Apriza Pinandita, Jakarta – The upcoming 70th anniversary of bilateral relations between Indonesia and China in 2020 will be an important opportunity for both sides to further strengthen their strategic partnership, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said on Tuesday.
Retno met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for bilateral talks on the margins of the 14th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Madrid, Spain, on Tuesday – their third in the past year.
Wang was planning to visit Indonesia early next year in preparation for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's state visit to China in 2020, Retno said in a statement, warmly welcoming the plan.
According to a statement from the ministry, both sides underlined the importance of regional economic integration that results in win-win cooperation for its participants, an apparent nod to ongoing talks regarding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement backed by the two countries.
China is Indonesia's largest trading partner, with two-way trade valued at US$72.6 billion in 2018. The rising East Asian giant is also the third-largest foreign investor in the country, with total investments having reached a value of $2.3 billion last year.
During their meeting, Retno expressed the nation's appreciation for the Chinese government's help in facilitating the repatriation of 20 Indonesian citizens who fell victim to a mail-order bride scheme.
Both sides have worked together to bring home 36 victims since January, and the ministers agreed to further increase coordination going forward. "Cooperation to address human trafficking will be enhanced," Retno said in the statement.
This year alone, the Indonesian Embassy in Beijing received a total of 42 complaints from Indonesian women who had married Chinese men under the mail-order arrangement, three of whom were found to be underage. The number of complaints had doubled since 2017.
At the end of the meeting, Retno also received updates on the human rights situation in China's autonomous region of Xinjiang, where it has received flak from the international community for subjecting the Muslim Uighur minority to so-called "reeducation" camps.
Wang had given reassurances that Communist China would uphold religious freedom and that it was guaranteed by the state. (tjs)