A great deal is riding on Li Qiang’s visit to Jakarta this week, the new Chinese premier’s first official stop in Southeast Asia.
For all the disappointment that Chinese leader Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden won’t be at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, Li is the one from which ASEAN leaders most want to hear.
In March, Xi entrusted Li to revive flagging mainland growth and restart big-picture reform efforts.
How Li characterizes Beijing’s plans for the world’s second-biggest economy means more for developing Asia than the West, given the ASEAN region’s extreme vulnerability to weakening Chinese growth. That’s especially true as China resists firing its stimulus “bazooka” during this latest downturn.