China, Indonesia pledge deeper ties after rare Beijing summit

China, Indonesia pledge deeper ties after rare Beijing summit

BEIJING, July 26 (Reuters) – The leaders of China and Indonesia pledged on Tuesday to scale up bilateral trade and expand cooperation in areas such as agriculture and food security, following a rare visit to COVID-wary China by a foreign head of state.

China and Indonesia believe their relations have great strategic significance and far-reaching global influence, the Chinese foreign ministry said after a meeting of the countries’ leaders.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo met Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Tuesday. The last time China hosted foreign leaders was during the Winter Olympics in February, with Russian President Vladimir Putin among those who visited Beijing in a highly guarded bubble.

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Travel by foreign dignitaries to China has been exceedingly rare since the new coronavirus pandemic broke out over two years ago, with Chinese borders largely shut due to domestic COVID concerns.

Indonesia, one of China’s biggest trading partners, is an important source of ferronickel, coal, copper and natural gas for the world’s second-largest economy.

In the first half of 2022, Chinese imports from Indonesia, mostly commodities, surged 34.2% on year, the most after Russia.

China has expressed commitment to import an additional one million tonnes of crude palm oil from Indonesia, said the Indonesian state palace after a meeting between Jokowi and Li.

Jokowi met Li and Xi at the historic Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, part of a sprawling complex of villas, lakes and gardens where many foreign leaders, including the late U.S. President Richard Nixon, have been received.

‘COMMUNICATION BRIDGE’

As president of the G20 this year Jokowi has sought to mend rifts within the group exposed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Last month he travelled to Ukraine to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and also to Moscow to hold talks with President Putin. Jokowi said Indonesia was willing to be a “communication bridge” between the two. read more

China, while not condemning its strategic partner Russia for the invasion, has repeatedly called for a cessation of hostilities and has offered to help promote peace talks.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who was part of the travelling delegation, said Xi had appreciated Jokowi’s peace efforts such as his trips to Kyiv and Moscow.

“The visits were deemed by President Xi as Indonesia’s responsibility as a big country,” the Indonesian state palace cited Retno as saying.

Both Indonesia and Russia are part of the G20, with the former holding the group’s presidency this year. Some G20 member states have threatened to boycott this year’s leaders summit, on the island of Bali on Nov. 15-16, if Putin attends.

Earlier G20 meetings this year have focused on global food security and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”. read more

The war in Ukraine has caused major disruptions to global trade, with prices of grain and wheat soaring amid a blockade of Ukrainian seaports and sanctions on Russian commodities such as oil, gas and fertiliser.

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Reporting by Ryan Woo; Additional reporting by Stanley Widianto in Jakarta and Stella Qiu in Beijing; Editing by Michael Perry, William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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