Singapore: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin are both planning to attend a Group of 20 summit in the resort island of Bali later this year, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said.
“Xi Jinping will come. President Putin has also told me he will come,” Widodo, who is widely known as Jokowi, said in an interview with Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait on Thursday. It was the first time the leader of the world’s fourth-most populous nation confirmed both of them were planning to show up at the November summit.
Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin in Beijing earlier this year.Credit:AP
The presence of Xi and Putin at the meeting would set up a showdown with US President Joe Biden and other democratic leaders, all of whom are set to meet in person for the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The attack, which came shortly after Putin and Xi declared a “no limits” partnership, has left the G20 divided over whether to place sanctions on Russia.
China’s Foreign Ministry didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on travel plans for Xi, who hasn’t travelled abroad since the start of the pandemic. A Kremlin spokesman declined to comment but another official familiar with the situation confirmed Putin currently plans to attend the meeting in person.
Putin and Widodo discussed preparations for the G20 summit in Bali in a phone call Thursday, the Kremlin said in a statement that didn’t mention whether the Russian leader will attend. Putin’s attendance could also bring him face to face with Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time since Russia’s invasion because the Ukrainian president is also slated to be in Bali.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a meeting with military officials in July. Russia invaded Ukraine in February.Credit:AP
Biden had called for Russia to be removed from the G20 following its invasion of Ukraine, and US officials had earlier been pressuring Indonesia to exclude Putin from the Bali summit.
Tensions are also soaring between the US and China, even as Biden and Xi leave open the possibility of holding their first face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of the Bali summit. China cut off talks with the US on defence and a range of other areas after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, while the White House has criticised Beijing’s military drills around the island.
“The rivalry of the big countries is indeed worrying,” Widodo, 61, said in the interview. “What we want is for this region is to be stable, peaceful, so that we can build economic growth. And I think not only Indonesia: Asian countries also want the same thing.”
As the current G20 host, Indonesia has sought to balance ties between major powers while resisting pressure to exclude Russia from meetings. In the wake of Pelosi’s Taiwan visit earlier this month, Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry said the world “needs wisdom and responsibility to maintain peace and stability,” while emphasising that it respected a One China policy as expressed by other South-east Asian nations.
Widodo dismissed concerns that US-China tensions over Taiwan could spill over into the South China Sea, where Indonesia has territorial claims, saying nations should instead focus on dealing with crises over food, energy and the pandemic. South-east Asian countries wanted richer countries to help provide funds to transition to renewable energy and investments to grow their economies, he added.
In the five years to 2022, US investments in Indonesia were less than a quarter of the combined $US40 billion ($58 billion) that China and Hong Kong has put in. Companies from China were investing in building highways and high-speed railways and pouring in funds to construct more commodity processing plants.
While Russia accounts for only a small amount of investments, Indonesia’s state-owned energy company Pertamina has a joint venture with Rosneft to build a $US13.5 billion refinery.
Indonesia is seeking trade and investments that boost economic growth and improve the lives of the nation’s 275 million people, Widodo said, adding that it wasn’t seeking to join any particular bloc.
“Indonesia wants to be friends with everyone,” he said. “We don’t have problems with any country. Each country will have their own approach. Each leader has their own approach. But what’s needed by Indonesia is investment, technology that will change our society.”
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