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How China’s foreign policy shapes prejudice against Chinese Indonesians


How do Indonesians’ views on the Individuals’s Republic of China at giant form their attitudes in the direction of Chinese language Indonesians? Do China’s home and overseas coverage actions have penalties on prejudice in the direction of Chinese language Indonesians? Our examine finds that they do not directly, by first affecting the advantages and downsides that Indonesians understand in fostering shut Sino-Indonesian relations.

Research that take a look at Sino-Indonesian relations have largely revolved round two subjects. The primary issues the rise of China and its penalties for Indonesia. Observers, for instance, have mentioned the significance of nearer Indonesia-India-Australia cooperation for sustaining regional stability, Indonesia’s economic dependence on China, and the centrality of ASEAN to managing a collective response from Southeast Asian international locations.

The second matter focusses on Chinese language Indonesians themselves. Works on this matter have appeared on the persistence of anti-Chinese sentiment, how this sentiment hinders closer ties between China and Indonesia, or how Beijing responds to threats in opposition to Chinese language diaspora. Works regarding Chinese language Indonesians and their place in Indonesian society have turn into much more necessary after the religiously and racially charged 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election.

These two subjects are undoubtedly necessary however they’re disconnected. We all know so much about China’s rising significance on the earth and to Indonesia particularly. We even have intensive information about discrimination confronted by Chinese language Indonesians. However how are these two associated?

Quite than analyzing how anti-Chinese language sentiment in Indonesia hinders Sino-Indonesian cooperation as most present research have accomplished, we’re wanting on the reverse. Do China’s home and overseas coverage actions have penalties for Chinese language Indonesians?

Our findings are nuanced. We discover that China’s home and overseas coverage actions do have an effect on prejudice towards Chinese language Indonesians. Nevertheless, these results are oblique in that these actions first have an effect on the advantages that Indonesians understand the nation will obtain from a detailed relationship with China. These perceived advantages in flip have an effect on the bias that Indonesians maintain towards Chinese language Indonesians.

We employed an experimental design embedded in a nationally consultant survey of Indonesian voters. A complete of two,020 respondents had been interviewed in January 2020 by the pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia.

By priming respondents with details about China’s actions as a state, the experiment was designed to control the advantages that respondents understand Indonesia would preserve from a detailed relationship with China, Respondents had been randomly assigned into one among 4 teams: (1) a management group (2) a territorial violation group (3) a Muslim discrimination group or (4) an funding group. Respondents within the management group obtained no background about China’s actions. The territorial violation group primed respondents with latest episodes of territorial violation the place China’s fishing boats and coast guard ships entered Indonesia’s Unique Financial Zones. The Muslim discrimination group made salient latest demonstrations by Indonesian Muslim organisations protesting China’s remedy of Muslim Uighur individuals. Lastly, the funding group primed respondents with a latest settlement between Indonesia and China to construct a high-speed rail project.

Determine 1 presents the wording for every of the remedy teams, together with questions concerning stereotypes in the direction of ethnic Chinese language whose solutions had been our dependent variables. These questions on stereotypes had been tailored from a latest survey by the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute. Extra particulars of the evaluation may be discovered on this blog post.

Determine 1: remedy wording within the survey experiment

We discovered that not one of the remedies had a statistically important impact on the views held by respondents on stereotypes about Chinese language Indonesians. Reminding respondents of China’s actions as a state didn’t immediately have an effect on their attitudes towards ethnic Chinese language Indonesians. Then again, we discover proof that the remedies considerably predicted respondents’ perceptions of how helpful a detailed relationship with China is for Indonesia. These perceptions, in flip, considerably predicted their views on stereotypes towards ethnic Chinese language Indonesians.

Adverse actions by China as a state—on this case, violating Indonesia’s territory and discriminating in opposition to the Muslim Uighur individuals—lower the perceived advantages of cooperating with China, which in flip enhance prejudice in opposition to Chinese language Indonesians. In distinction, optimistic actions by China—on this case, investing in a high-speed rail venture in Indonesia—enhance the perceived advantages of cooperating with China, which then lower the prevalence of unfavorable stereotypes towards Chinese language Indonesians.

For historic, socio-economic, and political causes, Chinese language Indonesians have skilled prejudice and discrimination in their very own nation. The glass-half-empty perspective offered by our examine is that the bias is made much more sophisticated by overseas elements. China’s home and overseas coverage actions show to have oblique penalties on Chinese language Indonesians. To the extent that an motion by China is perceived negatively by the Indonesian public, Chinese language Indonesians seemingly can be collateral injury.

On the identical time, the glass can be half full. The consequences documented right here will not be direct results. Merely studying about China’s actions doesn’t immediately have an effect on present prejudice in opposition to Chinese language Indonesians. The actions should be contextualised in opposition to the advantages that Indonesia stands to realize from shut China-Indonesia relations. This means that there’s a possibility to leverage Indonesia-China financial ties to enhance Indonesians’ attitudes towards Chinese language Indonesians.

Our examine, sadly, just isn’t outfitted to scrutinise what varieties of advantages had been in respondents’ minds after they thought of China-Indonesia relations. Financial advantages are a possible candidate. In any case, we do see that the funding remedy led to increased perceived advantages. However it is usually potential that respondents conceptualised advantages extra abstractly, corresponding to by way of Indonesia’s stature within the area or on the earth extra usually. Different students could wish to dig deeper into this query in a future examine.


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To this finish, analysis on immigration in Western international locations provides two key factors of observe. First, whereas individuals care deeply about themselves, they care too concerning the destiny of their nation. Which means data disseminated by the Indonesian state about the advantages of Indonesia-China cooperation should focus not solely on its results on the lives of common Indonesians, but additionally on its impacts on Indonesia as an entire.

Second, whereas individuals wish to have meals on the desk, additionally they worth extra summary ideas corresponding to nationwide identification and norms. Which means the Indonesian authorities shouldn’t body Indonesia-China relations completely on financial phrases. The federal government ought to interact with the difficulty of how these relations bear upon nationwide identification and whereas doing so, talk that “Chineseness” doesn’t imply menace.

Overcoming prejudice is unending work, and much more so when that prejudice was in some unspecified time in the future institutionalised by the state, as within the case of Chinese language Indonesians. However maybe there has not been a greater, and extra urgent, time to take up that problem than as we speak. China’s rising significance on the earth’s stage, if performed proper by Indonesia and China itself, can function a automobile not just for boosting Indonesia’s financial improvement but additionally for enhancing Indonesians’ attitudes towards Chinese language Indonesians.



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