Belt and Road Initiative Indonesian Highway Project Accused of Wage Arrears, Protest Organized in Front of the Chinese Consulate

According to Taiwanese news source The Central News Agency (CNA), two protest banners accusing a Chinese State-owned construction company of non-payment were hung in front of the Chinese Consulate in Jakarta for several hours on January 29. The identity of the persons who hung the banners have not been confirmed. The Chinese construction company in question, Sinohydro 7th Bureau, shared that there is an ongoing negotiation regarding a dispute over the settlement of project payments.


On January 29 at noon, two black-and-white-banners were hung up by the street near the Chinese Consulate in Jakarta. One on the left said  “Strongly condemn Sinohydro’s Jakarta–Bandung Speed Rail project for owing Indonesian workers money. [Their] credibility [is] in ruins! Protect our rights! Uphold justice! Please pay back our hard-earned money!” in simplified Mandarin Chinese characters. 


Another banner wrote: “Strongly protest and condemn Sinohydro’s Jakarta–Bandung Speed Rail Project for defaulting the construction and lease payments to the Indonesian company! Owing debt without paying back, blatant breach of the law! Please pay back our hard-earned money!“


Image shows the banners in question. Source: CNA


Businesses near the consulate said that five Indonesian locals tied two protest banners to trees by the sidewalk across from the consulate and left swiftly. The banners were removed a few hours later.


According to China’s state media source, the Jakarta–Bandung Speed Rail (Kereta Cepat Jakarta–Bandung, or KCJB) project was a flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, President Xi Jinping’s massive, trillion-dollar foreign investment policy. The $500 million dollar railway project was completed by Sinohydro 7th Engineering Bureau Co. Ld. which, according to its official website, is a subsidiary of the Power Construction Corporation of China, a Chinese Central State-owned company – or a company directly supervised by the Chinese Communist Party’s central organ.


According to CNA, a Chinese employee of Sinohydro–who did not wish to be named–said, “Sometimes the situation is that we’ve already paid, but the workers don’t get the payments downstream. In fact, it is really their [the Indonesian construction company’s] internal issue, they won’t pay downstreams”.


When asked about the exact information of the Indonesian company involved in the dispute, the Chinese employee interviewed simply responded, “I’m not sure about the specifics regarding this dispute.”


The Jakarta-Bandung Speed Rail project, which connects Indonesia’s capital Jakarta with the major city of Bandung was originally expected to be operational in 2019. The project was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and land ownership disputes, and was not opened to traffic until October last year.


Credit: CNA

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