Journalist: Dear President Wang and President Zeng, both of you have come to Indonesia to invest and explore business opportunities, you must be fully-occupied. We really thank you for spending time with us for this interview. On behalf of The Belt and Road Journal towards, I really appreciate your support! Are your investments going well in this foreign country regardless of the differences in language and culture? Please share your thoughts and feelings with us.
President Wang: It has been over a year since I first came to Bali looking for investment in October, 2016. The obvious impression I had for investing here was the co-existence of opportunity and challenge. As the saying goes, you hope the ship goes fast when you are taking it. Under great support and help from local governments and friends from all fields when we first arrived in Bali, all of our work went smoothly. We also hope to play a greater part in the construction of Bali’s tourism and infrastructure and serve local people in a better way.
Journalist: President Zeng, do you have the same feelings with President Wang? Could you share your thoughts towards “the co-existence of opportunity and challenge”?
President Zeng: I have the same feelings towards “the co-existence of opportunity and challenge” of the investment environment in Bali. First of all, during my years in Indonesia, I saw President Joko Widodo’s determination in vigorous reform developing the domestic economy and a series of reform policies were issued pertaining thereto. However due to lacking in communication channel and popularization, regional governments might not understand the central government’s requirements, let alone the foreign investors, which caused inadequate policy implementation. Here is an example: for one of our projects, as the provincial and municipal governments were unfamiliar with national investment policies, we had to consult Central Planning Department and Director of Investment Board in which we learned that the central government had enacted integral regulations and operating procedures towards attracting foreign investments, like the project we are currently pursuing but the regional governments were unfamiliar with these regulations and procedures. Personally, I believed the regulations and procedures were perfect because a good investment-attracting policy must comply with Indonesia’s reality benefiting the investors. And more importantly, it must be workable.
Secondly, the thoughts of self benefiting and benefiting public policy plays an important role in a country’s development. For some projects, there might be certain officials of having selfish thought of self benefiting first before the result of development benefiting the country, the society and the public. Such a bureaucratic working style had seriously influenced the public’s thoughts. For example, the deveopment of Jakarta-Bandung High Speed Railway project had encountered too many serious problems because the government had no set rules for acquiring public land and re-sale to the investors at a set costs resulting much higher cost than the prevailing market conditions. Many land owners seeing this an opportunity by asking acquisition cost far much higher than what it is in the market
If a country wants to succeed in reform, the central government, regional governments and the public must work together with a common a common ground set aside with the thought of self benefiting abandoning self interests to ensure public interests come first, and even sacrificing short-term interests to achieve mid-term and long-term interests. Take the land sale in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China, as an example. There is a building in the busiest business district in downtown of Quanzhou known as Xianluan Mansion. Overseas Chinese bought the land and had the mansion built in the 1990s. At that time, there was no centralized commerce or commercial buildings over ten floors high. In ordear to develop local economy and create business booming in nearby districts, the municipal government sacrificed immediate interests by selling this subject land to foreign building investors at a price of RMB2,000, 000, being only one tenth of the market price. After building completion of this Xianluan Mansion, this attracted business entities from all fields, flourished commerce in nearby districts, turned many undeveloped lands to prosperous commercial districts, increased property prices and increased government revenues, with local employment problems solved.
Journalist: President Zeng mentioned many challenges. President Wang, what do you think are the opportunities for investing in Indonesia?
President Wang: Indonesia is falling behind in infrastructural construction and other aspects, this has given rise to many investment opportunities. Particularly, the magnificent goal of “Building Ten New Bali” proposed by President Joko Widodo provided investors with more choices. However, this has not so far received positive investment moves or no solid investment plans had been attracted. This might have been contributed by what was already mentioned early on. “Wrong atmosphere” might have influenced the country’s image and turned away investors’ confidence.
Journalist: President Wang and President Zeng, since you two have chosen to invest here, what are your opinions toward these problems?
President Wang: Indonesia encouraged freedom of belief. However Indonesia would do better than currently! Learn from developed country like China, starting from education, solving the problems of human powers, technology.
Make corresponding policies solving the seriousness of lacking qualified talented professionals. Highlight the “going out learning” and “bringing in expertise” as national strategies.
- To love your country and be loyal to your country, education propaganda, morality should be covered in the curriculum.
- Solving the problems of lacking the talented and quality professionals, public servants, problem like going out learning, returning with expertise has been overlooked.
- Problem of technology, Indonesia stepped into the third industrial revolution before stepping out from the second industrial revolution, let alone stepping in the fourth industrial revolution. For instance, in December 1978, facing competition in world economy technology at the beginning of China’s reform and opening-up, caused by the weak economy strength, insufficient resources, large population, and disparate level of developments, Chairman Deng Xiaoping made it clear that “we were still in the primary stage of socialism. The basic task of socialism was to develop productivity and technology was paramount to productivity.” He also emphasized that “if we wanted to achieve modernization, we had to develop technology. For this end, we had to develop education. ”
- Strengthen the popularization of policies, set up information communication channels. The key to overcome difficulty in policy implementation was a matter of popularisation of policies and its speedy effective implementation. The Chinese government convened the 19th CPC National Congress in October 2017. The central government took the lead, followed by the regional governments in organizing special meetings for learning of “the spirits of the 19th CPC National Congress”, made use of different kinds of propaganda from the government and local communities), spreading out the spirits of 19th CPC National Congress to regional governments and the public. The spirits of the 19th CPC National Congress were soon widely known at home and abroad. The central government of Indonesia could possibly look into this multi ways of channeling media communication
Journalist: Indonesia used to be one of the 4 Tigers in the Asian economies in Asia. It was then prosperous in its economy. President Zeng, what do you think are the causes for the present circumstance in Indonesia?
President Zeng: Personally, I believe the causes were the misguidance of American thoughts and the “Asian Financial Crisis” created by Soros in 1998. Thailand was the first economy seriously affected by the crisis, followed by closely-related countries including Indonesia and Philippines. America’s democratic election system does not fit into the Indonesia’s elective system. The executive officials of the central government policies should be some virtuous people who would put Indonesian’s and country’s interests above their own vanity, strongly supporting the leadership of central government and were firmly supporting its policies. As a democratic country, Indonesia allowed local citizens to elect their own leaders through election with a five-year term of service. However, the central government has never taken the task of assessing the achievement of its candidates after successful election to office. In order to secure more supports and votes, candidates ended up spent money and owed a loyalty return to supports that becoming owe a debt to the voters to be paid back by money, entirely forgot realizing and upholding the promises during election time.
To ensure that central government policies were successfully implemented, the government needed strengthening supervision and assessment towards achievement of the candidates’ campaigning promises with refine assessment standards, set up five-year subjective directions (according to promises delivered during the election campaign) with annual review. The assessment system should cover economy, education, culture, environment protection, infrastructure construction and other all-round aspects. This is to aim at attracting investments with confidence because in a country like Indonesia that falling behind in economy and infrastructure, attracting investment should be the priority of every provincial and municipal government.
President Wang: As a foreign investor, we could not change the nation’s policy and what has already been the common practice of the government officials. We could do by being close to the government and people, coexist with them peacefully, know them better, think of their interests more and achieve win-win results. In the meantime, we do what we could contributing locally and meaninfully. In Indonesia, we must have patience and be ready for a long term fight, this would be a great challenge to us.