His visit to Jakarta ahead of the APEC summit in Bali is his first trip to an ASEAN nation since assuming China's top job. He'll later visit Malaysia.
Speaker: Dr Ooi Kee Beng, from the Institute of South East Asian Affairs in Singapore; Kornelius Purba, senior managing editor of the Jakarta Post
BIRTLES: Xi Jinping arrived in Jakarta late yesterday, ahead of a hugely symbolic speech in Indonesia's parliament today.
It's the first time a foreign leader will address a joint-sitting of the parliament.
The Senior Managing Editor of the Jakarta Post Kornelius Purba says Indonesia encourages China to play a more active role in ASEAN affairs.
'China is the second most powerful economic power after the United States, but also we want to see a China that can take more responsibility to ASEAN security and welfare.'
Unlike many of its ASEAN neighbours, Indonesia doesn't have a maritime border dispute with China in the South China Sea.
But Kornelius Purba says Jakarta is still wary of China's growing naval military might.
PURBA: 'There is a tendency from Indonesia to see China as more of a security threat to Indonesia, because Indonesia regards itself as a sub-regional super power. So for Indonesia, China's military build-up is worrying. Indonesia will never say that openly, but Indonesia actually agrees with the strong presence of the US in this region, without hosting any military base for the US.'
BIRTLES: As usual on overseas visits, the Chinese side is bringing economic muscle to the table. Infrastructure, technology and resources deals worth up to 20 billion dollars have been signed. The Chinese government has also signed a 15 billion dollar currency swap deal to help prop up the Indonesian rupiah, which has lost 16 per cent of its value this year.
It's all a far cry from the 23 year freeze on diplomatic relations brought about by a failed communist coup in Indonesia in the mid 1960s. Kornelius Purba says even after normalising relations in 1990, attitudes in Indonesia towards China have remained frosty.
PURBA: ''There's a deficit of trust because we have a long history in China, and again, Indonesia sees itself as a sub-regional superpower, and China's a threat, so China's not our best friend, nor our enemy.'
Xi Jinping will attend the APEC forum in Bali before leaving for his next stop - Malaysia - one of the countries that does have a maritime border dispute with China.
Dr Ooi Kee Beng from the Institute of South East Asian Studies in Singapore says Xi's diplomatic visit to South East Asia is vital for building trust.
OOI: 'I think any kind of dialogue or cordial visit is bound to allay some fears'.
BIRTLES: The fears of a more assertive Chinese military in the South China Sea has driven many South-East Asian countries to seek closer ties with the US, prompting Washington's pivot to Asia.
But just as Xi was arriving in Jakarta, the White House announced President Barack Obama would have to cancel plans to visit Malaysia and the Philippines, due to the US government shutdown. He's sending the Secretary of State John Kerry instead.
Dr Ooi says the increasing attention that South East Asian countries receive isn't likely to sway them from their long-held goal of balancing the great powers.
OOI: 'We are talking about relatively small countries other than Indonesia of course, so I think for many decades now they have come to the agreement that in international relations, their best bet is to stick together as best they can and to balance the great powers, and there's really no reason to move away from that. Of course, the rise of China has made the relationships slightly more complicated today, but the general wisdom still stands that all these small countries have to act as one, because they are very small countries and they're liable to be pulled apart if they're not consciously trying to stick together.