Veronika S. Saraswati, an expert on China studies at the Jakarta-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said Indonesia was prioritizing increasing its strategic and economic partnerships with China.
“Both Indonesia and China bilaterally, as well as ASEAN and China, have been establishing long-term strategic partnerships. We’ve seen that our trade with China has steadily increased over time,” Saraswati told DW.
Saraswati added that Indonesia and China have a long diplomatic and trade history and that Jokowi seeks to strengthen this while negotiating the current “chaotic” economic climate.
China is Indonesia’s largest trading partner, with a total value reaching $110 billion in 2021. China is the third-biggest investor in Indonesia after Singapore and Hong Kong, with investment value totaling up to $3.2 billion in 2021.
Indonesia tries to increase exports
Bhima Yudhistira, an economist and executive director at the Center of Economics and Law Studies (CELIOS), a Jakarta-based think tank, told DW that the Indonesian President wants to balance trade between the West and China.
“For military equipment, we import a lot from the US and EU. Yet for other goods and commodities, we source many of them from China,” said Yudhistira.
However, the economist said that Indonesia is struggling to find new export markets for its products, especially as more products come in from China and other global markets contract.
He said the Jokowi’s tour amounted to “asking or begging partner countries to absorb excess supply in Indonesia,” such as crude palm oil, which was affected by a one-month export suspension earlier this year.