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After 70 years of ties, China and Indonesia have a fruitful, complicated relationship

eldarlmari

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Randy Mulyanto
Published: 9:30am, 12 Apr, 2020

Freelance writer Sylvie Tanaga, 33, has been learning Mandarin since she was a little girl – but her first lessons were held secretly in a church in Bandung, as Indonesia’s second president, Suharto, had for decades banned Chinese Indonesians from publicly expressing their culture. Tanaga’s paternal grandfather and her maternal grandparents were born in China before migrating to Indonesia, which inspired the family to make sure she kept learning the language.

Her fascination with China and Chinese-Indonesian affairs continued into adulthood. Last August, she embarked on a year-long government scholarship to study Mandarin at Hainan Normal University, though from last month she has been taking online classes from her Bandung home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“When I was studying in China, the teachers advised us to study Mandarin diligently so it would be easier for us to get a job or to do business with the Chinese,” Tanaga said.


Indonesia this month marks the 70th anniversary of bilateral relations with China. Although Suharto suspended diplomatic ties with Beijing from 1967 to 1990, ties have improved since then – and while the relationship between Beijing and Jakarta remains complicated, many Indonesians like Tanaga see China as a vital economic partner/

China’s investments in Indonesia came to US$4.7 billion with 2,130 projects last year, making it the second-largest investor in the archipelagic nation after Singapore. That figure made up 16.8 per cent of total foreign investments in the country, according to the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board.

Last year, Chinese tourists made up the second-largest group of foreign visitors to Bali, Indonesia’s tourism hub, accounting for 26.9 per cent of total visitors, according to figures from I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport.


Sylvie Tanaga is a third-generation Chinese Indonesian. Photo: Handout
Hu Zhiyong, a researcher at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said China-Indonesia relations had shown “all-round friendly cooperation” in terms of economic partnership as well as cultural, scientific and technological exchanges.


Evan A. Laksmana, a political scientist and senior researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank in Jakarta, said that from Indonesia’s standpoint, issues involving China could easily become “a major domestic political problem” as even small things could snowball into a big “China problem”. “So China as a whole is more ever-present in the minds of policymakers,” he said.

Djauhari Oratmangun, Indonesia’s ambassador to China, last year said that by cooperating with China, Indonesia would be able to grow its digital economy to US$100 billion by 2025.


That view is shared by business leaders like Calvin Neonardi, a third-generation Chinese-Indonesian who is director of the Indonesia China Business Council and vice-secretary general of Indonesia Guangdong Association Federation. He points out that Chinese companies like Tencent and Alibaba – which owns the South China Morning Post – have major stakes in Gojek and Tokopedia, the two largest Indonesian unicorns.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg, and I can see that a large number of innovations in this sector will continue to attract Chinese investments and technologies,” Neonardi said. “It’s a two-way street, in which we will learn much from China economically and financially. Many Indonesians believe China represents the future, in that Indonesia’s economic fortunes will be inevitably and increasingly tied to China.”


A driver for Gojek – one of Indonesia’s largest unicorns – rides his motorcycle through a street in Jakarta’s business district. Photo: Reuters
A. Ibrahim Almuttaqi, head of the Asean Studies Program at The Habibie Centre think tank in Jakarta and author of Jokowi’s Indonesia and the World, said China was currently Indonesia’s “major economic partner” in a way the United States or Japan was in the past.


Teuku Rezasyah, a lecturer in international relations at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, said improved relations between Beijing and Jakarta could be seen in infrastructure like roads, seaports, railways and mining, as China was “bringing high technology and a large workforce” into Indonesia.

President Xi Jinping on April 2 said “China stands ready to support and assist Indonesia in overcoming” the Covid-19 pandemic. “China is willing to work with Indonesia to continuously deepen cooperation in building the belt and road and push forward the development of their comprehensive strategic partnership,” he said according to state news agency Xinhua, referring to the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s globe-spanning infrastructure plan.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma, through his eponymous foundation and the Alibaba Foundation, has donated 2 million face masks, 150,000 test kits, 20,000 sets of protective gear and 20,000 face shields to Indonesia as well as three other nations in Southeast Asia.

However, the pandemic has seen a drop in Chinese investments and tourist arrivals in Indonesia. Laksmana of the CSIS said with the Covid-19 issue, most major projects, including those undertaken with China, would be “on hold for at least two or three years” as the priority would be on mitigation and public health systems.


Indonesian visitors pose for photographs during Lunar New Year celebrations at Maha Vihara Maitreya temple in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo: EPA
“So I’m not convinced that we have enough fiscal space to engage in major projects, whether it’s belt and road-specific or in general,” he said.


Despite the current setback, Hu of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences said Indonesia was an “important” country in the belt and road initiative. “The Indonesian government is very supportive of China’s initiative and actively connects with it,” he said.

Coordinating maritime affairs and investment minister Luhut Pandjaitan last March said Indonesia would propose 28 projects worth US$91.1 billion to Chinese investors. Past projects under the plan included a US$6 billion high-speed rail linking Jakarta and Bandung, set to be completed in 2021, and a US$1.8 billion coal-fired power plant in Banten province that is being built by state-owned China Shenhua Energy.

Anti-Chinese social media ‘more scary than Covid-19’ in Indonesia

Almuttaqi of The Habibie Centre said the belt and road plan had been “somewhat slow to take off” in Indonesia. “There are bureaucratic and logistical challenges all investors face in Indonesia, such as resolving land issues and receiving necessary permits.”

ANTI-CHINA SENTIMENT

Despite the strong diplomatic ties between Beijing and Jakarta, tensions in the South China Sea and controversy over the treatment of Uygur Muslims in China’s westernmost region of Xinjiang add to the lingering
anti-China sentiment
felt by some Indonesians. Jakarta in December lodged a diplomatic protest with Beijing over alleged illegal fishing by Chinese boats within Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone off its Natuna Islands, while China said the waters were within its nine-dash line claim in the disputed South China Sea.


Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspects troops during a visit to the Natuna Islands following a stand-off with Beijing. Photo: AP
As the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, Indonesia in the past has voiced its support for Rohingyas and Palestinians – but on the Uygur issue, the government’s official stance is that it will not interfere with Beijing’s handling of the ethnic minority, suggesting it is China’s internal affair.


Last December, hundreds of Indonesian Muslims protested in front of the Chinese embassy in Jakarta over the issue, urging Jakarta to pressure Beijing on it.

Rezasyah of Padjadjaran University said Jakarta had privately raised its concerns on the issue, rather than criticising Beijing publicly like some Western governments.

“This way of expressing criticism is in accordance with Chinese culture, and is better understood by China because it does not embarrass it, and allows more recent information to be obtained,” he said.


Laksmana of the CSIS said there would be “genuine political and economic costs” if Indonesia raised the issue, adding that the international community would then point to the struggle for self-determination in the restive region of Papua.

He said the result could be similar to what happened with East Timor, which voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999 due to “the ability of the East Timorese to internationalise the issue”.

Almuttaqi of The Habibie Centre said Indonesia’s silence on the issue “has been interpreted by some as … having been bought off by China’s economic leverage”.

Anti-Chinese sentiment in Indonesia has spiked following the Covid-19 outbreak, with The Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict pointing out that much of the rhetoric on social media “has been purely racist hate speech”.


A demonstrator at a protest in front of China’s embassy in Jakarta against the treatment of the Uygur ethnic group in western China. Photo: DPA

“It builds on a long historical base and plays into political concerns in different parts of the public about the dependence [of President Joko Widodo’s government] on China for infrastructure development and foreign investment, especially in the extractive sector,” said the report, which was released this month.
It added that “the number of Chinese workers rose dramatically [after a new mining law was passed in 2009], causing local resentment over pay differentials, perceived preferential hiring of foreigners over locals, culture clashes, pollution and corruption”.

Indonesia’s manpower ministry has told local media there were 40,357 foreign workers from China in the country as of February 3.

Experts said some Indonesians’ hostility towards China could have an impact on the country’s ethnic Chinese minority.

“The simple reality is that a lot of people, [including the] political elite at the local or national level … are either ignorant of the fact that Chinese Indonesians in Indonesia are separate from China as a government and the Chinese people, or they prefer to politically conflate them,” Laksmana of the CSIS said.

He said things were “slowly changing” on a societal level, noting that more Chinese Indonesians were active in politics and involved in charity work, although the polarisation in recent years might be hampering progress in these areas.

For her part, Bandung-based writer Tanaga also thinks China is doing “a great job”, given how it has transformed from the “poor country” her grandparents left into what it is now.

She still sees anti-Chinese sentiment in Indonesia, but noted it was more obvious during the blasphemy trial of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, who is of an ethnic Chinese Christian background and was sentenced to prison in 2017.

For now, the discrimination “seems subtle”, Tanaga said. “Being proud of China’s achievements only because I am Chinese while turning a blind eye to the reality that is happening in Indonesia, for me it is also an act of racism,” she said.
 
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eldarlmari

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She still sees anti-Chinese sentiment in Indonesia, but noted it was more obvious during the blasphemy trial of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, who is of an ethnic Chinese Christian background and was sentenced to prison in 2017
Anti-Chinese sentiment in Indonesia has spiked following the Covid-19 outbreak, with The Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict pointing out that much of the rhetoric on social media “has been purely racist hate speech”.
= rampant racism against the chinese. This is contrary to what the innocent-acting hypocritic posters in this forum, aside from the outright racist ones- tried to hide n downplay. Post-1998, its the the same. Another massaccre is in the making.

Experts said some Indonesians’ hostility towards China could have an impact on the country’s ethnic Chinese minority.

= noone, should ever live under the constant threat, fear and feelings of oppression to themselves- especially those that are enhanced by- but not exclusively- due to geopolitical issues.



Political power is in the hands of the oppresors, economic power is in the hands of the oppressed.

As the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, Indonesia in the past has voiced its support for Rohingyas
= voice 'support'(aka semua cakap nia), but never absorb n intergrate them in.

Indonesian society:

bawah = hitam
tengah = coklat
atas = kuning
lagi atas = putih

the rohinya, to these hypocritical, supposedly-native indonesians , r of no difference from the very same people they discriminate back at home, which is just about almost every1 else


What bloody hypocrites. told u, hypocrisy is heavy here- i can smell it from several of the 'act-holy' posters in this subforum.

Her fascination with China and Chinese-Indonesian affairs continued into adulthood. Last August, she embarked on a year-long government scholarship to study Mandarin at Hainan Normal University, though from last month she has been taking online classes from her Bandung home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When I was studying in China, the teachers advised us to study Mandarin diligently so it would be easier for us to get a job or to do business with the Chinese,” Tanaga said.

They should. They the Indonesian chinese, have the full support of the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo_network behind them. The overseas Chinese, particularly the Singaporean ones- have their backs. Singapore will gladly absorb them(further) if it boils down to that point.


China’s investments in Indonesia came to US$4.7 billion with 2,130 projects last year, making it the second-largest investor in the archipelagic nation after Singapore. That figure made up 16.8 per cent of total foreign investments in the country, according to the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board.
That view is shared by business leaders like Calvin Neonardi, a third-generation Chinese-Indonesian who is director of the Indonesia China Business Council and vice-secretary general of Indonesia Guangdong Association Federation. He points out that Chinese companies like Tencent and Alibaba – which owns the South China Morning Post – have major stakes in Gojek and Tokopedia, the two largest Indonesian unicorns.
= mentioned this in another thread that, high marktet cap companies r almost, always owned by overseas players. Hence, capital outflow is very high in Indonesia.



posters here should take off their topeng wayang

 
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nufix

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= rampant racism against the chinese. This is contrary to what the innocent-acting hypocritic posters in this forum, aside from the outright racist ones- tried to hide n downplay. Post-1998, its the the same. Another massaccre is in the making.



= noone, should ever live under the constant threat, fear and feelings of oppression to themselves- especially those that are enhanced by- but not exclusively- due to geopolitical issues.



Political power is in the hands of the oppresors, economic power is in the hands of the oppressed.

= voice 'support'(aka semua cakap nia), but never absorb n intergrate them in.

Indonesian society:

bawah = hitam
tengah = coklat
atas = kuning
lagi atas = putih

the rohinya, to these hypocritical, supposedly-native indonesians , r of no difference from the very same people they discriminate back at home, which is just about almost every1 else


What bloody hypocrites. told u, hypocrisy is heavy here- i can smell it from several of the 'act-holy' posters in this subforum.




They should. They the Indonesian chinese, have the full support of the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo_network behind them. The overseas Chinese, particularly the Singaporean ones- have their backs. Singapore will gladly absorb them(further) if it boils down to that point.





= mentioned this in another thread that, high marktet cap companies r almost, always owned by overseas players. Hence, capital outflow is very high in Indonesia.



posters here should take off their topeng wayang

I just realized that your threads are basically you just copy pasteing your posts from other threads. Interesting.

Anyway, not all Indonesians are familiar with Wayang you know. Maybe only around 40-50% actually familiar with Wayang and not even all Wayang dances have masks. Actually, those masks were influence of chinese masks, so maybe your analogy actually just described you? :azn:
 

eldarlmari

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I just realized that your threads are basically you just copy pasteing your posts from other threads. Interesting.

Anyway, not all Indonesians are familiar with Wayang you know. Maybe only around 40-50% actually familiar with Wayang and not even all Wayang dances have masks. Actually, those masks were influence of chinese masks, so maybe your analogy actually just described you? :azn:
copied from where? link pls. i have amnesia


thx
 

eldarlmari

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what is your search engine keywords? it seems that you always have funny pictures for every type of situation.
yup, i love using pictures- esepcially memes- to convey what im trying to say; its more dramatic and effective.

thx.

I just realized that your threads are basically you just copy pasteing your posts from other threads. Interesting.

Anyway, not all Indonesians are familiar with Wayang you know. Maybe only around 40-50% actually familiar with Wayang and not even all Wayang dances have masks. Actually, those masks were influence of chinese masks, so maybe your analogy actually just described you? :azn:
here's more:


Indonesians have special practices:







 

nufix

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yup, i love using pictures- esepcially memes- to convey what im trying to say; its more dramatic and effective.

thx.


here's more:


Indonesians r a special people:





Ok, they are funny of course. We call them dukun and they are doing funny stuff for funny people as well.
 

eldarlmari

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nice-looking artifact she's holding:



This kinda remind me of these pastors in the US that can heal a crowd of people with “dissabilities”.

But what is the relation of this picture to your thread?
u said this:
I just realized that your threads are basically you just copy pasteing your posts from other threads. Interesting.

Anyway, not all Indonesians are familiar with Wayang you know. Maybe only around 40-50% actually familiar with Wayang and not even all Wayang dances have masks. Actually, those masks were influence of chinese masks, so maybe your analogy actually just described you? :azn:


so im highlighting some of the indigenous practices that more indonesians would be familiar with.

thx.
 

nufix

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nice-looking artifact she's holding:




u said this:




so im highlighting some of the indigenous practices that more indonesians would be familiar with.

thx.
Yes but they are not even relevant to the mask dance analogy you had there. So, what is the point of the pictures?
 

eldarlmari

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Yes but they are not even relevant to the mask dance analogy you had there. So, what is the point of the pictures?
nope, the point is u said 'only 40-50%' are familair with those masks.

so i showed what MORE indonesians would be familair with

why r u so afraid of those pictures here?

thx.
 

nufix

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nope, the point is u said 'only 40-50%' are familair with those masks.
so i showed what MORE indonesians would be familair with

why r u so afraid of those pictures here?

thx.
nope I am not afraid of the pictures, they exist in our society so why try to hide it?

but these are not relevant to the mask dance analogy you have there. We have other dance like Saman dance, Selamat Datang dance that dont involve mask at all.
 

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