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SHF2016丨Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono: Regional Expanding and Deepening the Cooperation in Asia: Opportunities and Challenges

Author:  |  Publication Date:2016-06-02

I am very grateful to the organizers of Shanghai Forum for inviting me to attend this grand event. Over the years of continuous development, Shanghai Forum grows bigger and bigger and enables us to have the opportunity to share insights together every year in the city. I am very honored to have such an opportunity to exchange ideas with everybody here. This is my first visit to Shanghai since I ended my ten-year presidential term. I am very pleased to be here to see my Chinese friends. Thank you very much for your kindness and friendliness to Indonesia.

First of all I want to say that the bilateral relation between Indonesia and China is solid and durable. And the friendly cooperative partnership between us is deepening. Historically, bilateral relations have had experienced ups and downs, but since 2005, the first year I started my first presidential term, the bilateral ties have entered a new era- we established a strategic cooperative partnership. After that, we continued strengthening and expanding our partnership. I believe that our new president JOKO WIDODO is also committed to keeping strengthening the friendly relations between our two countries.

The theme of this forum is about economic globalization and Asian choice, and the subtitle is interconnection and innovation. These themes come at the right time for us. Asia economy is on the track of continuous development, and the economic globalization is deepening. In this context we hold such a forum to observe the latest trends in Asia. We look forward to a better, sustainable development in the region, and the establishment of a Common Destiny of Communities that would ensure that Asia - an engine of global economic growth - will play a positive role to in global economy in the long term.

Before we discuss the problems and challenges Asia faces, I would like to tell you about my vision of global developments. I think 2016 is a year full of challenges for all the countries, we will find large turmoil of global geopolitics and economies this year, and the fallouts will ripple through far beyond. Only when our cooperation is based on strategic mutual trust, can we continue on the road of development. Security issues need to be further addressed throughout the region. New challenges will emerge one after one. However, we can still create new opportunities while facing such challenges. I believe that many Asian countries, including the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, and even Australia, will continue making their own contributions to the course.

Compared to last year, our economy has been recovering. But this year, we can also see the IMF's dim outlook of the world economy, where the IMF deems the time of overall economic slowdown is too long that would result in new challenges. It said the global economy could only make a 3.2% growth, and the new normal becomes constantly grilled across the board. In this context, the new challenges mean that our unemployment rate would keep high, economic growth would be still depressed, and in many regions the growth could be less than 1%. In the economic development, we often encounter factors impacting sustainable development.

Of course, many of the ASEAN countries will maintain high growth that could reach 4.7%. And economies in some countries, including Burma and Vietnam, may grow faster than the pace of six other ASEAN countries. But, in the process of the economic development, we can also see how difficult it is to make a decision during which we may additionally encounter lots of uncertain factors emerging in front of us. For example, we need to consider whether China’s economy could maintain high growth, while I of course believe that China's economy will still continue developing. We are also very concerned about other issues, for example, which candidates will eventually win this year's US presidential election, can we make progress in fighting against ISIS, and what trends would terrorism develop. So for us, there will be a lot of things that are out of our expectation. Any developments could change rapidly. These uncertain factors could cause a very big challenge throughout the entire region. In this context, for the Asian countries, we must understand their current situation, and we hope our young people and our universities to make more thoughts on these issues.

We hope that more and more people can be from a strategic level to discuss Asia's political and economic development in the future. And at the same time, we also hope that people from generation to generation can know our times better and grasp developments happened in our era. In fact, for us, there are a lot of forces that can develop and shake up Asia. First, we believe, we should take economic development as one of our core missions, and the whole society should also take it as a cohesive force for further development. In addition, we should not only need to make contributions and improvements politically and economically, but also make breakthroughs in terms of our thoughts.

We can see that development of cities and economies are closely linked to growth of income. According to the Asian Development Bank, it is expected by 2025 there will be additionally 30 billion people who will immigrate to cities; this is a new trend in urbanization. We can see that now in Latin America, and some other developing countries, there will be a great number of poverty population immigrating into cities. That is to say, we need to work helping the three billion poor people out of poverty after they come into cities. I believe that in Asia, there will be more and more entrepreneurs to emerge in the future. In this hall, we can also see a steady increase in the number of entrepreneurs who I believe will continue to promote development of the society as a whole. I believe entrepreneurship is a very important driving force to push for development of the whole society, help us resolve risks, so that we can do more things and input more resources to help innovations. We need to continue encouraging faster development of the whole society during our putting focus on innovation, and it is especially so for China.

President Xi had said that in the economic new normal, one of the very important pillars is innovation. And he talked about that if we can effectively use innovative thinking, we will be able to play out our advantage of human resources to a greater extent. For Indonesia, during the whole 10 golden years, we also placed innovation as our most important priority. Innovation can lay a solid foundation for the future, and can make more harmonious and speedy development. As long as the entrepreneurship can continue promoting innovations, it can make natural resources be more wisely used. During the economic development, social inclusion should be encouraged and environmental protection should be carried out in sync with economic development. They are also foundation for green and sustainable development.

We strongly agree with the idea of development with environmental protection and inclusiveness. In the production process, we should encourage lower costs, and faster and more environmentally friendly approaches. At the same time, China has so many ambitious entrepreneurs who can not only help improve living standards of the communities, but also enhance equality of the whole society. I believe that entrepreneurship has become the most important force in driving development in Asia. Another important development driving force is connectivity. In the 20th century, what countries cared most is their sovereignty; but in the 21st century, we care more about interconnection, interworking and interoperability. We always need to think about how far we made in our interconnection and interworking with the outside world. We need interconnection with global markets, with others’ ideas, and with others’ infrastructure. So I have to emphasize the power of interconnection is very crucial.

In my country, poverty people not only lacks of economic means, but also feel very isolated and helpless, rendering them having to accept their miserable fate. But interconnection can help them change their fate. For a poor man, they are now given more power to change. They can contact others quite smoothly, because they can use social networking tools and email. Through the digitalization, the poor will have more ability to reach the rest of the world. Many young people in the Middle East are in poverty and out of job, so during the "Arab Spring" unrest, they became the first batch of a lost generation. In the development of the whole regional economy, it needs a common participation of Asian countries, so that we can become stronger and improve the Asian economies as a whole.

I had been thinking the spirit of nationalism when I served as president of Indonesia. If a country is eager for sound development, it is necessary to break shackles of nationalism, and should be more inclusive and extensional to much wider regions. We cannot even clinch to regionalism; we should not put our focus just on Asia, because we cannot isolate ourselves in Asia. We should promote strategic cooperation with other regions, including with the European Union.

The developments in Southeast Asia shows a little better, the ASEAN member countries have been expanded from five to ten throughout the Southeast Asia. The participating member countries of ASEAN have become a community of destiny, whether it is judged from the aspects of the nation's destiny, the national awareness, and identity and other aspects, it has already had quite a high degree of consensus. ASEAN countries must establish more security measures, and contribute more for integration and interconnection with the rest of the world. In China’s "Belt and Road" initiative, Southeast Asia will benefit, which also requires the ASEAN countries to enhance their construction, and strengthen stability of the regional economy. Healthy growth throughout the region will be conducive to the healthy development of the world economy, and plays out a farreaching significance as a world economy booster.

In this forum, I would like to appeal for further strengthening the integration of regions.

First, in the Asian region, we must strengthen cooperation and create a community of common destiny throughout Asia. At the same time, we also hope that the whole Asia, including the ASEAN, can move further towards stability and security. In the new era of the 21st century, we need to make full preparations to cope with challenges in terms of thoughts, actions, and the economic and political means. We sure will encounter new problems and challenges ahead, and we are confident we can solve these problems - as long as we can change our mindset, and use of the thinking of cooperation, we can achieve a joint solution to address the problems and challenges.

Second, we must further strengthen the cooperation basis and cooperation infrastructure, in particular to establish a consensus of Common Destiny of Communities among all stakeholders. We must continue to focus on the same old issues, that is, how to establish a mutual trust, mutual understanding, communication and interconnection mechanism, so to bring different development tracks of different countries onto the same foundations of strategic trust and cooperation. Such cooperation and growth must be based on dialogue and exchange mechanisms that have been carried out fruitfully. And stable mutual respect should also become an important basis for us to solve future problems. There are many countries which are more advanced in mobilizing assets and in mental preparation than other countries, and we need to continue to strengthen balanced and coordinated development in this regard.

Third, we must build higher self-confidence, believing our strength can continue to solve potential challenges. I have shared with you my vision of the future of Asia, that is, the future of Asia would certainly be better than now. I am optimistic that the future of Asia will continue to success and prosperity, and continue to move towards peace. However, this future would not easily come by just with our fingertips, we must continue to strengthen cooperation and regional integration; we must continuously contribute our efforts and hard works. If you do not strengthen regional integration, it is likely we would lose the going-forward momentum for which we have got lots of failure cases and examples, and this prognosis might come true in the short term, and we are likely to make the achievements we have achieved go down the drain. We need keep our long-lasting fights and maintain our high-spirited will, and we should rely on our continued integration work to push Asia to make real and sustainable development in the global competition.

So I here finally would like to re-emphasize that we must strengthen cooperation, join hands to consolidate regional integration in Asia and build a solid foundation for the future.

Thank you all!

(This article is edited based on the recording and has not been reviewed by the speaker.)