China, Indonesia boost economic ties as Xi arrives

China, Indonesia boost economic ties as Xi arrives

Jakarta - Beijing and Jakarta signed a series of economic agreements Wednesday as Chinese President Xi Jinping began a trade-focused trip to Indonesia, his first visit to Southeast Asia since taking power.

Like its Asian peers Japan and South Korea, China is seeking to strengthen its presence in the booming Indonesian economy, which has been a leading destination for foreign investment in recent years.

During his two-day trip, Xi, who took power in March, will Thursday become the first foreign leader to address the Indonesian parliament.

After a red-carpet welcome in the capital Jakarta involving a military parade and brass band, the Chinese leader held talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

"Both countries are very big, both are developing countries, and we have great influence in the region and in the world," Xi told reporters after the meeting.

Chinese and Indonesian ministers signed memoranda of understanding at the presidential palace to enhance cooperation in several industries, including tourism, technology and space research.

The Indonesian and Chinese central banks also agreed to a 100 billion yuan ($16.3 billion) currency swap deal to shore up the ailing rupiah if necessary.

The currency has fallen amid recent economic turmoil in Indonesia.

Trade and investment deals worth $32 billion were also expected to be signed at a later point during the trip, in sectors including mining, infrastructure and transport, said Industry Minister M. S. Hidayat.

Yudhoyono stressed the importance of Xi's visit, saying that "once again we are making history" by taking trade and investment to the next level.

Trade between China and Indonesia has soared from $16.5 billion in 2005 to more than $66.2 billion in 2012 and Xi said he hoped the visit would strengthen ties.(See attached file: xi.jpg) "Indonesia has made remarkable achievement in its development, enjoyed rising international status and is playing an increasingly important role on the global stage," he said.

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