IN A first for a visiting foreign leader, Chinese President Xi Jinping will address a special session of Indonesia's Parliament when he arrives in Jakarta on Wednesday next week for a two-day state visit to Indonesia.
He will then visit Malaysia from Oct 4 to Oct 6. Bernama reported a senior Chinese diplomat saying "good news" on bilateral ties can be expected there.
His Jakarta visit is expected to coincide with the inking of several business deals totalling some US$20 billion (S$25 billion), including an agreement between several Chinese companies and the Jakarta Monorail to build a factory to assemble and maintain trains for an initial 30km-long network.
They include China Communications Construction Company, China Northern Railways, as well as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. Indonesian officials also said a 100 billion yuan (S$20.5 billion) bilateral swap agreement with China may be renewed to boost the rupiah, which has weakened in recent weeks.
The visit comes at a time when political and economic links between China and Indonesia are rapidly growing, with two-way trade more than doubling from US$26.6 billion in 2009 to US$66.6 billion last year.
Both sides hope this will hit US$80 billion in 2015, Antara News Agency reported Indonesian ambassador to China Imron Cotan saying.
"Indonesia is significant for the Chinese," National Defence University analyst Kusnanto Anggoro told The Straits Times, citing Beijing's push to do more in the region to counter the United States' renewed attention on the Asia-Pacific.
But Indonesia also stands to benefit, he said, noting Chinese interest in developing energy, agriculture and industrial projects in eastern Indonesia.
Chinese companies, especially in the power, oil and engineering sectors, have a growing presence in South-east Asia's largest economy. Chinese investments in Indonesia totalled US$2.2 billion last year, when nearly one million Chinese tourists visited Indonesia.
Indonesian officials are hoping China and its companies will next begin investing in infrastructure projects - including rail, refineries and mineral smelters.
Military cooperation between Indonesia and China has also grown and both are in talks on jointly producing C-705 anti-ship missiles.
Indonesia, which is not a party to territorial disputes in the South China Sea involving China, has worked on deepening ties with both China and the US.
This position appears to have been welcomed by China. Indonesia and China "each play a strategic role in the region," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a group of visiting ASEAN journalists on Tuesday night.
China also plans to open a cultural centre in Indonesia, he added. Mr Xi will also attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' meeting in Bali and give a speech at the summit's closing on Oct 7.
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