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Xi Jinping Welcomes a Rare Visitor in Indonesia’s President

Joko Widodo is expected to extend a personal invitation to the G-20 summit—and avoid any disruption to its nonaligned balance.

By , the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo speaks to Chinese President Xi Jinping
Indonesian President Joko Widodo speaks to Chinese President Xi Jinping
Indonesian President Joko Widodo speaks to Chinese President Xi Jinping during a photo session at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 28, 2019. Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s visit to China, the European Union’s emergency energy meeting, and the IMF’s latest global economic estimates.

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Jokowi Meets Xi

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s visit to China, the European Union’s emergency energy meeting, and the IMF’s latest global economic estimates.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Jokowi Meets Xi

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is in Beijing today, where he meets with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as well as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

It will be the fifth time Widodo, commonly known as Jokowi, will visit China, which ranks as Indonesia’s No. 1 trading partner.

But this visit is different. Xi’s audiences with foreign leaders have largely been kept to videoconferences since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, and the last time the Chinese president met another world leader in person was in February, when Beijing hosted the 2022 Winter Olympics.

As current president of the G-20, Widodo will hope to earn the right to host Xi later this year in Bali at the group’s summit meeting and is expected to extend the invitation in person during today’s visit.

Xi’s attendance at the summit would be out of the ordinary. He has only left mainland China once since February 2020 to visit Hong Kong. Even if China’s zero-COVID policy is still in place, Xi’s position will likely be stronger by the time the Bali meeting rolls around. It comes just after the Chinese Communist Party Congress, where Xi is expected to be named to a third term in office.

In keeping with Indonesia’s historically nonaligned position between global powers, Widodo has also invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the summit. The Kremlin has accepted, but it has yet to confirm whether Putin will go in person. (Wary of taking sides, Widodo also extended an invite to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.)

Beyond those diplomatic niceties, Widodo and Xi have business to discuss. The Indonesian leader is expected to bring up the topic of funding for his planned new capital, Nusantara, a $34 billion project aimed at supplanting the current sinking seat of government in Jakarta.

The two also have a chance to discuss the development of the high-speed Jakarta-Bandung railway, which has been constructed with the help of China’s state-owned enterprises but has been plagued by delays. Although the rail line isn’t officially a Belt and Road project, the visit is also an opportunity to renew Indonesia’s participation in the infrastructure initiative, as the original memorandum of understanding between the two nations expires this month.

On Xi’s side of the table, he’s expected to bring up the AUKUS submarine deal, which will see the United States and United Kingdom provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. China has been an outspoken opponent of the deal, and Xi may find a sympathetic ear with the Indonesian leader, whose government viewed AUKUS “cautiously” when it was announced and expressed deep concern “over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region.”

Any chance of a Chinese-Indonesian military alignment is unlikely, however, not least because of their competing claims in the South China Sea. And although the Biden administration has struggled to align its foreign-policy priorities toward Asia, the Indonesian and U.S. militaries retain close ties.

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Indonesia earlier this week, the first time the highest-ranking U.S. military officer has traveled to the country since 2008. Milley said he wanted the U.S. military to “develop interoperability” with Indonesian forces and “modernize our militaries collectively,” so that they could “meet whatever challenge that China poses.”


What We’re Following Today

The IMF’s outlook. The International Monetary Fund releases its updated World Economic Outlook today after weeks of warning of further downgrades to global economic growth. The IMF already slashed its estimate to 3.6 percent growth following the war in Ukraine. Earlier in July, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva warned that the outlook since April had “darkened significantly,” and she did not rule out a global recession coming by the end of the year.

Macron in Cameroon. French President Emmanuel Macron begins an official visit to Cameroon today, where he is expected to meet with Cameroonian President Paul Biya. Macron’s travels take him to Benin and Guinea-Bissau later this week. An unnamed French presidential official said Macron’s trip is meant to show that the French president will make Africa a “political priority” in his second term.

EU ministers talk energy. European Union energy ministers hold an extraordinary meeting in Brussels today to discuss preparations for winter amid fears of a gas shortage. Last week, the European Commission encouraged member states to adopt a 15 percent gas savings target, which would become mandatory in the event of a supply emergency. Europe already faces gas problems before winter, as Russia’s Gazprom announced a 20 percent cut in volumes to its Nord Stream European pipeline due to what the company described as technical issues.


Keep an Eye On

Pelosi’s Taiwan trip. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that China was “seriously prepared” to “take strong measures to resolutely respond and counteract” if U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi followed through with plans to visit Taiwan in August. Zhao added that “the United States should be held responsible for any serious consequences” of China’s response.

Myanmar’s executions. World leaders have condemned Myanmar’s military junta for executing four pro-democracy activists on terrorism charges on Monday. Those killed include Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former lawmaker with Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party. It was the first use of capital punishment in the country in decades.

A joint statement from the EU, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Britain, and the United States described the executions as “reprehensible acts of violence that further exemplify the regime’s disregard for human rights and the rule of law.”


Odds and Ends

Police in the Czech Republic have commandeered a high-powered Ferrari sports car and given it new life as a police vehicle. Jiri Zly, head of the police’s traffic department, said the car would help counter the “most aggressive” drivers and would be used to chase stolen cars.

Police also trumpeted the savings made by repurposing a seized car, which they said they only spent around $12,500 modifying. The car’s fuel economy may soon eat up that investment. The Ferrari burns through fuel at 18 miles per gallon, making it about as efficient as an average car in the 1970s.

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn

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