JUL 30 1998
Singapore Straits Times

China expresses concern to Jakarta

Indonesia should adopt earnest measures to deal with plight of Chinese Indonesians, Beijing says

MANILA -- Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan has told his Indonesian counterpart Ali Alatas that Beijing is concerned over the plight of ethnic Chinese Indonesians and asked Jakarta to adopt "earnest measures" to deal with the situation.

Taiwan has reacted too, denouncing, through its representative office in Jakarta and in Taipei as well, the attacks on ethnic Chinese women.

Yesterday, the official Xinhua news agency reported that Chinese Foreign Minister Tang told Mr Alatas here, on the sidelines of Asean's meetings with its major trading and security partners, on Tuesday:

"Chinese Indonesians, as members of the Indonesian family, have over the years worked hard and have made important contributions to Indonesia's economic development and social stability."

Referring to the riots in May, he said that "the unfortunate incident has aroused concern in the international community, and China has also been concerned over the matter".

He added that the legitimate rights and interests of the ethnic Chinese Indonesians, just as those of other citizens, should be protected by the Indonesian government.

"We hope the Indonesian government attaches importance to the current developments and adopts earnest measures to deal with them," Mr Tang was quoted as saying.

IN TAIPEI, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Jason Hu met Mr Ahmed Bey Sofwan, vice-chairman of the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office, Jakarta's de facto embassy in Taipei yesterday.

At the end of the meeting, he told reporters: "The representative office in Indonesia has more than once conveyed the government's stern position and concerns to the Indonesian government.

"On behalf of the government, we strongly condemned the violent and barbaric behaviour."

Indonesian President B.J. Habibie this month ordered an ad hoc group to investigate the assaults on women of Chinese descent in May, when mobs rampaged through Jakarta in an orgy of violence which left more than 1,000 people dead.

Foreign Minister Hu said: "We are anxiously looking forward to active operation of the investigative group... Hopefully the guilty would be brought to trial and truth and justice be administered." -- AFP