China and Indonesia vowed to boost bilateral ties following high-level talks between their leaders, with Beijing pledging its support for the host nation of the upcoming Group of 20 summit. This came as Chinese President Xi Jinping received his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo in Beijing on Tuesday, the first foreign leader Xi has met in person since the Winter Olympics in February. The two leaders had “kind and friendly” talks, a joint statement released after their meeting said. “The two presidents believe China-Indonesia relations have great strategic significance and far-reaching global influence,” the statement read. Apart from the G20, Xi also pledged China’s support for Indonesia as rotating chair of the Asean bloc next year. Earlier on Tuesday, Widodo held talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, with both sides pledging to boost trade ties. The Indonesian leader, who landed late on Monday night, is believed to be visiting the Chinese capital in a highly guarded bubble that exempts foreign officials from the seven-day mandatory quarantine required of visitors as part of Covid-19 pandemic measures. President Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan later hosted a dinner for Widodo and his wife, Iriana. China’s support for Indonesia as chair for the G20 summit comes as Jakarta faces mounting US pressure to kick Russia out of the bloc over its invasion of Ukraine. “China strongly supports Indonesia’s G20 presidency and looks forward to a successful G20 Leaders Summit,” the joint statement following the Xi-Widodo meeting said. Widodo formally invited Xi to the G20 summit, according to the Indonesian government. Russia’s Lavrov arrives in Bali for G20, faces ‘vocal opponents’ of war Xi said Widodo’s trip to China “fully reflected the high importance both sides attach to the development of Sino-Indonesian relations”. “China and Indonesia are at similar stages of development and our common interests are linked, our philosophies and paths are similar, and our future destinies are at stake,” Xi told Widodo, according to state broadcaster CCTV. Xi said China would continue to “fully support” Indonesia’s efforts to build a regional hub for vaccine production and increase cooperation in public health, as well as its role in leading the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year. Beijing is willing to “strengthen solidarity and cooperation with Asean”, he said. Xi also urged the two sides to complete the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway “on time and with high quality ”. The 142km Chinese-backed project linking the Indonesian capital to West Java is one of the largest infrastructure undertakings in Southeast Asia. The meeting was held in Beijing’s Diaoyutai State Guest House, where Xi hosted dozens of heads of state including Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February. Before the pandemic, Chinese leaders would usually host foreign dignitaries at the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square. Widodo’s talks with Premier Li earlier in the day saw China pledge to increase imports of Indonesian crude palm oil by 1 million tonnes, Widodo said in an Instagram post. A wide range of other issues were also discussed, including investment infrastructure, finance, funding and maritime cooperation, he posted. As president of the Group of 20 this year, Widodo has sought to mend rifts within the group triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine . He travelled to meet Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky late last month and later took a message to President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Widodo said Indonesia was willing to be a “communication bridge” between the two leaders. Widodo’s trip to Beijing is significant for both nations. Widodo will be moving to gain support for Indonesia’s G20 chairmanship from Japan and South Korea next. As for China, Indonesia is a key nation in maintaining its relations with Southeast Asia, as it seeks to counterbalance US efforts to boost alliances in efforts the Chinese view as a containment strategy China is Indonesia’s largest trading partner, with bilateral volume last year reaching US$124.3 billion, up by nearly 60 per cent from 2020, according to official Chinese figures. Indonesia is also a major recipient of Chinese investment. It was in the capital Jakarta in 2013 that Xi, months after taking office as Chinese president, introduced the concept of a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the sea route section of the Belt and Road Initiative – his signature infrastructure and investment programme aiming to connect China with the rest of Asia, as well as Africa and Europe. Major Chinese projects in Indonesia include a regional comprehensive economic corridor, industrial parks and hydropower projects. However, some Chinese-backed investments have faced scrutiny, such as the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway. China-funded Indonesian rail link may take 40 years to become profitable The mega project was first proposed in 2015 and hailed by Chinese media as a shining example of bilateral cooperation. However, it has faced several delays since construction started in 2016, largely because of cost overruns and environmental concerns. The Indonesian government said earlier that a trial run would be carried out in November when the country hosts world leaders for the G20 summit in Bali. Earlier this month, China Railway Group, one of the Chinese contractors for the project, announced track laying had started, paving the way for full completion scheduled for June next year.