FUZHOU – Lin Ming, 48, developed the habit of studying the map of Indonesia ever since he first set foot in the sprawling archipelago 20 years ago.
It is a treasure map for him. In a lush village in suburban Semarang, the capital and largest city of Indonesia’s Central Java province, his company’s freshwater prawn farm, which covers an area of 333 hectares, produces over 35,000 metric tons of prawns per year.
The farm is located in Terboyo industrial park, which also harbors the company’s seafood processing plant that boasts cold storage of 5,000 tons and can process 200 tons of fish and prawns each day. About half of its products processed in Indonesia are shipped to China.
The company’s footprint has expanded to Central Sulawesi where they run a giant tiger prawn farm and to North Sulawesi where they plant konjak, a perennial plant with an edible corm.
Lin and his friends started their seafood processing business in Fuzhou, capital of East China’s Fujian province, in the 1990s. When they traveled to Indonesia to look for seafood suppliers, Lin smelt a business opportunity when local fishermen rushed to the Chinese for ice and refrigeration equipment.
They built a processing plant and cold storage warehouse in Semarang in 2002, and started a joint venture with local villagers to farm prawns.
“Local fish farming methods were very primitive, so we started with cementing the pond to prevent microbes from contaminating the water,” said Lin, executive director of Chasun Corporation. “Then we introduced modern facilities such as automatic feeders, oxygen concentrators and water monitoring systems.”
As the business grew in the country, Chasun reached an agreement with the local government to invest 1.76 billion yuan ($250 million) to expand its prawn farm and the processing plant.
“Aside from creating 800 jobs for locals, we have brought modern aquatic farming and processing techniques that will support the sustainable development of the local economy,” Lin said.
Chasun is one of the many Chinese companies ramping up their presence in Indonesia as the two countries look to strengthen trade and economic ties.
As Southeast Asia’s largest economy, Indonesia has strengthened ties with China. The two sides have been making continuous efforts to upgrade bilateral relations.
In April, the two countries signed important cooperative documents such as the guidelines on the construction of the regional comprehensive economic corridor in Indonesia.
Indonesia’s policy packages to attract foreign investment have been applauded by Chinese companies, especially those from Fujian, home to millions of Indonesian Chinese. The coastal province established a sister province relationship with Central Java in 2003.
Indonesia is Fujian’s important trading partner and largest source of imports in Southeast Asia. Statistics show that Fujian’s trade with Indonesia amounted to 50.7 billion yuan in 2018, up 27.3 percent year-on-year.
The archipelago has received around $3.69 billion in investment from 82 Fujian enterprises, while its Fujian-bound investment has reached $540 million.
Several Chinese developers, including CSCEC Strait Construction and Development Co Ltd, are looking to expand their property businesses in Indonesia.
In 2015, CSCEC Strait tapped into the Indonesian market and thus far it has undertaken five projects.
As Chinese enterprises expand their overseas footprints, locals have benefited from more job opportunities and improved infrastructure.
CSCEC Strait has created 2,200 jobs for Indonesians with another 1,500 forecast in the near future, according to Lou Xianfeng, general manager of the company’s Indonesian branch.