President Xi to visit Indonesia, Malaysia

President Xi to visit Indonesia, Malaysia

President Xi Jinping will pay visits to Indonesia and Malaysia and attend the 21st Economic Leaders' Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in the Indonesian province of Bali from Oct 2 to 8, the Foreign Ministry announced on Sunday.

In a bid to strengthen China's relationship with Southeast Asian nations, Xi will deliver a speech on China's policy on the region, and observers said his first visit there will help alleviate concerns and misunderstandings about China.

The Chinese leader's first visit to the region since he took office in March aims to enhance the "traditional friendship" with Beijing's neighbours and expand the scope of win-win cooperation, senior diplomats said.

Indonesia and Malaysia are "key members" of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Xi will exchange views on deepening relationships with ASEAN, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Zhenmin said.

Xi will meet with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He also will deliver a speech to the Indonesian Parliament, giving a comprehensive introduction of the Chinese government's policies for developing Sino-Indonesian and Sino-ASEAN ties, Liu said.

Wang Yizhou, deputy head of the International Studies College at Peking University, said Xi's planned visit and speech in Indonesia underscore the country's importance to Chinese diplomacy in Southeast Asia.

"Indonesia has the fourth-largest population in the world and has the largest economy of the 10 ASEAN members," Wang said.

While the Philippines and Vietnam have tried to impose territorial claims in the South China Sea into ASEAN's agenda, Xi's speech will "dispel concerns on China's rise", Wang said.

"But we should also realise that the South China Sea issue is only one part of diplomacy in the region. The presidential speech will cover a wide range of topics, including the economy plus cultural and strategic considerations," Wang said.

While in Malaysia, Xi will meet with Malaysian supreme head of state Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah and Prime Minister Najib Razak. Xi also will attend a China-Malaysian economic cooperation high-level forum.

Sino-Malaysian bilateral trade exceeded US$94.8 million (S$119 million) last year, and China has been Malaysia's largest trading partner over the past four years.

Before the presidential visit, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made two trips to Southeast Asia - to four nations in May and three in August - in a move that analysts said highlights the region's role as a cornerstone of the new Chinese leadership's diplomatic policies.

Foreign ministers from China and the 10 member states of ASEAN gathered in Beijing in late August to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership.

During the Leaders Summit in Bali, the Chinese president will talk about Beijing's view on the current economic situation as well as topics such as APEC's role in boosting multilateral trade mechanisms and the region's connectivity.

The summit will take place at a time when "destabilizing and uncertain factors in the global economy are likely to have further effects on the emerging economies in the Asia-Pacific region", Li said.

The turbulence will also "prompt people's concerns" on the economic prospects of the region, the senior diplomat warned.

Beijing hopes to achieve three goals during the summit - seeking an economy of openness, pushing cooperation and win-win thinking to boost confidence in the Asia-Pacific region, and establishing coordination on regional trade agreements, Li Baodong said.

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