Mediating Between Abe and Xi
The first is the way Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzō and Chinese President Xi Jinping were often seen flanking Indonesian President Joko Widodo. From April 22, the three men frequently walked and sat together, with Widodo at the center. While Abe was forced to return to Japan the following day because of his tight schedule, Xi joined Widodo and other leaders on a symbolic stroll on April 24, commemorating the first Bandung Conference in 1955.
On the morning of April 22, Widodo could be seen engrossed in conversation with Abe on one side before turning the other way to talk to the Chinese president. Then at the evening art event, Indonesian First Lady Iriana Widodo took on the role of turning left and right to charm both leaders.
President Widodo had acknowledged the tense atmosphere between Abe and Xi and tried to neutralize it through smiles and relaxed conversation. He might have thought to himself, “If I could split my body into two and chat with two great leaders simultaneously, everyone would be happy.” Clearly he put much effort into fostering a mood of peace and friendship, although some tension still remained.