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Dino Patti Jalal: U.S. should allow people to appreciate China's successes

已更新:5月16日


Indonesia's President-elect Prabowo chose Beijing for his first official visit after his February election victory. It is particularly notable that this is also the fourth visit to China by an Indonesian president and president-elect in the past 20 months.


Dino Patti Jalal, Indonesia's former ambassador to the U.S. and winner of the Inaugural Orchid Awards

In an exclusive interview with reporters on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2024, Dino Patti Jalal, former Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Indonesia and winner of the Friendship Envoy Award of Inaugural Orchid Awards, said Prabowo will undoubtedly continue Indonesia's independent and proactive foreign policy, and that partner with China is crucial is the consensus of the Indonesian political community. The United States fears of losing its global dominance, but has to realize that China cannot be contained by the US. The West is less dominant today than it was 30 or 40 years ago due to developing countries such as Indonesia have more options.


"More Indonesian students study in China than in the US."


Dino Patti Jalal is a veteran Indonesian diplomat who served as Indonesia's Ambassador to the United States and Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs under former President Susilo, and was Susilo's spokesperson for a long time. Later, he founded Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI), which Dino described it as "the largest grassroots foreign policy organisation in the Indo-Pacific region" and "Foreign Policy City" because of its size.


Dino said Prabowo would undoubtedly continue Indonesia's independent and proactive foreign policy, as he has emphasised many times, which means that Indonesia will not join any military alliance and will not accept any foreign military bases on Indonesian territory.


"Secondly, I think he will be consistent and continue the comprehensive strategic partnership with China." Dino added that Indonesia's political class considered co-operation with China to be crucial to Indonesia's development. He said it was a foregone conclusion due to the fact that China is Indonesia's largest trading partner, second-largest source of investment, and second-largest source of tourists. More Indonesian students study in China than in the United States. There is also a lot of technological co-operation, with Chinese products such as OPPO, Huawei, Vivo and Honor, which are as popular in Indonesia as Samsung or the iPhone. There is a high level of strategic trust between the leaders of the two countries, in stark contrast to the past.


Based on this trust, the new Indonesian president will maintain a comprehensive strategic partnership with China, which is an important pillar of peace and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, said Dino.


Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country and one of the promising emerging economies with potential being raised to join BRICS. Indonesia will remain very active in ASEAN to ensure that ASEAN becomes stronger and more united and maintains its centrality in regional affairs, Dino said. As for what Indonesia will do in the Global South, the Group of Twenty (G20), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), as well as free trade and climate change, Dino believes it is too early to tell and need to wait for the new president to officially announce his policies.


China has a very special quality of diplomacy


This year is Dino's first time to attend the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference. In his opinion, the Forum's focus on Asia is what he appreciates most. All along, Americans and Europeans have tried to define Asia, such as the "Indo-Pacific Strategy" of the United States. But at the Boao Forum for Asia, Asians are having their own dialogue about Asia and defining what Asia means to them and what they want to pursue as their vision for Asia. "


Dino: China is trying to show we equal, which is one of China's special diplomatic qualities.

ASEAN is defining the future of Asia with the launch of ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP). China also mentions this a lot. But still not enough attention to it among Asian countries. We are excited about the Asian Century, but many Asian countries still don't feel it belongs to them." Dino said that getting more Asians to discuss what Asia means to them and Asia's future is an important value of the Boao Forum for Asia.


Dino attended the entire opening ceremony of conference on 28 March. He said what he heard was the sound of win-win cooperation, which contrasts sharply with too much "you lose, I win" competition in today's world. It was encouraging to see the emphasis in the speeches of many leaders on win-win, cooperation, shared responsibility and avoidance of political confrontation.


"Indonesia also emphasises cooperation and hopes that there can be less confrontation in the region. Equal co-operation is good for everyone, and China's suggestion that it wants an equal and multipolar world is a very positive concept to promote." Dino said. Nauru's President Adiong and Dominica's Prime Minister Skerrit, both leaders from small island nations, spoke at the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference.


According to Dino, who has extensive diplomatic experience, China is known for being friendly and attractive in the world affairs, regardless of the size of the country. In Africa, the Pacific, and Latin America, China endeavours to engage with all countries. "One of China's special diplomatic qualities is that if the leader of any country, no matter how small comes to Beijing, that leader will have the time to meet with the president or of premier of China. This kind of diplomatic behaviour doesn't happen everywhere."


As claimed by Dino, China wants to show that we are equal and no matter how small or how big the country is, China is going to pay attention to them.


US must 'reach an agreement with the world': Accept China


Born in Belgrade and whose father is a prominent Indonesian diplomat, Dino attended high school in the U.S. and completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in Canada and the U.K. He had served as Indonesia's ambassador to the U.S. from 2010 to 2013.


Dino: A key feature of the new world is the rise of China and also the rise of the global south, the rise of Asia.

Talking about US-China relations, Dino admits that currently in the United States, China is perceived as a threat to the strategic dominance role of the United States. The U.S. has been an unrivalled superpower since World War II, but now they see China as a country that can "take away" their primacy. China has the ability to become the worldwide number-one economy, and it also has the military capabilities to challenge U.S. dominance. China's navy, for example, is growing rapidly, and it is overtaking the U.S. in many key technologies and taking a leadership role.


The U.S. government is suppressing TikTok on security grounds. Dino said Indonesia has the second-largest TikTok user base in the world outside the U.S. Dino and his daughters love TikTok, and the kids are especially fascinated. "There is a mindset in the U.S.- to be sceptical of anything to do with China. For example, China is one of the largest producers of electric cars, but it is very difficult for Chinese electric cars to enter the U.S. market. Many Chinese products will have similar difficulties because the U.S. views China through coloured glasses."


"In the U.S., if I am friendly to China, I will be called a 'panda-hugger' and people who said anything friendly or positive about China will be frowned upon. In my opinion, that is unhealthy." Dino, who is from Indonesia and has worked in the U.S., said he admires much of what the U.S. has achieved, such as lifestyle, products, innovations, and academia, "but there should be freedom to appreciate China's success as well. China's success in mobile phones, information technology, innovation, and many other things does not take anything away from me. I can learn from China as both China and Indonesia are developing countries and it is inspiring to see a developing country can become successful. The United States is different."


In a recent interview, the United States Ambassador to China, Ambassador Burns, publicly stated that "the United States does not want to live in a world dominated by the Chinese". Dino said he does not know exactly what Ambassador Burns means, but it seems that the world order is changing, which is inevitable. The old world order was created after 1945 and suited the world of that time, but a different world order is needed as everything is different now.


"One of the key features of the new world is the rise of China, the rise of the global south, the rise of middle powers and the rise of Asia ...... It is a completely different world." For Indonesia, Dino said, Indonesia has accepted that China will play an important role in Indonesia’s as well as ASEAN’s development. But for the U.S., they have to "reach an agreement with the world" that China will be able to help shape the world orde and accept that China does have a place at the table. China does not want to be controlled by the West or the United States, and as Australia's Foreign Minister Wong Ying-hyun has said, "China wants to be China and Australia wants to be Australia".


Dino said China wants to follow its own path of development and does not want to take orders from other countries. In his views, the United States must realise that they cannot suppress China, which will grow comprehensively in political, strategical, economical, social, cultural and technological aspects. Neither the world order nor the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy can function effectively without China's involvement.


"Hopefully at some point they will realise, 'Look, this competition is too much. It's not good for the United States as well as the world. Maybe the best option for us is to identify more areas of cooperation with China.' When will that moment come? I don't know." Dino admits that Americans say they need to cooperate, but there is very little meaningful cooperation in reality.


Western diplomacy is not about mutual respect, but Asians value it.


In September 2023, Dino was awarded the "Friendship Envoy Award" of the first Orchid Award initiated by China International Communications Group. The Orchid Award aims to implement the Global Civilisation Initiative, and reward international friends who promote the common values of all mankind, and make outstanding contributions to the promotion of Chinese and international cultural exchanges and mutual understanding of civilisations.


There are many other international friends like Dino who are committed to cultural exchange between China and other countries, but the road to promote mutual understanding between China and other countries is still very long. Especially with the changes in the geopolitical situation in recent years, how to make the world better understand China has become an important and urgent issue.


Dino admits that China has one of the most active public diplomacy programmes compared to many other countries, in which a lot of resources and manpower have been invested to implement large-scale projects and promote intercultural exchanges. In Indonesia, for example, many political, business, academic and religious figures have been invited to China.


"I think this is a very good strategy to strengthen bilateral relations. If the bilateral relationship is only at the governmental level, it is fragile. But it will become stronger if it is supported by the multiple levels mentioned above." Dino said the relationship between Indonesia and China is much stronger today than it was 30 or 40 years ago, and the mutual trust between the two countries is increasing, which is a good paradigm.


Dino recalled when he was a young diplomat 30 years ago, he noticed that European diplomats were very arrogant in their exchanges and had a certain sense of superiority. This was a common feeling among Indonesians at that time-it was difficult to have equal discussions with Westerners. Mutual respect is always emphasised in China, Indonesia and ASEAN. Dino always told his Western friends that Western diplomatic documents do not involve mutual respect, but Asians value it. Mutual respect is not just a word, it is actually a code of conduct that is important to Indonesia and Asian countries.


"I'm glad that there is a strong tradition of mutual respect between Indonesia and China. China will come to us when problems happen." Dino said, China sent a large number of personnel, ships and rescue forces to help with the relief effort when Indonesia was hit by a severe tsunami in 2004. Similarly, when China ran into problems, Indonesia offered supports whenever possible. During the epidemic, China was the first country to provide Indonesia with vaccines. The key to this is the long-term mutual respect between the two sides.


Dino said, nowadays Europe has a better idea of their roles, and European diplomats realise that the arrogance in the past was inappropriate. "I think they're doing much better now, they're not presenting themselves as benefactors and want to control everything. They did that in the past and other countries can not have a choice. But now Indonesia has more options."


Dino said, today Indonesia has become stronger and richer. If pressured, Indonesia can opt out. China is definitely an option, and the Europeans understand that the situation is not the same anymore, and that they must do more to earn our respect and treat us as equals.


"That's why the mutual understanding is very important for us. Europeans must realise it and respect and understand other countries in turn." Dino said.


 

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