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Critics in the Maldives likely sighed relief when Saudi King Salman this week postponed his visit because of an outbreak of flu. The flu is however unlikely to halt a planned massive Saudi investment or the impact on Maldives society of the kingdom’s religion-driven public diplomacy. [...] Yet, religion often was an elephant in the room on most stops on King Salman’s trip that took him to Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, China and Japan.

"Africa will become Indonesias priority in 2017. We will enhance our relations with Africa," Director of African Affairs of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry Daniel Tumpal Simanjuntak stated recently. [...] The two ministers co-chaired a meeting of Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation focusing on intensifying economic cooperation between both nations.

The Indonesian Embassy in Moscow will again host the Festival Indonesia this year as part of economic diplomacy efforts to promote superior products and the potential of Indonesia. [...] The Festival Indonesia this year to promote superior products of Indonesia will be enlivened by among other things, business forum, products exhibition, Indonesian arts and cultural performances, and information services on Indonesia.

Cities are engines of economic growth. Due to unique social, environmental and physical challenges, ASEAN cities should be able to find their own way in dealing with these issues. Collective lessons will need to be drawn from various city development projects implemented by ASEAN member states with support from international donors. These will hopefully lead ASEAN’s cities to their sustainable and livable future.

Indonesia has decided that its foreign policy in 2017 will focus on intensifying interactions with other countries to protect the nation`s interests, security, ideological objectives, and economic prosperity. To this end, the country continues to participate in implementing world order based on freedom, lasting peace, and social justice. Creating a peaceful world is also one of the national goals outlined in the Preamble of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia.

Despite huge cultural gaps, Chinese online literature, especially fantasy novels featuring martial arts and magical powers, has created a reading frenzy among foreign readers, Xinhua News Agency reports. Fascinated by the cultural elements contained in Chinese web novels and their imaginative plots, many foreigners have spontaneously begun to translate these works.

There is still time for China to reroute its current trajectory from strengthening its hard power to loosening its soft power nerves. A great number of people wish to learn more and understand the Chinese culture. However, at the same time, they also wish for a China that is welcoming and does not feel victimized by foreign powers, because, the end of the day, all that we ever want is to experience A Bite of China.

CineAsia is upon us already, the last major cinema conference of the year and a time to take stock. This show has taken on new significance in recent years as it highlights the growth of Asia as a film market and the increasing importance of the region to global cinema. The Asia-Pacific region will account for 40.4% of global box office in 2016.

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