Djauhari Oratmangun, Indonesia's Ambassador to China and Mongolia Photo: Asia Times
Djauhari Oratmangun, Indonesia's Ambassador to China and Mongolia Photo: Asia Times

Indonesia will concentrate on boosting trade and investment with China, according to Djauhari Oratmangun, the country’s newly-appointed ambassador to China and Mongolia said in an interview. Oratmangun went on to emphasize that sending Indonesian migrant workers to the world’s second largest economy is not a priority. 

Deploying workers such as domestic helpers and nurses to China is “not on my agenda, nor in the bilateral agreement,” Oratmangun said in a group interview in Hong Kong after he presented Indonesia’s credentials to Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on June 20.

The topic was not even mentioned in any of his informal discussions with Chinese officials, he added.

He said he is aware that the Philippines plans to send English teachers and domestic workers to China, but says that Indonesia has no such plans at the moment. Instead, Indonesia wants to focus more on boosting exports to China and attracting more Chinese investments and tourists to Indonesia.

Read: China to open its doors to Filipino English teachers

Announced as Indonesia’s Ambassador to China and Mongolia in February, Oratmangun arrived in Beijing in late April and returned to Jakarta during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s official visit to Indonesia on May 7 to 9.

On June 20, he joined ambassadors from Peru, Angola, Moldova, Dominica, New Zealand, Cyprus, Trinidad and Tobago, Morroco, Sudan, San Marino, Barbados and Montenegro in the official presentation of diplomatic credentials to Xi in Beijing.

On June 28, he visited Hong Kong to attend the annual Belt and Road Summit organized by the city’s Trade Development Council.

Oratmangun said in the interview that it has now been five years since Indonesia and China agreed in 2013 to improve ties and embark on a comprehensive strategic partnership.

He said Indonesia is enjoying a good relationship with China, which is now the Southeast Asian country’s largest trading partner and its third-largest foreign investor after Singapore and Japan.

About 2.3 million tourists from China and Hong Kong visited Indonesia last year, he said. Meanwhile, a total of 14,700 Indonesian students are now studying in China and helping to maintain a good relationship between the two countries.

Read: Indonesia needs China to get back on track

During Li’s recent visit to Indonesia, the Chinese premier agreed to increase Indonesian palm oil imports by up to 500,000 tons per year.

In 2017,  Indonesia exported 3.73 million tons of crude palm oil to China, up 16% from 3.23 million tons in 2016. Li also agreed to open China’s market to Indonesia’s tropical fruits, including mangosteen, mango and durian.

Oratmangun said Indonesia will promote discussion about attracting potential investment of US$64 billion from China in North Sumatra,  North Kalimantan, North Sulawesi and Bali under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Read: China’s Belt and Road, and implications for ASEAN connectivity