September 26, 2022

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Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Santi Dewi of IDN Times

7 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Jakarta, Indonesia

U.S. Embassy

QUESTION:  So please welcome Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.

QUESTION:  Hello.  How are you doing, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I’m doing so well because I’m here in Jakarta.  It’s wonderful to be back, and we’ve had a very, very good 24 hours with President Jokowi, with my friend and colleague Minister Retno, other friends and colleagues, and it’s been a very, very good visit.

QUESTION:  Okay.  I’ll just jump on to the question because you mentioned earlier that you met President Jokowi during yesterday, right?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Mm-hmm, that’s right.

QUESTION:  And our president said that there will some kind of promise of investment from United States to Indonesia.  Could you tell us what kind of investment that – which will be invested to our country?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, first, President Jokowi and President Biden had a very productive meeting in Glasgow during the climate talks, the COP26.  In fact, it went on twice as long as it was scheduled for because they had so much to talk about.

One of the things they talked about was investment, including investment in infrastructure.  And we have a program that we developed through the G7 countries, the largest economies in the world, called Build Back Better World, where we’re working closely with partner countries like Indonesia to identify really good projects for new infrastructure investment in health infrastructure, in digital infrastructure, in hard infrastructure, green infrastructure.  So we’re very actively looking at all that in partnership with Indonesia.

QUESTION:  Is it already – there is a number of investments which will be coming to Indonesia?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, I can’t give you a number, but we expect overall, working with our private sector, which is where most of the investment comes from, to mobilize overall hundreds of billions of dollars for investment infrastructure.  There’s a huge need around the world and, of course, here in Indonesia.

QUESTION:  Okay.  And I’d like to touch issue about the China and also the South China Sea.  Your visit to Southeast Asia region, especially to Indonesia, was perceived by China as an attempt to revive the Cold War era, because it seems that the relationship between Indonesia and China grows stronger.  What your feel on that, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  This visit, all of our engagement, is not about China.  It’s about the region that we share.  We’re a Pacific and Indo-Pacific country ourselves.  And we see our future as being absolutely tied to this region.  It’s the fastest-growing region in the world.  Half the world’s population is here.  It’s got incredibly dynamic and young people who are doing extraordinary things.  And our interest is not about keeping anyone down or keeping anyone out.

It’s about building the relationship across the region and making sure that we have what is truly a free and open Indo-Pacific.  And that means something.  It means that for individuals, they can live their lives freely in open societies.  For countries, it means that they can chart their own path and choose their own partners.  And for the region as a whole, it means that countries get along in a way that’s defined by collaboration and cooperation, not coercion, and where goods and people and ideas can flow freely, whether it’s in cyber space or on the seas or in the air.

QUESTION:  Okay, okay.  Because recently, China has been acting aggressively towards Indonesia in Natuna Sea.  As you may know, recently, they sent us a letter of protest to halt drilling on offshore rig in Natuna Sea, because they think that it was taking place in China’s territory.  In fact, it was done in our territory.  They also sent a letter to protest the U.S. and Indonesia military exercise.  Do you think that China has the right thing to do so, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  There are rules, there are laws, there’s international law, there’s the Law of the Sea, and we all need to abide by that.  And unfortunately, China has made claims, including the ones you mentioned, that are not supported or justified by international law.  And that’s, unfortunately as well, an element of instability in the region when we all have a strong interest in stability, so that commerce can flow freely and we avoid conflict.

So my hope is that all of us, including China, will play by the rules, will play by the understandings that have been reached, will play by international law.  And if we all do that, that’s one of the ways to make sure that this really is a free and open part of the world.

QUESTION:  So you don’t think that U.S. and China right now is heading to some sort of military confrontation?  Because your ship is there, China’s also.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We have no interest in conflict or in confrontation.  In fact, I think it’s the responsibility of leaders – and this is something that President Biden said to President Xi when they last spoke – to make sure that even when we have differences and even with the strong competition that exists between us, we make sure that we manage that in a way that doesn’t result in conflict.  That will be bad for everyone.  It’s not something we want, not something we seek, and we’re determined to manage it effectively.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Next, we’d like to discuss about climate change.  Your President Joe Biden recently made an interesting speech that Indonesia will be one of the country – will – which will be impacted by the climate change.  And his projection was that Jakarta, our capital city, will be sink in the next 20 years, so we have to move immediately to another city.  So I wonder what Indonesia and United States can do together to prevent that the projection will be coming into reality?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Virtually every country is now affected by climate change, but Indonesia probably more than most, for obvious reasons – by its geography, by the maritime environment in which it’s placed.  And the fact of the matter is we all have an obligation to work together to prevent further ravages caused by climate change, and that’s exactly what we’re doing in Glasgow at COP26.  Countries came together, including Indonesia and the United States, to take real steps forward in dealing with the challenge before us.

For example, Indonesia has signed onto the Global Methane Pledge which binds us – all of us – to voluntarily curb our methane emissions by 30 percent by the end of the decade.  If we do that and if China comes along as well, that would be the equivalent of taking every airplane out of the skies and every ship off the seas in terms of the emissions that they produce.  And similarly, we’ve made important steps forward on deforestation – to prevent that and to reforest, because that’s a very important aspect of dealing with climate change.

Altogether at – in Glasgow, 65 percent of the world’s GDP made commitments that, if they’re fulfilled – that’s an important point – we would keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  Now 35 percent still haven’t signed on, so we need to see other countries do that, but here’s the other very important point.  We saw something else in Glasgow.  We saw a young generation of people from all of our countries demanding change, demanding action, demanding progress.

QUESTION:  Yes.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  And that’s an incredibly important driver.  They’re holding all of the leaders, all of us to account, to make sure that we actually deal with the problem before us.

QUESTION:  It’s interesting because you mentioned young generation trying to demand to the leaders to make a change for the better, that we’re living in, because they think that the leaders does not hold up for their promises, because by the end of the COP26, the resolution still not guarantee that the temperature rise will be limited to 1.5 degree.  So do you think the Glasgow impact still is a step forward rather than step back?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  It’s definitely a step forward, but it’s not far enough.  We have to do more, and so people are right.  We’re not there yet.  The commitment – as I said, the commitments that were made for 65 percent of the world’s GDP would keep us to 1.5, but those commitments have to be actually implemented, so that’s part of the story, and then we have to bring the other 35 percent of GDP along that is not part of this yet.

So we have work to do, but I – again, I’m really inspired by a younger generation that is calling us to account.  And what that does is it brings new ideas, new energy into solving this problem.  And it also tells us what we hear from a younger generation, which is so important, is that just because we did something one way for 10 years or 20 years or 30 years in the past doesn’t mean we need to do it the same way for the next 10 or 20 or 30.

QUESTION:  Okay.  So my last questions to you is that:  What is your message to young Indonesian and future leaders out there who try to make a better change for its country?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  My message is simple:  Keep speaking up.  Keep engaged.  Make your voices heard.  Hold all of us accountable.  Because at the end of the day, we’re going to hand off this world to you, and it’s our responsibility to try to hand off a better world than the one we inherited.  So those voices, your voices, are so important, and we’ll be listening.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Thank you very much, Secretary Blinken, for your time, and I hope you have a safe flight to your next destination.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Thanks so much.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Nice to be with you.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

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