Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged increased maritime cooperation during the formers visit to China.
The joint statement issued after his meeting with Xi noted that “the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, proposed by President Xi Jinping, and the Strategy of the Global Maritime Fulcrum initiated by President Joko Widodo are complementary.” The statement also said that the two countries would develop a “maritime partnership.”
According to the statement, China and Indonesia agreed
to strengthen strategy and policy communication, advance maritime infrastructure connectivity, deepen cooperation in industrial investment and major project construction, and enhance practical cooperation to develop a "maritime partnership" together.
Beijing has already pledged $40 billion in funding for ports, inter-island telecommunications and other projects that accord with Widodo's vision of Indonesia as a maritime power. This aid also seems meant to thwart coast guard cooperation between Indonesia and Japan.
Xi promised to support Indonesia in developing maritime infrastructure, both by encouraging Chinese firms to invest and by sponsoring projects through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund.
However, Jokowi indicated that he would need more details about Maritime Silk Road before committing to the project. “Until now, I don’t know the details of the Silk Road agenda. “But if the cooperation can give benefit to my people and can give benefit to our national interest and also to China, OK,”Jokowi quoted as saying in SCMP.
It may be recalled that the idea of the Maritime Silk Road was first announced during a speech Xi gave before the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia in October 2013.
Jokowi’s trip to China comes
after a stopover in Japan, where he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled the idea of a new maritime forum to ensure “maritime safety and security.”
However, Jokowi has said China’s claim to the majority of the South China Sea has no legal basis under international law.