Thursday, January 17, 2008

Indonesia - China to Resume Defense Ties

By The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Indonesia and China have agreed to work together on military training and military vehicle production, a move in line with the two countries' 2007 agreement on defense cooperation.
After welcoming Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan on Wednesday, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono told reporters both countries would conduct joint military training and exercises for their defense forces.
"We will also create a strategic partnership in joint financing and defense industry, which will concentrate on producing military vehicles, aircraft and vessel carriers," said Juwono, who visited Beijing last November to sign the Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral defense cooperations.
He said the finance and national development ministers of both countries would discuss the amount of investment needed for the defense industry, in which local military carrier producers PT Dirgantara Indonesia and shipbuilder PT PAL would be involved.
Juwono has repeatedly said his ministry will focus more on procuring new military equipment from local manufacturers while seeking products not available domestically from foreign partners under mutual agreements.
He said both countries would also establish a committee to strengthen the defense ties between them.
The bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and China entered a new phase under the reign of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono after the resumption of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1990.
In 1967, Indonesia's diplomatic relations with China were suspended in the aftermath of a failed coup d'etat in 1965 to oust the then president Sukarno. The then-army major general Soeharto, who undertook to control the aftermath and later rose to power replacing Sukarno, blamed the upheaval on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), which had flourished well during Sukarno's reign.
Soeharto's government accused communism-based China of being engaged with PKI in the turmoil which was believed to have caused the death of more than a million civilians.
Twenty three years later, the two countries resumed their formal diplomatic ties after an exchange of visits by Chinese premier Li Peng to Jakarta in August 1990 and by Soeharto to Beijing in November the same year.
President Yudhoyono visited his Chinese counterpart, President Hu Jintao, in Beijing in 2005 to sign a strategic partnership, which included the agreement to strengthen the defense cooperation between both countries.
Indonesia was the first country in Southeast Asia to enter into such a strategic partnership with China.
Minister Cao said Wednesday the military in both countries had played a significant role in assisting the economic advancement and a cooperation agreement would allow them to share their experiences in that field.
"In the future, we hope to conduct high level visits more frequently to strengthen the defense relationship between both countries," he said during his first visit to Indonesia.
Minister Cao is scheduled to leave the country on Sunday after a five-day visit. (lln)

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