JAKARTA, April 2 – Indonesian president-elect Prabowo Subianto’s visit to China has shown the world how important the latter is to the future Indonesian government, experts said. 

Prabowo, general chairman of Indonesia’s Gerindra Party, visited China on Monday.

Indonesia’s General Elections Commission announced on March 20 that 72-year-old Prabowo won the 2024 presidential election, with his inauguration ceremony scheduled for October.

Prabowo’s visit aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two countries, especially in defense, according to the news released by the Secretariat General of the Indonesian Ministry of Defense.

“This visit is part of the two countries’ continuous efforts to strengthen dialogues and strategic cooperation that are very important for regional security and stability,” said Edwin Adrian Sumantha, head of Public Relations Bureau at the Defense Ministry.

It fully demonstrates the robustness of China-Indonesia ties. The visit is a great opportunity to further enhance traditional friendship, deepen comprehensive strategic cooperation, and better synergize development strategies to provide a good example of major developing countries embracing a shared future, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jian at a press conference on Friday.

“Prabowo chose to visit China soon after he became president-elect, which is an unconventional practice. It showcases the special importance of China among other national relations with Indonesia”, said Novi Basuki, an Indonesian Sinologist.

No president-elect in Indonesian history has conducted such a state visit prior to inauguration and with China as the first stop, Basuki added.

Shen Fahan, a researcher at the Strategic Research Department of Gentala Institute Indonesia, believes that this unconventional behavior indicates that Prabowo wants to bring the relationship between the two countries closer and deliver a friendly message to the Chinese government, business sector and its people.

“As I see it, Prabowo’s visit to China has sent a positive signal to his supporters and the international community that the future Indonesian government attaches great importance to China,” said Humprey Arnaldo Russel, director of the China-ASEAN Center at the University of Indonesian.

Russel observed that Prabowo also delivered a message that he appreciates the support that China has provided so far and highlights China’s role as “a close friend.”

China has been Indonesia’s largest trade partner for 10 consecutive years, said Lin Zhenqiang, secretary general of the Indonesia-China Friendship Association, who hopes Prabowo could promote cooperation in trade, investment and infrastructure construction through his visit.


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