Organized Panel Session
The rise of Chinese investment, Chinese foreign workers, and Chinese scholarship in Indonesia has created a new political front line. State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) found itself as the primary counterpart for Chinese investment lead by the Chinese SOEs. This reorganized the traditional elite policy network once anchored to the private to private businesses connection. Governors, Mayors and regional heads, the emerging power in decentralized Indonesia, found Chinese connection as a new source of power in outperforming the traditional power centers of Jakarta and Surabaya. Established Islamic organization such as NU and Muhammadiyah also found sending their clerics to China a promising choice in winning long term religious influence in the era of rising radical Islam. New power platform and networks are emerging derived from the growing presence of China in Indonesia.
However, this change in Indonesia cannot avoid the specter of “Chinese/China Problem” which repeatedly surfaced almost every 20 to 30 years. Indonesia, embracing one of the largest ethnic Chinese community in the world and also a country with one of the harshest anti-Chinese incidents in the past, thought to have tamed this specter through its democratization process. However, the anti-Ahok movement in 2016 reassured the specter was still alive and has awakened the identity politics on Chineseness. Anti-China politics could again easily be twisted into an Anti-Indonesian Chinese campaign.
Indonesia, historically being the political arena where China and the Chinese have been radically politicized, this panel discuss the above multiple avenues and patterns of Chinese impact on Indonesian politics.