Despite robust relations with China, especially in the economic sector, Indonesia should pursue a wider scope of cooperation with the Asian super power as it elected heir-in-waiting Xi Jinping as its new president on Thursday.
China’s parliament completed the country’s second orderly political succession since the Communist Party took power in 1949.
University of Indonesia’s expert on Chinese relations, Natalia Su-bagyo, underlined the need for Indonesia to put more effort into developing its ties with China.
“We need a greater exchange of knowledge and ‘best practices’ with China,” she said.
Since the two countries face similar problems and challenges, Indonesia could discuss many things with China such as sharing experiences in alleviating poverty, corruption and infrastructure development.
“The idea is that we need to widen our cooperation far beyond the economic aspect,” Natalia said.
Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Commission I overseeing foreign affairs, Mahfudz Siddiq, hoped that China’s new leader could maintain the country’s path to modernization along with democratization.
Xi is expected to prioritize moderation in the region so China can maintain peace and stability and not create new tension in dealing with the region’s territorial dispute in the South China Sea and East China Sea.
Mahfudz also hoped Indonesia and China could develop a more balanced and beneficial relationship, especially in bilateral trade.
Indonesia and China’s diplomatic relations were restored in July 1990, and since then the two countries relations have grown fast, especially in politics, economics and culture.
Natalia noted that China’s new leadership would not make any surprise changes to policy, since they have underscored sustainability.
“Leaders in China have been prepared long before the announcement as they picked the best party member, not a newcomer,” she said.
As part of a younger generation, Xi is expected to be more relaxed and open-minded in facing the dynamics of a fast-changing Chinese society; the needs of transparency amid global openness.
Xi, 59, was also elected head of the Central Military Commission, the parallel government post to the party’s top military position, which he already holds, ensuring that he has full power over the party, state and armed forces.
Last November, Xi was appointed party and military chief — where real power lies. Xi replaced his predecessor, Hu Jintao (70), who relinquished his presidency after serving the maximum two five-year terms.
Xi faced virtually zero opposition among the carefully selected legislators to become president. Xi drew just one no vote and three abstentions from almost 3,000 delegates.
Xi bowed deeply and shook hands with Hu Jintao upon the announcement of the result, aired live on state television. Xi and Hu exchanged a few inaudible words.
Li Yuanchao was elected vice president.
Vice Premier Li Keqiang is set to succeed Premier Wen Jiabao in a similarly scripted vote on Friday.
Many Chinese hope Xi will bring change in a country that has risen to become the world’s second-biggest economy but is marred by deepening income inequality, corruption and environmental destruction left over from the administration of Hu and Wen.