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Indonesia’s Widodo to meet Xi on rare China trip before G20

2022 Jul 25, 17:20,
FILE - Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, left, speaks to China's President Xi Jinping during a family photo session in front of Osaka Castle at the G-20 summit, on June 28, 2019, in Osaka, Japan.(Tomohiro Ohsumi/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Indonesian President Joko Widodo was heading to Beijing on Monday for a rare visit by a foreign leader under China’s strict COVID-19 protocols and ahead of what could be the first overseas trip by Chinese President Xi Jinping since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago.

Widodo, host of the Group of 20 summit in mid-November, will meet Xi and Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday. He will hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Wednesday and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in Seoul on Thursday, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said.

China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia are all members of the G-20, a group of 19 major nations and the European Union.

Xi, who has participated in international meetings only by video link during the pandemic, may end his COVID-19 isolation and attend the G-20 in person, analysts both inside and outside China said.

Veronika Saraswati, an international politics researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, an Indonesian think tank, said she believes Widodo’s trip to Beijing is in part to personally invite Xi to the G-20.

“The expectations for President Xi Jinping’s presence in the G-20 summit are very high,” she said. “In the midst of the world’s worse economic situation due to the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as well as ... tensions with China that continue to spike in the Indo-Pacific region, Xi’s presence is certainly highly anticipated and will give significance to the success of the meeting.”

Widodo is one of the few foreign leaders to visit China during the pandemic and the first since several attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who is traveling with Widodo, said a number of issues would be discussed including trade, investment, health, infrastructure and fisheries. She called China, Japan and South Korea partners in economic and regional issues.


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