Why China is pushing hard on its Indonesia rail project

Workers preparing steel for the China-financed Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project. The project is the first in Indonesia under Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative.
Workers preparing steel for the China-financed Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project. The project is the first in Indonesia under Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative.PHOTO: REUTERS

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang made a two-day official visit to Jakarta earlier this month. On the face of it, the main reason for the trip was to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the "Indonesia-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership".

Signed in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping and then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, this partnership appears to have made modest achievements, mainly in trade, investments and tourism. Even in the area of investment, there is a major hitch - the slow progress of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway (HSR). A key mission of Mr Li's visit was to give the rail project a push.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2018, with the headline 'Why China is pushing hard on its Indonesia rail project'. Print Edition | Subscribe