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Top Legislator Starts Goodwill Visit to Indonesia
Top Chinese legislator Li Peng arrived in Jakarta yesterday, kicking off a four-day official goodwill visit to Indonesia, China's biggest neighboring country in Southeast Asia.

It is the second leg of Li's four-nation visit to Asia-Pacific countries, which will also take him to the Philippines and Australia.

Li traveled from Thailand to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.

In a written statement released on his arrival, Li said in recent years, China and Indonesia have witnessed breakthroughs in the development of ties and remarkable achievements in the beneficial cooperation across the board.

Li said he believes ties will be further deepened in the future.

Li is expected to meet Amien Rais, chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly of Indonesia and Vice-President Hamzah Haz during his trip.

He will also make a speech at a banquet held by local entrepreneurs on bilateral economic ties and China's relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Although China and Indonesia resumed full diplomatic relations in 1990, direct trade between the two countries has grown rapidly since trade links were restored in 1985.

However, last year's trade was affected by global economy and dropped to US$6.725 billion.

Beijing-based experts say they believe there is still great potential for the two nations to expand their cooperation.

"China and Indonesia share the same or similar views on many regional and international issues," said Han Feng, vice-president of the China Association for Southeast Asia Studies.

Han said within the frameworks of the United Nations, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, ASEAN and its relationships with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea and other regional forums, both countries support each other closely.

Indonesia plays an important role in promoting China's relations with Southeast Asian nations, Han said.

However, an expert of Southeast Asia studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who did not want to be identified, said issues such as ethnic Chinese living in Indonesia and the South China Sea are still sensitive in bilateral relations.

(China Daily September 9, 2002)

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