Indonesia says China has pledged $21B in new investment to strengthen ties

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Visiting Chinese Premier Li Qiang on Friday pledged $21.7 billion in new Chinese investment in Indonesia to strengthen the countries' economic and political ties, an official said.

Li arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday to attend the three-day summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and meet with Indonesian leaders.

President Joko Widodo hosted Li at the colonial-style Merdeka palace in Jakarta on Friday and discussed ways to expand trade and investment. He sought China's help in plans to move Indonesia's capital from congested and polluted Jakarta on the main island of Java to Nusantara on Borneo island.

After the meeting, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi announced the new Chinese investment pledge, which follows a previous $44.89 billion investment commitment made when Widodo met Chinese President Xi Jinping in July. Details of the new investment weren't announced.

Marsudi said Widodo asked China, Indonesia's largest trade and investment partner, to “realize these commitments immediately” and urged it to explore investment in other sectors, such as maritime and fisheries.

The two leaders also oversaw the signing of six agreements on e-commerce, support for enterprises, industrial cooperation, agriculture, fisheries and science and technology, Marsudi said.

On Wednesday, Li took a test ride on Indonesia's new $7.3 billion high-speed rail line, which was funded largely with Chinese loans. It connects Jakarta and Bandung, the heavily populated capital of West Java province, and is part of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

Commercial service on Southeast Asia’s first high-speed railway is to begin on Oct. 1 and will cut travel time between the cities from the current three hours to about 40 minutes.

Indonesia wants a larger role in supplying nickel and other raw materials for China’s fast-growing electric car makers. Nickel smelting plants in Indonesia are part of China’s Belt and Road transnational development program.

Indonesia and China are both members of the Group of 20 major developed and emerging economies. The two leaders were to leave Jakarta on Friday afternoon for New Delhi to attend the G20 summit.


Associated Press writer Jim Gomez contributed to this report.