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Jakarta Post

The struggle to define the Belt and Road Initiative in Indonesia

  • Ko Lyn Cheang

    The Jakarta Post

PREMIUM
Jakarta   /   Wed, July 24, 2019   /  03:57 pm
The Jakarta Post Image
President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo (left) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, during the welcome ceremony for the Belt and Road Forum at the International Conference Center in Yanqi Lake, north of Beijing, on May 15, 2017.(AFP Photo/Roman Pilipey/Pool)

In 2015, when President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo unveiled an ambitious plan to build the roads, ports and railways desperately needed to advance Indonesia’s economy, he realized that he could not rely on domestic funds alone for the targeted US$465 billion of investment by 2019. Back then, Chinese investment to Indonesia was low, lagging behind even Malaysia. But within five years, China went from being a peripheral investor in the Indonesian economy to Indonesia’s third-largest investor. Four years later, $10.2 billion of the initial investment goal has been contributed by Chinese investors. While Jokowi was preparing for economic revitalization, Chinese President Xi Jinping was courting governments across Asia to join his flagship Belt and Road Initiative. Whether the significant leap in Chinese investment in Indonesia since 2016 can be directly linked to t...