobs for the ever-growing labor force in an inclusive, environmentally friendly and sustainable way.

At this juncture, China’s development paradigm based upon four pillars; cooperation, harmony, peace and development, with its vision of “a shared peace and prosperity for the world” could be an alternative model for building a better, inclusive, peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.

By adopting these four pillars, in the last four decades China has passed on the successes and benefits of its development and modernization to the world through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative, which are considered public goods offered by the Chinese nation to the global community.

China’s rapid economic growth, and long-term social stability and prosperity have been widely viewed as a miracle in the history of human development. Over the past 100 years or so, the Chinese nation has transformed itself from being impoverished and backward into the world’s second-largest economy, the top trader in goods, the biggest holder of foreign exchange reserves and the biggest manufacturer.

China has put in place the world’s largest compulsory education system, social security system and medical and health system, achieving in just a few decades industrialization that took developed countries several centuries to realize. China has inspired many developing countries to seek their own model to develop their economy; master and apply science, technology and innovations; reduce poverty; and transform into developed, prosperous and sovereign nations.

When visiting Kazakhstan and Indonesia in September and October 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared the initiative of jointly developing the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, hereinafter referred to as the BRI.

The BRI originated in China, but it belongs to the world. It focuses on Asia, Europe and Africa, but is also open to all partners. It spans different countries and regions, different cultures and religions, and different customs and lifestyles.

Under the BRI, all participating nations are galvanized under the common goal of seeking mutually beneficial and sustainable socio-economic transformative partnerships. By the end of March 2019, the Chinese government had signed 173 cooperation agreements with 125 countries and 29 international organizations.

Since the inception of BRI in 2013, more than 3,000 cooperation projects have been launched, involving about US$1 trillion in investment and creating 420,000 jobs in participating countries.

Cooperation between Indonesia and China has dramatically increased in almost all aspects of human and economic development since the Reform Era and the administration of late president Abdurrahman Wahid in 1999. In the last two decades, China has been the most important partner for Indonesia, particularly in economic development, investment and trade.

Under the auspices of China’s BRI and Indonesia’s World Maritime Fulcrum, our two beloved nations have developed mutual cooperation in infrastructure, for example ports, roads, the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway; mining and energy including renewable and clean energy (electric vehicles); manufacturing industry; digital technology and connectivity; maritime (blue) economy; tourism and creative economy; research and development; and education and training.

Therefore, I am strongly confident that the initiative of “Two Countries, Twin Parks” (TCTP) between China and Indonesia, which basically covers a joint development of industrial estates in China and Indonesia, will strengthen and enhance maritime connectivity between the two countries, boost investment and trade, and deepen and enhance people-to-people interaction and cooperation. The partnership will also benefit the rest of the world.

Industrial areas in China focus on the Fuzhou Yuanhong Investment Zone with a total area of 60 square kilometers. Meanwhile, in Indonesia there are three industrial zones: Bintan Industrial Estate, Aviarna Industrial Estate and Batang Industrial Park, which cover 87.6 sq. km combined.

Indonesia and Fujian province have five sister provinces and cities, such as Fujian province and Central Java; Fuzhou and Semarang; Xiamen and Surabaya; Zhangzhou and Palembang; and Fuqing and Malang.

Last January, the Chinese State Council approved the development of the China-Indonesia Exposition Zone based on the TCTP to boost inclusive and sustainable economic growth in both countries by capitalizing on science and technological innovations originating in Fuzhou. China’s Ministry of Trade has included the TCTP China-Indonesia in the Chinese 14th Five-Year Development Plan. Furthermore, the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission has considered the China-Indonesia TCTP as one the most important backbones of cooperation under the auspices of the 21st Maritime Silk Road.

China, the world’s most populous country and second-largest economy, and Indonesia, the fourth most populous nation and the 16th biggest economy, will play a role model of mutual cooperation for the global community if they succeed in implementing their win-win partnership deal while working together to achieve United Nations sustainable development goals.


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