Jokowi Hopes China's Belt and Road Initiative Won't Lead to Losses
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Indonesian President Joko Widodo or Jokowi expected China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to be based on the principle of equal partnership and shared benefits. He highlighted the importance of synergy in the BRI, which gives host countries room for ownership in the implementation of their projects.
“The long-term sustainability of BRI projects must be ensured and strengthen the economic foundation of partner countries instead of complicating their fiscal conditions,” Jokowi said at the opening of the Belt and Road Forum Summit in Beijing on Wednesday, October 18, 2023.
The BRI is a global infrastructure and energy development plan launched by China a decade ago to connect Asia with Africa and Europe by land and sea. Critics, however, see the initiative as a tool for China to expand its geopolitical and economic influence. The BRI has been called a reinvention of the ancient Silk Road Economic Belt, which was aimed at boosting global trade.
China's Foreign Ministry recorded that more than 150 countries, including Indonesia, and more than 30 international organizations have signed the Belt and Road cooperation documents.
Indonesia’s first high-speed train, known as Whoosh, is part of the BRI. The recently launched national strategic project under the China-Indonesia joint venture cost more than US$7 billion.
It was initially expected to cost less than US$5 billion and be completed by 2019. However, delays arising from construction challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in ballooning costs.
Some economists assessed that the high-speed train project is a financial burden on taxpayers when it should be able to be commercially independent.
Today, Oct. 18, is the last day of Jokowi's visit to China. Before attending the Belt and Road Forum Summit, he had met with business people, Premier Li Qiang, and President Xi Jinping on separate occasions.
DANIEL A. FAJRI
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