Xi proposes bank to invest in Asean infrastructure

Xi proposes bank to invest in Asean infrastructure

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to take his country's ties with Indonesia to new heights at the start of his maiden visit to South-east Asia since taking office, inking a series of deals meant to cement ties with the region's biggest economy.

"We want to promote cooperation between both countries to fly as high as possible to space and go as deep as possible in the sea," Mr Xi said.

The leaders of both countries witnessed the signing of six agreements to step up cooperation in sectors including maritime and fisheries, tourism and space exploration, and said they had upgraded ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Mr Xi also proposed a bank that would invest in infrastructure in ASEAN and pledged funding from China, at a joint press briefing alongside Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono after their two-hour meeting.

Mr Xi did not elaborate, but the idea had been previously mooted. China's large pool of funds can help meet the huge demand for road, rail, port and power facilities in countries like Indonesia.

His visit to Indonesia, South-east Asia's largest economy, comes at a time when political and economic links between both countries are rapidly growing, with two-way trade more than doubling from US$26.6 billion in 2009 to US$66.6 billion (S$83.6 billion) last year.

Chinese companies have a growing presence here, with investments from China totalling US$2.2 billion last year.

In a statement on his arrival, Mr Xi noted that friendly exchanges between both peoples started over a millennium ago.

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