Tue, 09 May 2000

Indonesia, China sign MOU to improve relations

BEIJING (JP): Indonesia and China signed here on Monday a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the fields of politics, economics, science and technology, and tourism.

The document was signed by Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab and his Chinese counterpart Tang Jiaxuan at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The two ministers also agreed to establish a joint commission to set up a mechanism to address problems which may emerge in the future.

The signing of the documents, which marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Indonesia, was a follow-up of President Abdurrahman Wahid's visit to China last year.

It was President Abdurrahman himself who suggested establishment of the joint commission, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Yang Wenchang said.

China was the first country to be given the recognition of receiving Abdurrahman on an official state visit despite the fact that he had traveled to Japan and the United States just weeks earlier.

Yang told a delegation of Indonesian journalists prior to the ceremony that the bilateral cooperation between China and Indonesia has been moving in the right direction since the restoration of political ties between the two countries in 1990.

"So far, there is no significant problem hampering our cooperation," he said.

Indonesian froze diplomatic relations with China shortly after the failed 1965 coup by the Indonesian Communist Party.

The government at the time accused China of supporting the movement, an allegation which has always been denied by Beijing.

"We don't interfere in any country's internal affairs. That's your internal policy," Yang said, adding that the matter was cleared by the white paper issued by the Indonesian government in 1994.

He said that the riots that hit Jakarta and several other cities in 1998, resulting in the flight of many ethnic Chinese from Indonesia, have not affected the good relations between the two countries.

He said that the Chinese government did not treat Chinese overseas as Chinese citizens, and called upon them to follow the regulations their respective countries of residence.

"But we also hope that they are treated as other (indigenous) ethnic groups so that they can exercise their rights and their interest like other citizens," he remarked.(sim)