In his first official overseas excursion since taking office on October 20, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is embarking on a nine-day bilateral and multilateral diplomatic trip aimed at courting investors for the country and showcasing his maritime vision.
Beijing was his first stop as he arrived on Saturday evening to attend the annual Apec summit, a prestigious powwow of 21 leaders of Asia-Pacific economies, on November 10 and 11, and also to shore up support from Chinese government and business leaders.
As China is Indonesia’s biggest trading partner, Jokowi looks to be devoting much of his attention during the trip to seeking support from the world’s second-biggest economy.
Not only is Jokowi the first leader to arrive in Beijing for the summit, he is also scheduled for a bilateral meeting with China President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Ke-qiang on Sunday, according to the President’s itinerary.
Jokowi will also meet a number of prominent Chinese businesspeople, travel to Tianjin to witness firsthand the city’s highly efficient integrated port service center and container port management and visit Beijing power plant.
The President is among only four world leaders who will have the opportunity to deliver a keynote speech during the prestigious Apec CEO summit before the international business community.
“We’re keeping our attention closely on China as we need them to participate in the construction of our key infrastructure,” Coordinating Economic Minister Sofyan Djalil told The Jakarta Post.
Sofyan also said that Indonesia would support and participate in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
President Xi initiated the bank in October, with China likely to hold a 50 percent stake.
While in Beijing, Jokowi is also scheduled to have bilateral meetings with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
After cozying with the big boys, Jokowi will fly to Naypyitaw, Myanmar, to attend the 25th ASEAN Summit on November 12 and 13.
On the sidelines of that summit, Jokowi is scheduled to introduce to the world his maritime policy.
“The trip will showcase Jokowi’s maritime-axis vision to the world,” said Rizal Sukma of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), who is among Jokowi’s entourage on the trip.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who accompanied Jokowi to the airport before the President’s departure, said Jokowi would use the international forums to discuss issues related to “the country’s national and regional interests” with other world leaders.
“[Our interests include] how our economy, investment and infrastructure development grow. These are business-to-business [affairs],” he told reporters.
Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto, who also joined the presidential entourage, said Jokowi would use the Apec meeting to highlight discussions on infrastructure development and his “maritime axis” strategy.
“Specifically, President Jokowi will try to incorporate our [nation’s] idea of the world maritime axis with China’s 21st century [maritime] Silk Road concept,” Andi said.
Jokowi has repeatedly campaigned on restoring Indonesia as a maritime power, a game-changing policy that could define his administration and will hinge on developing the marine sector and sea transportation.
On the international stage, the settlement of sea-boundary disputes with neighboring countries, the push for maritime connectivity and the expansion of sea lanes are among the deliverables under the maritime-axis concept.
After concluding the Asian tour, Jokowi will head to Brisbane, Australia, on November 14 to attend the G20 annual summit, a grouping of the world’s biggest economies. The event is scheduled for November 15-16.