China is of tremendous importance to Indonesia and Indonesia always intends to strengthen relations with China, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in Jakarta Tuesday.
"I will expand and deepen the bilateral relations during my visit from July 27 to 30," Susilo said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua, adding stable ties between the two countries will be good for the region and beyond.
China has been one of the engines of regional growth recently. That is why economic relations are going to be a key agenda for his visit, Susilo said.
"We want to be part of China's economic success and we also want China to be part of Indonesia's economic success," said Susilo, who won the country's first ever direct general election in October 2004 to become the sixth president from a retired general.
Both sides have much to do together in the fields of trade, energy and investment, he said, adding he expects to sign a number of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and agreements in Beijing.
With regard to the relations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Susilo said that "deepening the ASEAN-China relations and expanding our cooperation will not only bring benefits to our peoples but will also contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region."
All ASEAN members look forward to the establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, which will create an economic region of 1.7 billion consumers, a regional GDP of about US$2 trillion and total annual trade volume estimated to reach US$1.23 trillion, said the president of the most populous ASEAN member country.
According to the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, bilateral trade is expected to reach US$15-20 billion in three years, just as both countries' leaders promised in April when President Hu Jintao visited the archipelago.
Indonesia signed its first bilateral trade agreement with China in 1953, after officially establishing diplomatic ties with China on April 13, 1950. Direct trade between the two countries later ceased due to political reasons, but was restored through a 1985 agreement, which preceded a full normalization of all diplomatic ties in 1990. Since then, bilateral trade has flourished.
This year, the leaders of both countries signed a joint declaration in Jakarta to establish strategic partnership relations, which further paved the way for the development of bilateral trade.
(Xinhua News Agency July 27, 2005)