Jokowi Responds to China's Displeasure on Temporary Travel Ban

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Laila Afifa

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  • Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) visits at a military base in Natuna, near the South China Sea, Indonesia, January 8, 2020. The dispute has soured Indonesia's generally friendly relationship with China, its biggest trading partner and a major investor in Southeast Asia's largest country. Laily Rachev/Courtesy of Indonesian Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) visits at a military base in Natuna, near the South China Sea, Indonesia, January 8, 2020. The dispute has soured Indonesia's generally friendly relationship with China, its biggest trading partner and a major investor in Southeast Asia's largest country. Laily Rachev/Courtesy of Indonesian Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - President Jokowi said that Indonesian policies in suspending flights from and to China and temporarily curb imports following the coronavirus outbreak are necessary to protect national interests, amid the discontent expressed by Chinese envoy.

    “Whatever it may be, I reiterate that our national interest remains the top priority,” the president asserted. 

    Previously, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said any foreign policies applied by the government always undergo careful deliberation before implementing any foreign policies. That's why, he claimed, Indonesia is relatively late in following suit other countries in terms of a travel ban.

    “We are very careful (in issuing a policy) and do maintain good relations [with China]. When we decided to suspend flights [from and to China], we have waited and referred to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation,” said Budi Karya on Wednesday, February 5.

    On Tuesday, ambassador Xiao Qian said Indonesia’s decision can potentially cause a negative effect on the country’s bilateral trade in the future. 

    He also deemed it unfortunate especially after the Chinese government and Indonesia have maintained a good relationship. Xiao Qian was wary that it could be hampered by irrational decisions and overreaction. 

    Budi Karya hoped the ambassador’s remarks will not occur and further underlined that the policies related to the coronavirus outbreak have been discussed with a variety of institutions. “Hopefully, the business ties of the two countries will continue,” the minister said.

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