Shared call for ceasefire

Solid ties: Prabowo (left) directing Wang after signing the guest book during their meeting in Jakarta. — Reuters

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his successor Prabowo Subianto as Beijing seeks to boost its regional influence.

The meetings yesterday come after Prabowo visited Beijing this month where Chinese President Xi Jinping praised relations with Jakarta, laying out a vision for regional peace as tensions rise between Beijing and other South-East Asian neighbours, including the Philippines, over the disputed South China Sea.

Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo stormed to a first-round majority victory in Indonesia’s presidential election in February.

He has voiced support for developing closer ties with Beijing.

Wang also met Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi earlier yesterday before visiting Widodo, more popularly known as Jokowi, at the presidential palace and then Prabowo at the Defence Ministry.

Retno said Jokowi and Wang expressed their desire for regional peace and stability, repeating calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“China’s and Indonesia’s position are the same on this issue.

“Mr President also conveyed his belief that China would also use its influence to prevent escalation,” she told reporters after the meeting.

Beijing’s top diplomat will chair a session of the China-Indonesia High-level Dialogue Cooperation Mechanism today before travelling to Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.

China is one of the biggest sources of foreign direct investment in Indonesia and has poured billions of dollars into projects in the archipelagic nation.

Indonesia’s foreign policy is typically neutral – Jakarta walks a delicate diplomatic tightrope in its relations between Beijing and Washington, who are chafing over trade, Ukraine, the Middle East, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Chinese firms have ploughed money into extracting Indonesian natural resources in recent years, particularly the nickel sector where Beijing’s spending has stoked unrest over pay and working conditions. — AFP

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