China’s Public Diplomacy in Indonesia: Problems and Challenges

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China’s Public Diplomacy in Indonesia: Problems and Challenges

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中国对印度尼西亚的公共外交: 问题与挑战 (申请清华大学法学硕士学位论文)

培 养 单 位 : 社会科学学院 学 研

科: 究


生 : 何江霖

指 导 教 师: 邢

悦 副教授


中 国 对 印 度 尼 西 亚 的 公 共 外 交 : 问 题 与 挑 战

何 江 霖

China’s Public Diplomacy in Indonesia: Problems and Challenges

Thesis Submitted to Tsinghua University in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Law in Political Science by Calvin

Thesis Supervisor:

Associate Professor Yue Xing

May, 2018

关于论文使用授权的说明 Statement on thesis usage authorisation 本人完全了解清华大学有关保留、使用学位论文的规定,即:学校有权保留 学位论文的复印件,允许该论文被查阅和借阅;学校可以公布该论文的全部或部 分内容,可以采用影印、缩印或其他复制手段保存该论文。 (涉密的学位论文在解密后应遵守此规定) I entirely understand Tsinghua University policies concerning reserving and using copies of graduate theses. That is, the university has the right to distribute a copy of the thesis and allow students to read and borrow it. The university may publicise the whole or part of the thesis content and distribute the thesis by means of filming, microfilming or any other duplication methods. (Any confidential thesis must also fully comply with this policy following declassification.)







摘 要

2013 年,中国和印度尼西亚将双边关系升级为“全面战略伙伴关系”之后, 两国开始通过各种渠道推动民间外交。然而事与愿违,中国的公共外交未能显著 增进两国人民之间的相互了解,并且在印尼面临一些挑战。本文旨在解释和研究 造成中国公共外交实践未能在印尼促成包容性环境的逻辑原因。 本文确定了公共外交的理论框架,以提供对这一概念的基本理解,包括对于 中国公共外交实践的总体理解。中国与印尼的双边关系对于解释两国之间的互动 提供了至关重要的历史背景。此外,对政治竞争等印尼国内因素的简要叙述也有 助于解释该国反华情绪背后的原因。中国在印尼的公共外交实践包括孔子学院、 奖学金、媒体外交和熊猫外交等。本文根据印尼国内精英阶层的政治议程以及中 国与其他国家相比僵化和缺乏灵活性的公共外交实践,对中国在印尼的公共外交 中存在的问题进行了检验。 尽管中国的公共外交实践对于促进两国人民之间的相互理解至关重要,但中 国公共外交实践中存在着过于僵化和缺乏灵活性的问题,这使得中国公共外交难 以总体上满足印尼公众的需求。中国公共外交面临的挑战也来自其他在公共外交 实践中更为成功的国家。这些国家成功地塑造了印尼民众对它们的看法,具体案 例包括瑞典在雅加达的“巴士外交”和日本的文化外交等。 本文的结论表明,中国必须采取更有效的方式来调整对印尼的公共外交,从 而解决现有的挑战和问题。中国政府可以与在印尼经营的中国企业协同行动,推 进中国公共外交。中国的外交官应该在提升外交工作创造性方面被给予更大发挥 空间,例如为企业设立激励机制等。在“一带一路”倡议时期,中国必须推动这 些变化,为中国外交政策提供支持并提升政策效果。




Abstract After the upgraded relationship to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2013, China and Indonesia started to nurture people-to-people diplomacy through various channels. However, instead of improving mutual understanding between peoples from both countries, China’s public diplomacy faced challenges in Indonesia. This thesis aims to explain and investigate the logical reason for China’s PD practices failure in shaping a receptive environment among Indonesians. The thesis identifies the theoretical framework of PD to provide the necessary understanding of the concept, including China’s PD practices in general. ChinaIndonesia bilateral relations is essential to explain the historical background of the dynamics between the two countries. Brief details on Indonesia’s domestic factors, such as political competition, are also instrumental in defining the reason behind anti-Chinese sentiment in Indonesia. China’s PD practices in Indonesia cover Confucius Institutes, scholarships, media diplomacy, and panda diplomacy. This thesis examines problems and challenges of China’s PD based on political agenda of Indonesian elites and China’s bureaucratic and inflexible PD practices in comparison with other countries. Despite the facts that China’s PD practices are essential for nurturing mutual understanding between peoples from both countries, China’s PD practices are too bureaucratic and inflexible to answer the need of more suitable PD practices for the Indonesian public in general. Challenges of China’s PD also come from other countries who are more successful in conducting PD. Selected cases such as Swedish “bus diplomacy” in Jakarta and Japanese cultural diplomacy are among examples on how other countries excel in shaping popular opinions to the Indonesian public. The conclusion reflects that China must make adjustments by adopting more effective approaches in PD to answer the existing challenges and problems. China’s government may synergise its PD practices with business entities operating in Indonesia. Chinese diplomats should be allowed to do more creative contents, including incentivising them with rewards. Those changes are necessary for China to support and maximise Chinese foreign policies in the era of Belt and Road Initiative. Keywords:

Public Diplomacy, Soft Power, China-Indonesia Bilateral Relations II


Contents 摘 要 .......................................................................................................................................... I Abstract ...................................................................................................................................... II Contents .................................................................................................................................... III List of Abbreviations ................................................................................................................. V CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................... 1

1.1 Research Background..................................................................................................... 2 1.2 Research Question .......................................................................................................... 4 1.3 Research Objectives ....................................................................................................... 5 1.4 Research Design ............................................................................................................. 5 1.5 Structure ......................................................................................................................... 7 CHAPTER 2

LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................... 9

2.1 Public Diplomacy ........................................................................................................... 9 2.2 China’s Public Diplomacy ........................................................................................... 10 2.3 Panda Diplomacy ......................................................................................................... 14 CHAPTER 3


COMPETITION IN INDONESIA ........................................................................................... 19 3.1 China-Indonesia Bilateral Relations ............................................................................ 19 3.2 Political Competition in Indonesia ............................................................................... 25 3.2.1 Early Period (1945-1966) ...................................................................................... 26 3.2.2 The New Order Era (1966-1998)........................................................................... 29 3.2.3 Post-New Order Era (1998-Present) ...................................................................... 31 CHAPTER 4

CHINA’S PUBLIC DIPLOMACY IN INDONESIA .................................. 35

4.1 Confucius Institutes in Indonesia ................................................................................. 35 4.2 Education Diplomacy ................................................................................................... 38 4.3 Media Diplomacy: Hi-Indo! TV .................................................................................. 40 4.4 Panda Diplomacy: Hu Chun and Cai Tao .................................................................... 41 CHAPTER 5

CHALLENGES AND PROBLEMS ............................................................ 43

5.1 Domestic Political Competition in Indonesia .............................................................. 46 5.2 Other Countries’ PD Practices in Indonesia................................................................. 48 5.2.1 Swedish Bus Diplomacy in Jakarta ....................................................................... 48 III


5.2.2 Japanese Cultural Diplomacy in Indonesia ........................................................... 51 5.3 Bureaucratic and Inflexible China’s PD Practices ....................................................... 54 CHAPTER 6

CONCLUSION ............................................................................................ 57

Bibliography ............................................................................................................................. 59 Acknowledgement .................................................................................................................... 67 Personal Statement ................................................................................................................... 68 Appendix A

Pictures ......................................................................................................... 69

Resume ..................................................................................................................................... 73


List of Abbreviations

List of Abbreviations ASEAN Baperki

Association of South East Asian Nations Badan Permusjawaratan Kewarganegaraan Indonesia (Consultative Body for Indonesian Citizenship) BRI Belt and Road Initiative CGS Chinese Government Scholarship CI Confucius Institute CPC Communist Party of China CPPCC Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference CSC China Scholarship Council CSP Comprehensive Strategic Partnership FPI Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defender Front) G30S Gerakan 30 September (September 30th Movement) Golkar Golongan Karya (Functional Groups) HTI Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (Indonesian Party of Liberation) ICMI Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim Indonesia (Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals’ Association) MFA Ministry of Foreign Affairs MOE Ministry of Education MoU Memorandum of Understanding MPR Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat (People's Consultative Assembly) MUI Majelis Ulama Indonesia (Indonesian Ulema Council) NGO Nongovernmental Organization NU Nahdlatul Ulama (Revival of Ulama) PBM Pusat Bahasa Mandarin (Mandarin Language Centre) PD Public Diplomacy PDI Partai Demokrasi Indonesia (Indonesian Democratic Party) PDI-P Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle) PKI Partai Komunis Indonesia (Communist Party of Indonesia) PLA People’s Liberation Army PNI Partai Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian National Party) PPP Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (United Development Party) SCS South China Sea SCIO State Council Information Office Supersemar Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret (Order of Eleventh March) TSI Taman Safari Indonesia (Indonesian Safari Park) UAI Universitas al-Azhar Indonesia Wantimpres Dewan Pertimbangan Presiden (Presidential Advisory Board) V


CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION China and Indonesia have upgraded their bilateral relationship to that of “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” (CSP) in 2013. Both countries have shared a commitment to further deepening their cooperation in political trust, economic relations, and cultural exchanges. With the rise of the importance of people-to-people diplomacy in Chinese foreign policy under CSP, public diplomacy (PD) plays a vital role for China to communicate and attract Indonesians to achieve Chinese foreign policy objectives. Therefore, China has maximised all resources required to strengthen and widen the coverage of its public diplomacies. It includes increasing the number of Confucius Institutes

(CI) in Indonesia, broadening media cooperation with Indonesian

counterparts, increasing the number of scholarship awardees from Indonesia, cultural exchanges between young students in both countries, and other such things. Indonesia hosts the second largest number of CI of any country in Southeast Asia after Thailand.① With the presence of six CIs in some universities in Indonesia and two Confucius classrooms to provide Chinese language teachings to students, the country is equipped with better infrastructures to learn Chinese culture and language. Indonesia and China also agreed to continue the annual 100 Youth Exchange Program, enhance practical cooperation in student exchange, promote tourism cooperation, and to further exchanges in media, think-tanks, academic institutions, and religious affairs.② As a result of rapid economic growth in both China and Indonesia, people-topeople contacts increased tremendously in the last ten years. Indonesia is among China’s top five sources of international students, and the number has risen significantly over the past ten years.

China’s outbound tourists to Indonesia outnumbered

Singaporean tourists for the first time in 2016. Multiple media cooperation agreements between Chinese and Indonesian counterparts have been signed to promote mutual understanding in culture, tourism, as well as investment opportunities. ③


① Hanban, Confucius Institute Annual Development Report 2016 (Beijing: Hanban, 2017), 64. ② “Joint Statement on Strengthening Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the People's Republic of China and The Republic of Indonesia”, Belt and Road Portal (April 2017), (accessed December 4, 2017). ③ “2016 niandu woguo lai hua liuxuesheng qingkuang tongji (Statistics of International Students in China in 2016),” Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China (March 2017), _297677.html (accessed December 4, 2017).



examples demonstrate the cooperation in non-trade issues between China and Indonesia based on the CSP framework.


Research Background

Despite the rising numbers of people-to-people contacts between China and Indonesia, the general perception of China in Indonesia is deteriorating. According to the latest global poll survey by the BBC World Service in 2017, there is a drastic increase of negative perception of China among the Indonesian people, where overall opinion has completely reversed since 2014. The Poll has been tracking views about country influence in the world since 2005. The respondents can choose some options, such as “mostly positive,” “mostly negative,” “depends,” “neither/neutral,” “and DK/NA.” The negative perception of China in Indonesia has risen by 22 percentage points to 50 percent, while positive perception has dropped 24 percentage points to 28 percent. ① Another survey titled “Global Indicators Database” by the Pew Research Center in 2017 found that favorability of China among Indonesian public hit the lowest point since 2005 to 55 percent from the previous number of around 60 to 70 percent.② The prevalence of news – fact or hoax – about China’s negative influences in the country, particularly in online platforms, suggests the declining perception of China among the Indonesian public in general.③ Some factors contribute to the declining perception of China in Indonesia, including the Chinese “traditional fishing rights” dispute in the South China Sea (SCS), increased Chinese investments which pose national security challenges, illegal Chinese workers, as well as political competition among Indonesian elites.④ Officially, China ① “Media Release on the Country Rating Poll,” BBC World Service, 2017 (4 July 2017). ② “Global Indicators Database: China Image, Opinion of China: Survey Answers of Respondents in Indonesia,” Pew Research Center, (accessed December 4, 2017). ③ “Dominasi Ekonomi dan Sentimen Anti-Cina Warnai Berita Hoax (Economic domination and anti-China sentiment are overwhelming hoax news),”, January 1, 2017, (accessed December 4, 2017). ④ Wang Hui, “Jakarta must seek common good, not conflict at sea,” China Daily, June 30, 2016, (accessed December 4, 2017); Ben Bland, “Chinese investors hesitate over Indonesia investment,” The Financial Times, June 14, 2017, (accessed December 4, 2017); Eveline Danubrata and Gayatri Suroyo, “In Indonesia, labor friction and politics fan anti-Chinese sentiment,” Reuters, April 18, 2017, (accessed December 4, 2017); Oliver Holmes, “Jakarta's violent identity crisis: behind the vilification of Chinese-Indonesians,” The Guardian, November 25, 2016,



and Indonesia have no maritime dispute in the SCS. Indonesia has no claim over the disputed Spratly Islands (officially known as Nansha Islands in China), and China has no claim over Natuna Islands, the furthermost island in Indonesia bordering the SCS.①

Map 1: Indonesian Interests in the SCS Source: 2017,

Aaron L Connelly, " Indonesia’s new North Natuna Sea: What’s in a name?,” The Interpreter, July 19,


December 27, 2017).

Albeit there is a perceived threat of aggressive Chinese investments in Indonesia, the truth is that China is not even the country with the most significant amount of investment in Indonesia in 2016. According to official data provided by the Investment Coordinating Board of Indonesia, China was the third largest investor in Indonesia after Singapore and Japan regarding the realisation of investment.② The increased number of investments impacts the number of Chinese workers in Indonesia. In 2017, Chinese (accessed December 4, 2017). ① “Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on November 12, 2015,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, November 12, 2015, (accessed December 4, 2017). ② The Investment Coordinating Board of the Republic of Indonesia, “Realisasi Penanaman Modal PMDN – PMA Triwulan IV dan Januari – Desember Tahun 2016 (Realization of Domestic and Foreign Direct Investment Q4 and Januari – December 2016),” (Jakarta: The Investment Coordinating Board of the Republic of Indonesia, 2017), 20.



workers reported to the Ministry of Manpower in Indonesia is 27,211 people, the largest among other foreign workers in Indonesia.① In fact, the percentage of foreign workers in Indonesia in comparison to the country’s total workforce is meagre (0.062 percent), and according to the law, all of them are required to engage in skilled jobs.②

Table 1: Top Five Largest Foreign Investors in Indonesia in 2016 Source: Created by the author based on Realisasi Penanaman Modal PMDN – PMA Triwulan IV dan Januari – Desember Tahun 2016 (Realization of Domestic and Foreign Direct Investment in Q4 and January – December 2016) (The Investment Coordinating Board of the Republic of Indonesia, January 2017)


Total (Percentage)

No. of Projects


$9.2 billion (31.7%)



$5.4 billion (18.6%)



$2.7 billion (9.2%)


Hong Kong, China

$2.2 billion (7.8%)


The Netherlands

$1.5 billion (5.1%)



Research Question

Based on these normative and empirical reasons, the central question for this research is why China’s PD practices cannot satisfy the Indonesian public to create a receptive environment for Chinese in Indonesia? The answer sought, is solely based on China’s PD in Indonesia, including domestic characteristics of Indonesian society. The role of other major countries as rivals of China’s PD practices in Indonesia; and the communication method of China’s PD practices in Indonesia.

① Gumanti Awaliyah, “Jumlah Pekerja Cina di Indonesia Tertinggi (Chinese workers in Indonesia is the largest),” Republika, November 28, 2017, (accessed December 4, 2017). ② Nadya Joy Gozon Ador, “The Real Score On The Number Of Foreigners Working In Indonesia,” Indonesia Expat, January 6, 2017, (accessed December 4, 2017).




Research Objectives

A more in-depth understanding of China’s PD in Indonesia offers a broader scope of information for the branch of studies related to Sino-Indonesian relations. While most of scholars have focused on political, economic or security aspects, PD is still barely mentioned as a diplomatic tool to explain the dynamics of China-Indonesia bilateral relations. As the largest member state of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indonesia posits a strategic counter-balance to China’s assertiveness in the region. Bilateral relations between China and Indonesia were characterised as the history of enmity, and have improved significantly in the last two decades by the effects of stronger economic cooperation between the two countries. At the same time, limited PD assessments have been analysed to fathom the problems and challenges of China’s PD in Indonesia. This study seeks to provide more in-depth analysis related to China’s soft power in Indonesia, considering increasing importance of effective implementation of China’s PD in a strategic partner like Indonesia. The assessments of China’s soft power in Indonesia from this paper provide solutions for Chinese officials and other stakeholders to troubleshooting challenges related to the perception of China in Indonesia, considering the importance of Indonesia as part of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries.① Last but not least, this paper aims to increase mutual understanding between the peoples from both countries, which is very dynamics since the earliest contact in both countries’ historical events.


Research Design

This study is a mainly qualitative study based primarily on at least 90 varied sources, consisting of academic journal articles, official documents, web sources, and relevant reports. All of these qualitative materials, such as journals and archival documents, are primary to determine the actors, strategies, goals, and results of China’s PD in Indonesia. Due to time constraint and challenges to attain responses from China’s PD practitioners both in China and Indonesia, in-depth interviews arranged could not serve as the method to acquire detailed information on China’s PD in Indonesia. ① The term “Martime Silk Road” to promote maritime cooperation was first introduced by President Xi Jinping as part of the speech at the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia on October 3, 2013. Xi, Jinping, The Governance of China (Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 2014), 320.



Surprisingly, after reading related literature for PD in Indonesia, the author found that there is limited number of research papers overtly done to assess China’s PD in Indonesia despite growing number of activities in the last five years. Previous studies of China-Indonesia bilateral relations have focused on trade and security while little emphasis has been given to the PD. The assessments of the recent trend of bilateral trade and political relations between China and Indonesia are positive, such as the establishment of CSP, increasing number of trade, investments, and people-to-people contacts. On the other hand, these factors are still unable to provide a clearer picture of bilateral relations, particularly in response to the deteriorated perception of China among Indonesians and the rise of anti-China sentiment. Two variables have been selected: Indonesia’s receptive environment to China’s interests in Indonesia. The independent variables selected is China’s PD practices in Indonesia and Indonesian internal factors. China’s PD practices cover CIs in Indonesia, education diplomacy, media diplomacy, and panda diplomacy. From the Indonesian internal factors, selected variables include political competition among Indonesian elite and history of anti-Chinese sentiment in the country. The hypotheses to be tested: Hypothesis 1 (H1): Political competition among Indonesian elites impacts Indonesian public perception of China. Hypothesis 2 (H2): China’s bureaucratic and outdated PD practices in Indonesia hamper the effectiveness of influencing Indonesian public. The receptive environment can be mainly traced through public perception of China in Indonesia in various publications. News reports and selected government policies which were launched to reduce the benefits from China are also instrumental to the research. Due to time constraint, the author does not conduct a quantitative approach to determine the relationship between selected dependent variables on Indonesia’s receptive environment on China’s interests in Indonesia. Bureaucratic and outdated PD practices include the bureaucratic style of PD with limited creative approaches conducted by China’s diplomatic officials in Indonesia. The 6


H2 claims that China’s PD practices in Indonesia are mainly ceremonial to fulfil the need of formal agreements such as the CSP. Those practices are conducted without clear assessments and communication efforts to counter negative stereotypes inherently associated with China and its derivatives. At the same time, China’s PD practices in Indonesia are also opaque in comparison with more professionally tailored PD practices from other countries. This paper includes Swedish “bus diplomacy” in Jakarta and Japanese cultural diplomacy in Indonesia as a comparison.



This thesis is arranged in the following way: First, Chapter one includes the research background, research question, research objectives, research design, and structure of the thesis. In the next chapter, this paper presents literature review as the theoretical framework of PD. The existing literature related to China’s PD focuses on the institutions and structures of PD in the Chinese context. The author also provides brief summaries of the Chinese state and non-state actors of PD which serve as the foundation to understand China’s PD practices in Indonesia. The general concept of panda diplomacy is also included in this part. The third chapter provides the general overview Indonesia. It includes the historical background of China-Indonesia bilateral relations, including the dynamics of the relations between the two countries. Domestic political factors in Indonesia is included to provide a better depiction of the political structures in the country, mainly to understand the reason behind anti-Chinese sentiment in Indonesia. The fourth chapter is the description of China’s PD practices in Indonesia. The author divided the PD practices into four different categories: CIs in Indonesia, education diplomacy, media diplomacy, and panda diplomacy. In this chapter, the author explains the history of CIs in Indonesia and the purpose of the establishment of CI. Education diplomacy provides detailed information on scholarship programme awarded by China’s government to Indonesians. On media diplomacy, this thesis includes Hi-Indo! TV, a 24-hour tv broadcaster launched by the China’s government with an Indonesian partner to broadcast Chinese cultural products. The panda diplomacy between China and Indonesia is also instrumental in this chapter to describe Chinese PD in Indonesia. The fifth chapter is the analysis of hypotheses through the selected cases. By tracing the historical context of political competition in Indonesia and China’s PD 7


framework in general, Chinese PD challenges in Indonesia provide three different units of analysis. The first part discusses the domestic factors, particularly the political elite in shaping nationalism and projecting China as a threat to the country. In that sense, a receptive environment for China would be hardly achieved just through PD practices mentioned in the previous chapter. However, two different units are also instrumental in explaining the puzzle. Other countries’ PD practices in Indonesia, such as Swedish bus diplomacy in Jakarta and Japanese cultural diplomacy are selected to compare with Chinese bureaucratic and inflexible PD practices. The sixth chapter in this paper is the conclusion with suggestions for Chinese PD practices in Indonesia that the author deemed necessary, mainly to nurture better understanding between peoples from both countries. In the last five years, China has been more proactively approaching foreign countries through BRI. Effective PD is a better diplomatic tool which is essential to spread China’s foreign policies. Improvements are necessary to combat challenges among the foreign audience, particularly in Indonesia where bilateral relations with China have been elevated into a higher level in the BRI era.




CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Previous studies related to China’s PD provide a wealth of information to analyse China’s PD practices in Indonesia. For this research, the author limits the literature review to the theoretical framework of PD, including a brief description of China’s PD practices and panda diplomacy.


Public Diplomacy

The PD is a concept with various interpretations. This paper does not intend to explain an extensive overview of the theoretical framework of PD, but it concentrates on relevant propositions that try to explain the rationale of China’s PD. The earliest use of term “public diplomacy” has been traced back to 1856 from a piece published in the London Times. The term was used as the decency to criticise the attitude of President Franklin Pierce. The Times opined that American political leaders had to retrospect if they wanted to make a certain impression on the British. They needed “to set an example for their people, and there are few examples so catching as those of public diplomacy.”① The use of “public diplomacy” evolved since then to the universally recognised term of PD coined by Edmund Gullion following the establishment of an Edward R. Murrow Center of Public Diplomacy in 1965. According to the summary of Gullion’s concept, PD interacts with the influence of public attitudes on the formation and execution of foreign policies. Unlike traditional diplomacy which covers government-to-government relations, PD encompasses wider dimensions. Those dimensions cover developing a good public opinion of the government in other countries; corresponding with various non-state actors and interests from one country to another; informing foreign policies, their impacts and the proper means of communication








communications.② The evolution of PD has attracted a significant amount of research following the rise of non-state actors; such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the private ① Nicholas Cull, “Public Diplomacy before Gullion: The Evolution of a Phrase,”in Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy, ed. Nancy Snow and Philip M. Taylor (New York: Routledge, 2009), 19. ② Ibid.




sector in the era of globalisation. A new network model of PD eases the monopoly that foreign ministries have on diplomacy. ① This model requires cooperative strategies among multiple stakeholders who are regarded as partners or producers of the diplomatic outcome, to have two-way affair and dialogues in engaging publics. Revolution in information and communication technologies helps facilitate the processes of PD, whereby people of one country can enter into direct relations with people from another country.②


China’s Public Diplomacy

Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China has realised the importance of good image and good foreign press. Before the term PD was widely used in the world, China adopted “external propaganda” (duiwai xuanchuan) as an effort to create a favourable image of the country abroad. China’s government gradually replaced the term “propaganda” with the concept of PD (gonggong waijiao) and soft power (ruan shili) in the early 1990s. These terms have been widely accepted among Chinese officials since 2006. Prior the establishment of Public Diplomacy Office in 2009, external propaganda’s primary function is spreading ideas and news by the mass media, without paying attention to the public acceptance or effectiveness of the messages abroad. China emphasised the importance of people in foreign affairs based on “people-to-people diplomacy” (minjian waijiao). The absence of the differentiation between foreign affairs and diplomacy in Chinese context leads to strict control of foreign affairs without freedom to the government agencies. Therefore, the so-called “people-to-people diplomacy” in the Chinese context is different with the general Western concept of PD, even for those activities backed by NGOs. It is more like a special configuration of traditional government-to-government diplomacy or semi-official channels.③ With the long history of Chinese culture, it may serve as the most valuable source of soft power for China. Wang Huning, the then advisor to President Jiang Zemin, suggested culture as the main source of one country’s soft power.④ People may learn ① Jan Melissen, “The New Public Diplomacy: Between Theory and Practice,” in The New Public Diplomacy Soft Power in International Relations, ed. Jan Melissen (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 5. ② Paul Sharp, Diplomatic Theory of International Relations (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 268. ③ Zhao Kejin, “Public Diplomacy, Rising Power, and China’s Strategy in East Asia,” in Understanding Public Diplomacy in East Asia, ed. Jan Melissen and Yul Sohn (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 56. ④ Mingjiang Li, “Soft Power in Chinese Discourse: Popularity and Prospect,” in Soft Power China’s Emerging




values in traditional Chinese culture in ancient thoughts such as Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Another scholar from China, Mingjiang Li, points out that good values produced on classical writings, such as virtues, benevolent governance, peace and harmony, and harmony without suppressing differences. Chinese academics believe that in an era of cultural diversification and globalisation, traditional Chinese cultural values with “harmony” at the core are the basis of Chinese cultural appeal.① In the field of PD actors, a well-known PD scholar Ingrid d’ Hooghe classifies state actors in China’s PD into at least seven categories. Even though China’s political system is highly centralised, some actors may not collaborate with others.

Figure 1: State Actors in China’s Public Diplomacy Source: Created by the author based on Ingrid d’Hooghe, China’s Public Diplomacy (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2015), 133-154.

Strategy in International Politics, ed. Mingjiang Li (Plymouth, UK: Lexington Books, 2009), 25. ① Ibid.




State Council Information Office (SCIO) has played an essential role in China’s PD since its establishment in 1991. It develops PD guidelines and instruments, monitors foreign media, and guides and censors domestic media, including the internet. SCIO also monitors and evaluates foreign media reports on China, including opinion polls of China’s development or particular Chinese policies. China’s government officials argue that while it will be challenging to change ideological bias from the West, China can work through various conduits, such as interaction with foreign correspondents in China, cooperation with international public relation firms, and exchanges with scholars, to create a more actual and friendly public opinion.① Ministries are the main official state actors of China’s PD. Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) as a traditional state actor of China’s PD increased attention for PD such as engaging the public and media. It is even more evident in the activities of its diplomats abroad. Over the past decade, the MFA has invested much in the professionalisation and rejuvenation of its diplomats, which have resulted in the increased effectiveness, sophistication, and motivation of officials working at the MFA and China’s representatives abroad. Ministry of Education (MOE) supervises education diplomacy and cultural diplomacy. The establishment of the CI and the Confucius Classroom in 2004 are conduits to promote Chinese language and culture abroad. Non-state actors are equally crucial in channelling China’s PD abroad. Among the most notable cases was the “Ping Pong Diplomacy” between players from the U.S. and China in 1971, which led to the establishment of diplomatic missions – particularly from the West – with China. Hooghe classifies at least seven non-state actors in the context of China’s PD:

① Ingrid d’Hooghe, China’s Public Diplomacy (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2015), 137.




Figure 2: Non-state Actors in China’s Public Diplomacy

Source: Created by the author based on Ingrid d’Hooghe, China’s Public Diplomacy (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2015), 154-162.

China’s government urged Chinese companies to play a more prominent role in PD. As CPPCC spokesman Zhao Qizheng observes, Chinese companies still need to learn more in PD, as they lack in-depth knowledge about international markets, practices and rules, and they are not proficient at conducting PD with the local communities. ① Chinese companies need to take their publicity work not only for the enterprise’s reputation but also China’s international image and soft power. In more practical terms, Chinese enterprises should be able to gain the respect of foreigners such as abiding by local laws, participating in social welfare projects, improving cooperation with foreign media, and increase the release of information. ① Ibid., 159.




Related to the demographics of Indonesia where Overseas Chinese form a sizable number, the role of Chinese diaspora is noteworthy to be analysed. Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia can serve as a soft power resource for China in the region. With the estimated 40 million overseas Chinese living in Southeast Asia, including some seven million in Indonesia, China “relies on the strength of its overseas population to help promote its cause.” Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia have a strong ethnic identity which provides a strong platform for China to promote Chinese culture. The role of special institutions such as Overseas Chinese Affairs Office in handling overseas Chinese, including those who are second- or third-generation migrants, is considered as an example of the nature of Chinese identity through the function of an “imagined community.”①


Panda Diplomacy

China adopts exotic animals as diplomatic gifts as a method of diplomacy between China and its strategic partners. China’s government has been using panda as the tool of diplomacy since the ancient times. The earliest panda diplomacy recorded in the post1949 era was limited to Communist allies, such as in 1957 and 1959 to the Soviet Union, followed by North Korea in 1965. ② After China opened the communication channel with the United States in 1972, both governments also adopted the animal exchange as a method of diplomacy. At the time of American President Richard Nixon’s visit to China to meet Mao Zedong, China presented giant pandas as gifts to the U.S., exchanged with American musk oxen. Giving exotic animals as diplomatic gifts got public outcry in the 1970s, particularly among environmental and animal rights activists.③ As the response from China, panda diplomacy changed from a gift into a loan programme in 1984. The conservation of the endangered pandas was getting more serious attention by sending a pair of pandas for the sake of regeneration, requiring fees for raising the pandas, as well as standardised infrastructures for the pandas at the zoos from host countries. The ① Michael Barr, Who's Afraid of China? The Challenge of Chinese Soft Power (London and New York: Zed Books, 2011), 83. ② Huaxia, “Backgrounder: Why giant pandas around world have to return to China?” Xinhuanet, February 23, 2017, (accessed December 27, 2017). ③ Falk Hartig, “Panda Diplomacy: The Cutest Part of China’s Public Diplomacy.” in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, ed. Jan Melissen and Paul Sharp (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2013), 61.




standard loan terms of a panda couple are US$1 million per year, and the applied conditions are valid on ten-year or 15-year loans. After the reform and opening up, China’s government continued panda diplomacy with strategic trading partners. Most of the panda receiving countries are developed countries. It is understandable since keeping pandas requires sophisticated technology as well as a long-term commitment to the relationship between China and the host country. Panda arrival ceremony usually involves high-ranking officials from both countries.

Table 1: List of Pandas Living Outside Greater China since 1972 Source: Created by the author based on various sources listed in footnotes. Note: The list excludes Taiwan and Hong Kong SAR Country Australia



Canada④ Finland⑤



Wang Wang and Fu Ni


Yang Yang and Long Hui


Fu Feng and Fu Ban (born in Austria)


Wan Wan and Xi Xi


Xin Hui and Hao Hao


Tian Bao (born in Belgium)


Da Mao and Er Shun


Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue (both born in Canada)


Hua Bao and Jin Baobao (renamed to Pyry and Lumi)


① “Giant Panda,” Adelaide Zoo, n.d., (accessed on December 27, 2017). ② Mark Brownlow, “The Giant Panda,” Visiting Vienna, December 9, 2016, (accessed December 27, 2017) and “Twin panda cubs at Vienna Zoo go exploring in first outdoor outing,” Reuters, February 28, 2017, (accessed December 27, 2017). ③Jeroen Jacobs, “Belgium & China Sign Historical Panda Agreement,”, September 13, 2013, (accessed December 27, 2017) and “China panda diplomacy sparks Belgium row,” BBC, September 11, 2013, (accessed December 27, 2017). ④ Da Mao, Er Shun, Jia Panpan, and Jia Yueyue were transferred from Toronto Zoo to Calgary Zoo on March 18, 2018. “Giant Panda Experience is now closed,” Toronto Zoo, n.d., (accessed March 27, 2018). ⑤ Aleksi Teivainen, “Pair of giant pandas arrive from China to Finland,” Helsinki Times, January 20, 2018, (accessed March 27, 2018).




Germany② Indonesia⑤




Yuan Zi and Huan Huan


Yuan Meng (born in France)


Bao Bao and Tjen Tjen③


Yan Yan④


Meng Meng and Jiao Qing


Cai Tao and Hu Chun


Kan Kan and Ran Ran


Tong Tong (born in Japan)


You You (born in Japan)


Ling Ling


Shuan Shuan


Ri Ri and Shin Shin


Xiang Xiang (born in Japan)


Liang Liang and Xing Xing


Nuan Nuan (born in Malaysia, returned to China at the age of two)



Pe Pe and Ying Ying


Xiu Hua (born in Mexico)


Shuan Shuan (born in Mexico)


Xin Xin (born in Mexico)


“France's Giant Panda Cub Shows His Playful Side,” ZooBorns, January 7, 2018, (accessed March 27, 2018). ② “Male giant panda, Bao Bao, dies at Berlin zoo,” BBC, August 22, 2012, (accessed March 27, 2018) and “Pandas begin new life in Germany as the stars of Berlin Zoo,” DW, June 24, 2017, (accessed March 27 2018). ③ Tjen Tjen died in 1984. ④ A female panda to replace Tjen Tjen. ⑤Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, “Two giant pandas arrive in Indonesia,” The Jakarta Post, September 28, 2017, (accessed March 27, 2018). ⑥ “Ueno Zoo braces for 1st giant panda cub frenzy in 29 years,” Asahi Shimbun, December 19, 2017, (accessed March 27, 2018) and Alex Martin, “The public has spoken: Xiang Xiang is the name of Ueno Zoo’s newest star,” Japan Times, September 25, 2017, (accessed March 27, 2018). ⑦ Esther Landau, “Second panda cub born at Zoo Negara ,” New Straits Times, January 18, 2018, (accessed March 27, 2018). ⑧ “Chapultec Zoo,”, n.d., (accessed March 27, 2018). ①



The Netherlands① Singapore② South Korea③


Xing Ya and Wu Wen


Kai Kai and Jia Jia


Ming Ming and Li Li


Yuan Xin and Hua Ni

2016 2007



United Kingdom⑥

Bing Xing and Hua Zuiba

(extended to 2023)

Chulina (born in Spain)


Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui


Lin Bing (born in Thailand)


Chia Chia and Ching Ching


Bao Bao and Ming Ming


Yang Guang and Tian Tian


National Zoo United States⑦

Hsing Hsing and Ling Ling


San Diego Zoo

① “Giant Pandas Arrive in the Netherlands on 12 April,” Ouwehands Dierenpark, July 27, 2017, (accessed March 27, 2018). ② Xinhua, “Chinese pandas head for Singapore on loan,” China Daily, September 5, 2012, (accessed March 27, 2018). ③ Huang Zhiling, “Loaned panda pair finds new home in Seoul,” China Daily, March 3, 2016, (accessed March 27, 2018). ④ Huang Zhiling, “Panda pair leave Shanghai for Spain,” China Daily, September 8, 2007 (accessed March 27, 2018) and Xinhua, “China, Spain extend giant panda loan agreement,” Xinhuanet, February 24, 2018, (accessed March 27, 2018). ⑤ “Pandas Around the Globe,” Pandas International, n.d., (accessed March 27, 2018). ⑥ Brynn Holland, “Panda Diplomacy: The World’s Cutest Ambassadors,” History, March 19, 2017, (accessed March 27, 2018) and “Tian Tian and Yang Guang the giant pandas land in Scotland,” Telegraph, December 4, 2011, (accessed Marc h 27, 2018). ⑦ China and the U.S. have exchanged numerous pandas, the highest number among other countries in the world. This paper focuses only to pandas which were exchanged during Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 and are currently kept in various U.S. zoos. “Pandas in the United States,” Pandas International, n.d., (accessed March 27, 2018) and John M. Broder, “Hsing-Hsing the Panda, A Gift From Mao, Dies,” New York Times, November 29, 1999, (accessed March 27, 2018).




Bai Yun and Gao Gao


Xiao Liwu (born in the U.S.)


Zoo Atlanta Lun Lun and Yang Yang


Mei Lun and Mei Huan (born in the U.S.)


Memphis Zoo Ya Ya and Le Le


Smithsonian National Zoo Mei Xiang and Tian Tian


Bao Bao (born in the U.S.)


At the time of writing, a total of 18 countries in the world have received pandas from China. Most of the receiving countries are located in Western Europe, and the U.S. is a receiving country with most number of pandas. In the Asia Pacific, six pandareceiving nations are among the most significant trading partners with China and economically affluent than the others. Indonesia has received pandas from China in 2017 following the strengthening of bilateral relations between the two countries. It is also important to note that some strategic partners of China, such as Russia and Pakistan have not yet received giant panda. Panda diplomacy serves as one of best components in China’s PD to promote its soft power, particularly to some strategic trading partners. The universal recognition of panda cuteness becomes China’s diplomatic tool to improve its image abroad.



CHAPTER 3 CHINA-INDONESIA RELATIONS AND POLITICAL COMPETITION IN INDONESIA This chapter provides a general overview of Indonesia’s bilateral relations with China and political competition in Indonesia to understand the unit analyses in this study. The author divides each section into several timelines related to the political dynamics in Indonesia.


China-Indonesia Bilateral Relations

China and Indonesia established formal bilateral relationship since 1950. Indonesia was among the first Asian countries to recognise the People’s Republic of China. The fact that Indonesia recognised China in 1950 did not translate into a smooth relationship between the two countries. Bilateral relations were “fragile, replete with problems, and subject to various upheavals” and also “vulnerable to pressure from anti-communist forces in Indonesia.” ① Both China and Indonesia had enjoyed brief close relations, mainly caused by left-leaning Indonesian President Sukarno’s critical stance to the West in the early 1960s known as the “Guided Democracy” era. China and Indonesia headed toward an era of harmony following the 1955 Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung, West Java. Both countries signed the Sino-Indonesian Dual Nationality Treaty on the issue of nationality of Chinese-Indonesians. ② People-to-people contacts between China and Indonesia were once strong mainly channelled through Communist Party of Indonesia (Partai Komunis Indonesia or PKI) and its wings, including Chinese-Indonesians and their association with left-leaning Consultative Body for Indonesian Citizenship (Badan Permusjawaratan Kewarganegaraan Indonesia or Baperki). At the same time, China also defended the legal and economic status of Chinese-Indonesians following the ban of Chinese traders in rural areas of Indonesia by December 1959. China protested the Indonesian government for the discriminatory policy, and this became a serious source of conflict between China and Indonesia. Anti-communist elements in Indonesia, particularly the army and Islamists, blamed China as an interventionist foreign power and tried to use Chinese-Indonesians to exert its influence over Indonesia.③ ① Rizal Sukma, Indonesia and China: The Politics of a Troubled Relationship (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), 17. ② David Mozingo, Chinese Policy Toward Indonesia 1949-1967 (Singapore: Equinox Publishing, 2007), 116-117. ③ Ibid., 161.



The close relation between China and Indonesia harmed after Indonesia hit by a failed coup d’etat initiated by left-wing military soldiers in 1965, formally known as the September 30th Movement (Gerakan 30 September or G30S). The coup targeted rightwing anti-communist Indonesian Army generals included in the list of Council of Generals (Dewan Jenderal). The rumour was that the Council of Generals’ intention to stage a coup against the ailing President Sukarno. The deep hostility between the army and PKI triggered dilemma between the two. To avoid the coup, a group of left-leaning Resimen Tjakrabirawa, the presidential guard, kidnapped and assassinated the listed six of the right-wing generals on the Council of Generals. The coup attempt by the group, known as Revolutionary Council (Dewan Revolusi), was successfully aborted by the army just a day after.① Following the failure of G30S, the Indonesian Army blamed PKI for the misadventure. The army conducted state terrorism on PKI members and sympathisers. The army, supported by anti-PKI elements, killed most of the party members and tortured some of the sympathisers without justice. Considering the intimate relation between PKI and China at that time, the Indonesian Army also blamed China for their involvement in the coup to spread communism in the country. Bilateral relations between China and Indonesia hit the lowest point and led to the “frozen” relation in 1967. It also impacted Chinese-Indonesians, who was targetted as “agents of foreign communists” in Indonesia. ② Chinese language education and cultural display were prohibited and restricted to family circle following the anti-communist purge. The perception of the threat of communism and the suspension of diplomatic relations with China provided leeway for Soeharto to justify the regime, popularly known as New Order (Orde Baru). Indonesia under New Order was friendly with Western countries and Japan. The regime attracted foreign capitals from developed countries to rebuild the economic collapse under Sukarno’s anti-Western movement. For that reason, the logic of severing ties with the People’s Republic of China was deemed as insignificant to impact the Indonesian economy, considering of China’s weak economy and negligible role in

① Antonie C.A. Dake, The Sukarno File, 1965–1967 (Leiden: Brill, 2006), 115. ② Rizal Sukma, Indonesia and China, 57.



international trade at that time.① At the same time, China’s ideological aggressiveness posed a threat to national security.② Bilateral relations between China and Indonesia informally resumed following China’s reform and opening up in 1978. Despite being cautious with communist threat, Soeharto’s regime started to open communication with China through trade. In July 1985, the direct trade link between China and Indonesia resumed after the signature of MoU between Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (Kamar Dagang dan Industri Indonesia or KADIN) and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) in Singapore. ③ Five years later, the “frozen” bilateral relations officially resumed after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on August 8, 1990, by the foreign ministers of both countries in Jakarta. Among the points signed was non-interference of domestic issues, an essential requirement for the Soeharto’s regime to resume diplomatic relations with China.④ Bilateral relations between the two countries gained momentum when Soeharto’s regime was toppled by pro-democracy supporters in 1998, following the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The first elected Indonesian president after New Order era, Abdurrahman Wahid, visited China as his first overseas trip since assuming office. His visit to China was an effort to gain political and economic support from China for solving economic problem in Indonesia, particularly after the departure of affluent Chinese-Indonesians abroad and significant capital flight following the 1998 May riot.⑤ He also ended the ban on the display of Chinese culture in public, and the presence of Chinese language courses and mass media increased rapidly.⑥ Trade relations between China and Indonesia also proliferated, particularly in energy sector. Both countries signed a liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade contract in 2002 with a total value of US$8.4 billion from Tangguh LNG plant in Papua to supply

① Ibid., 61. ② Dewi Fortuna Anwar, “Indonesia's Relations with China and Japan: Images, Perception and Realities,” Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol. 12, No. 3 (December 1990), 234. ③ Rizal Sukma, Indonesia and China, 134. ④ Ibid., 119. ⑤ Leo Suryadinata, “Beijing’s Policy and Southeast Asian Chinese Investment in Mainland China,” in The Vitality of China and the Chinese, ed. Armand Clesse, Mingqi Xu (Shanghai: Rozenberg Publishers, 2004), 139. ⑥ Ignatius Wibowo, "China's Soft Power and Neoliberal Agenda in Southeast Asia," in Soft Power: China's Emerging Strategy in International Politics, ed. Mengjiang Li (Plymouth: Lexington Books, 2009), 215.



2.5 million tonnes per year of LNG to Fujian province for 25 years.① The contract was deemed as unfair due to the price abnormality following the desperate socio-economic condition of Indonesia. The price set for the deal was below the international market without transparency from both sides, and it took 12 years for both countries to recalculate the deal according to the market price.②

Table 1: Total Trade between Indonesia and China in 2006, 2010, and 2017 Source: Created by the author based on Indonesia – China Trade Relations: The deepening of economic integration amid uncertainty? (Alexander C. Chandra and Lucky A. Lontoh, 2011) and Balance of Trade With Trade Partner Country,


March 27, 2018). Note: Unit in USD billion Description




Total Trade




Oil and Gas




Non-Oil and Gas




Export to China




Oil and Gas




Non-Oil and Gas




Import from China




Oil and Gas




Non-Oil and Gas




Indonesia’s Trade Balance with China




Oil and Gas




Non-Oil and Gas




① Muhammad Badaruddin, “Indonesia-China Energy Trade: Analyzing Global and Domestic Political Economic Significance in Indonesia-China LNG Trade,” Journal of ASEAN Studies 1 (2013), 27. ② Anggi Oktarinda, “LNG TANGGUH: RI dan China Sepakati Perhitungan Harga (LNG TANGGUH: RI and Indonesia agreed the price recalculation),”, June 30, 2014, (accessed March 27, 2018).



As the response of increased trade between both countries, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a strategic partnership agreement in 2005 in Jakarta after attending the Golden Jubilee Commemoration of the 1955 Asian-African Conference. The deal covers on eight areas: visa exemption for diplomatic and public service visits, maritime co-operation, infrastructure and natural resources, economic and technological assistance, finance, preferential buyer's credit, and also earthquake and tsunami relief.①

16,000 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 Indonesia

6,000 4,000 2,000 0 Indonesia









Figure 1: Number of Indonesian international students in China Source: Created by author based on “2005/2006/2015/2016 niandu woguo lai hua liuxuesheng qingkuang tongji (Statistics of International Students in China in 2005/2006/2015/2016)”, Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China, (2005) (accessed December 4, 2017); (2006) (accessed December 4, 2017), (2015) (accessed December 4, 2017), 97677.html (2016) (accessed December 4, 2017).

China-Indonesia bilateral relations were further enhanced as China became the tremendous rising power in Asia and significantly moved toward broadening bilateral ties. In 2013, both countries elevated their cooperation status from strategic partnership ①

Qin Jize, “Indonesia is now a strategic partner,” China Daily, April 25, (accessed March 27, 2018).




to CSP. Simultaneously, the number of people-to-people contacts between China and Indonesia increased tremendously, particularly in the field of tourism and education. As Figure 1 shows, the number of international students in China rose rapidly from about 4,000 people in 2005 to 14,714 people in 2016. Cooperation in the tourism sector is also 700,000

600,000 500,000

400,000 Indonesia


200,000 100,000



Indonesia 132,800











rising following the enormous increase of the wealth of the peoples in both countries.

Figure 2: Number of inbound visits made by Indonesian tourists to China Source:











2016, (accessed December 4, 2017).

Data from Figure 2 also shows that Indonesian tourists to China increased rapidly since the 2000s. Interestingly, the figure also shows that despite China and Indonesia have signed the CSP in 2013, Indonesian tourists to China continued to decline from 2010 to 2015. On the Chinese side, the visitors to Indonesia have continuously been increasing from a meagre number of 16,266 tourists in 2000 to 1,556,771 tourists in 2016. China has been replaced Singapore and Australia as the most important sources of international tourist to Indonesia.



1,800,000 1,600,000 1,400,000 1,200,000 1,000,000 800,000


600,000 400,000 200,000 0 Indonesia









1,249,091 1,556,771

Figure 3: Number of outbound Chinese tourists to Indonesia

Source: Created by the author based on Wisatawan Mancanegara yang Datang ke Indonesia Menurut Kebangsaan, 2000-2016







2000-2016), (accessed December 4, 2017).


Political Competition in Indonesia

Indonesia is an archipelagic multinational state in Southeast Asia consists of more than 17,000 islands. With a total area of 1.9 million sq-km, Indonesia consists more than 300 ethnic groups with about 700 different languages and dialects. Indonesia was also world’s 4th most populous country with a total population of 237 million according to the latest population census in 2010. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-majority country in the world with 88 percent of its population believe in Islam while the rest of people believe in other five recognised state religions, such as Protestantism, Roman Catholic, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. More than half of its population live on Java island, the most developed island located in the western part of the country. The island of Java is also home to Javanese people, which is also the largest ethnic group in Indonesia comprising 40.2 percent of the total population. The official census also



shows that there are 2.8 million Chinese-Indonesians in Indonesia, consisting of 1.2 percent of the total population.①

Table 2: Population of Indonesia by Ethnic Group in 2010 Source: Created by the author based on Fertilitas Menurut Etnis di Indonesia: Analisis Data Sensus Penduduk 2010 (Fertility by Ethnicity in Indonesia: Analysis of 2010 Indonesian Population Census) (Mugia Bayu Rahardja, 2017)

Ethnic Group

Total (in a million)

















3.2.1 Early Period (1945-1966) For this research, the author skipped the history description prior the colonial period, when various Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms had flourished in the archipelago. It is known that the formation of the modern geography of Indonesia started since the colonial era of Dutch East Indies which had ruled the archipelago for about three centuries.② The Dutch colonial power was interrupted following Japanese invasion in 1942. The attack was a boon for Indonesian nationalists, who were struggling for independence from the Dutch since the early 20th century. Despite the existence of Japanese military heinous crimes in the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies, Indonesian nationalists still collaborated with the Japanese for their interests, particularly the establishment of military training and weapons for Indonesians by the Japanese military.③ At the same time, the Japanese showed sympathy for Islam, and it

① Mugia Bayu Raharja, "Fertilitas Menurut Etnis di Indonesia: Analisis Data Sensus Penduduk 2010 (Fertility by Ethnicity in Indonesia: Analysis of 2010 Indonesian Population Census)," Jurnal Kependudukan Indonesia Vol. 12 No. 1, 2017, 73. ② The first European settlers in the archipelago were the Portuguese and replaced by the Dutch trading company Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) gradually since 1602. Following the bankruptcy of VOC in 1799, the archipelago was briefly ruled by the French and British before the government of the Netherlands fully controlled Dutch East Indies in 1816. ③ Herbert Feith, The Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia (Singapore: Equinox Publishing, 2007), 7.



successfully made Indonesians looked up and respect Japan.① After Japan surrendered to the Allies in 1945, nationalists under the leadership of Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta announced the independence of Indonesia on August 17th, 1945. The Dutch, with the assistance of British troops from its colonies in British India, tried to reestablish its colonial administration in the archipelago. Indonesian nationalists fought back the Dutch with both diplomatic struggles and armed conflicts, thanks to sufficient military weapons inherited by the Japanese. Indonesia won the national revolutionary movement subsequently through Dutch-Indonesian Round Table Conference in 1949. After Indonesia gained full independence, the domestic political constellation divided into three major groups, Nationalists, Islamists, and Communists (PKI). At the same time, the army had a strong influence and control over the country due to its essential role in the Indonesian national revolutionary movement in 1945-1949. The army and PKI had deep enmity and rivalry following the 1948 Madiun Affair, in which PKI tried to establish a communist rebellion against the Indonesian government under Sukarno-Hatta administration.② Despite the failed rebellion in 1948, PKI still gained popular supports among rural people in Java, including Chinese-Indonesians who suffered social discrimination in a newly independent Indonesia. In the 1955 general election, PKI came at the fourth which got 39 seats in the parliament with 16 percent of the vote, behind Indonesian National Party (Partai Nasional Indonesia or PNI) and two Islamic political parties, Consultative Council of Indonesian Muslims (Partai Majelis Syuro Muslimin Indonesia or Masjumi) and Revival of Ulama (Nahdlatul Ulama or NU). The pendulum swings to the PKI when Sukarno, as the Indonesian president, declared a presidential decree on July 5, 1959, to dissolve the Constituent Assembly and marked the era of “Guided Democracy.” Under guided democracy, Sukarno acted as the supreme commander of the country with absolute power. Sukarno’s leadership stood among the so-called triumvirate of power, where the army and PKI were in a dominant position to influence Sukarno’s leadership and policies. At the same time, Indonesia’s foreign relations with the West – particularly the U.S. and Britain – deteriorated as the result of Indonesia’s critical stance on imperialism. To compensate the economic isolation, Sukarno sought financial and ① M.A. Aziz, Japan’s Colonialism and Indonesia (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1955), 147. ② Herbert Feith, The Decline, 11.



military assistance from the communist bloc, notably the Soviet Union and China. Bilateral relations with China hit new high due to similarities of communist ideas between Beijing and PKI. Under the leadership of Dipa Nusantara Aidit, PKI followed the communist model from Beijing and criticised Soviet revisionism. Sukarno also admired Chinese development model at that time and finally proclaimed the PekingJakarta axis in 1965 to strengthen their bilateral relations. The radical foreign policy of Sukarno and PKI’s stronger influence domestically triggered dilemma among PKI’s rivals, such as the army and Islamists. The irreparable rift between PKI and the army, especially high-ranking generals, added the challenge for both sides to prepare survival strategy after the Sukarno’s demise. The dilemma started to gain momentum when Sukarno’s health deteriorated and was declared critical due to kidney ailment in August 1965. PKI was worried if Sukarno’s death would lead to the dissolution of PKI by the army, considering the ban of PKI activities in Armycontrolled provinces of South Sumatera, South Kalimantan, and South Sulawesi since 1960. The dilemma further escalated after the discovery of a letter written by Andrew Gilchrist, British Ambassador to Indonesia, known as the Gilchrist letter. In the letter, Gilchrist allegedly listed names of anti-communist generals (known as Council of Generals) who was preparing a coup against Sukarno. As mentioned earlier, left-leaning Tjakrabirawa (Sukarno’s private guards) led by Colonel Untung Syamsuri led the G30S by kidnapped and killed six of listed generals in Council of Generals. The G30S was momentum for the army and Islamists to get rid the Communists. Following the failure of the G30S, the army blamed PKI for the coup although PKI claimed it was innocent and the coup was an internal problem of the army. Sukarno, pressed by the army due the social chaos following the G30S, signed a decree known as Order of Eleventh March (Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret or Supersemar) on March 11, 1966 to give full authority to army commander General Soeharto to maintain law and order. The army, supported by Islamists, crushed the Communists systematically from 1965 to 1968.① The army at Soeharto’s behest outlawed PKI in 1966, they also jailed, tortured, and killed its members and sympathisers without justice. The sense of terror was designed to remove communist elements in Indonesia. At the same time, Sukarno was impeached in 1967 and put under house arrest until his death in 1970. Soeharto, a ① Rizal Sukma, Islam in Indonesian Foreign Policy (London: Routledge, 2003), 43.



high-ranking general in the army who was in charge of the government since March 1966,

was elected as the successor of Sukarno by the army-controlled People’s

Consultative Assembly (MPR) with the absence of the Communist element in the country.

3.2.2 The New Order Era (1966-1998) The army took charge of the administration of the country under the “dualfunction” doctrine, from ministerial posts, strategic state-owned enterprises to small office jobs. Soeharto gained political legitimacy through quinquennial elections from 1971 to 1997. His pseudo-political party, Functional Groups (Golongan Karya or Golkar), got the highest votes in every election due to heavy-manipulated and extensive deal-making in following and before the voting day. On the other hand, Islamists took a peripheral role in the New Order albeit their alliance to get rid the communist in 19651968. The reason was mainly that of the army’s distrust of Islamists per se as a potential threat to the country, bearing in mind that Islamists had involved in several regional revolts against the central government. ① Moreover, Soeharto forced the merger of Islamic political parties into the United Development Party (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan or PPP) in 1973 and later forced them to abandon their Islamist ideology and uninformed under the army-interpreted of Pancasila ideology in 1985.② The regime also suppressed any Islamic political movements by promoting government-approved proselytising. Any attempt to raise political aspiration by Islamists was suspected and labelled as anti-government. In some cases, the regime carried out violent crackdowns against Islamists such as the 1984 Tanjung Priok massacre and the 1989 Talangsari incident.③ Political Islam gained momentum in the early 1990s as the response of Soeharto to deal with democratisation wave in East Asia. Soeharto initiated Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals’ Association (Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim Indonesia or ICMI) in 1990 as an attempt to control critical Muslim activists by providing them important positions in the government. ④ ICMI grew at a great rate in the mid-1990s with about 42,000 ① Ibid., 45. ② Ibid., 59. ③ Edward Aspinall, Opposing Suharto: Compromise, Resistance, and Regime Change in Indonesia (California: Stanford University Press, 2005), 38. ④ Ibid., 32.



members nationwide. A German-trained aircraft engineer Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie served as the chairman of ICMI and became the most important civilian figure in the late New Order period. Moreover, Soeharto had selected Habibie as his vice-president following the 1997 election. At the same time, some Islamic figures still appeared as critics of the government. Among the most prominent figures are Abdurrahman Wahid, an Islamic cleric and the chairman of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation Nahdatul Ulama.① Wahid refused to join government-sponsored ICMI partly because he believed that the organisation as a form of manipulation of Islam for Soeharto’s political ends. At the other political spectrum, secular nationalists under the Indonesian Democratic Party (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia or PDI) also gained momentum through the rise of Megawati Soekarnoputri, the eldest daughter of Sukarno, as a political figure to challenge Soeharto’s authoritarian rule. The popularity of Megawati helped her to be elected as the chairwoman of PDI at a PDI congress in Surabaya in 1993.② Soeharto found Megawati as a threat to his regime, thus adopted a different measure to deal with her by sabotaged PDI leadership through her opponents. Megawati was ousted as the chairwoman of PDI in a violent incident on 27 July 1996 in Jakarta, and governmentendorsed Soerjadi replaced her leadership in PDI. The government arrested Megawati supporters due to their involvement in the violence. Some of the regime leaders also launched propaganda accusing Megawati supporters as communists who aimed to topple the legitimate government.③ The 1997-8 Asian Financial Crisis in Indonesia impacted the legitimacy of Soeharto’s New Order regime. The country became the hardest-hit country among other countries in the region and led to the massive demonstration against Soeharto’s authoritarian rule. Pro-democracy protesters were critical of Soeharto’s favouritism towards his family and cronies for national projects. Social unrest has erupted in major cities across Indonesia, and the anti-Chinese sentiment was flared high amidst the protest due to economic inequality between Chinese-Indonesians and the natives. Various reports claimed that at least 1,000 people had died and the rioters also raped around 100 women whom most of them were Chinese-Indonesians.


① Ibid., 41. ② Ibid. 145. ③ Ibid., 191. ④ Johanes Herlijanto, “The May 1998 Riots and the Emergence of Chinese Indonesians: Social Movements in the Post-Soeharto Era,” in Academia Sinica, 2005, 69.



uncontrollable situation in Jakarta following May 1998 riots forced Soeharto to resign on May 21, 1998, ending his 32-year reign in Indonesia. He transferred his administration to his vice president, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, as the 3rd Indonesian president until the general election in 1999.

3.2.3 Post-New Order Era (1998-Present) Post-Soeharto era marked with social and economic instability in Indonesia. Habibie initiated reforms in political and law sector, mainly to reduce the social and political roles of the army. Regional separatism movements, ethnic riots, religious conflicts were the main challenges faced by Habibie for his administration. He also faced capital flight, mainly from Chinese-Indonesian tycoons, who were anxious about their security concerns amidst anti-Chinese sentiment in the country. The most critical challenge in his administration was East Timor, a peripheral province of Indonesia in which annexed in 1976 and was in conflict between pro-independence leftist guerrillas with anti-independence militants supported by the army in 1999. International pressure against Indonesia forced Habibie to declare a referendum on August 30, 1999.① The result was that the majority of the voters wanted to separate from Indonesia. It also led to the rejection of Habibie’s “accountability speech” (laporan pertanggungawaban) in front of the People's Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat or MPR) and he failed to secure his nomination for the presidency under Golkar after the general election. The failure of Habibie to secure the presidential nomination gave leeway for secular nationalists and Islamists to gain political legitimacy through a general election in 1999. Golkar conceded defeat for the first time to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan or PDI-P) chaired by Megawati after being in parliament for 27 years. As a secular nationalist political party, PDI-P’s plan to install Megawati as the president of Indonesia was challenged by Islamists who were against a woman leadership over men. Islamic political parties dubbed the “Centre Axis” (Poros Tengah) to vote against Megawati by catapulting a respected Islamic cleric Abdurrahman Wahid as the elected president. MPR also elected Megawati as the vice president to Wahid. ① Jean A. Berlie, “A Socio-Historical Essay: Traditions, Indonesia, Independence, and Elections,” in East Timor’s Independence, Indonesia and ASEAN, ed. Jean A. Berlie (Hong Kong: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 18.



Instead of propagating Islamic political ideology, Wahid’s tenure marked with liberalism and democratic practices in Indonesia. He revoked the ban on Chinese language education and the public display of Chinese culture after being imposed for 32 years. He also controversially proposed to revoke the ban on communism and establish bilateral relations with Israel, which most of Islamists boycotted due to IsraeliPalestinian conflict. At the same time, he failed to secure support from the parliament due to his confrontation with his supporters. On July 23, 2001, Wahid was impeached by the MPR and replaced by Megawati subsequently. Under Megawati’s administration, Indonesia was also facing challenges domestically. The army was propagating territorial integrity following the separation of East Timor. The distrust between military and civilian political leaders pushed the military to play its role as the protector of the country. The army pushed Megawati to adopt a hardline approach to deal with separatists in Aceh and Papua to avoid another misadventure like in East Timor. The army under the command of Ryamizard Ryacudu successfully stirred social instability in Aceh and persuaded Megawati to impose martial law so that the military can conduct massive military operations against separatists in Aceh. ① The agenda of the army to protect national integrity was principal to push civilian political elite on the professionalisation of the military because the army was unwilling to lose most of its influence in the country under military professionalisation, particularly after embargoed by Western countries since East Timor crisis in 1999. Significant political reforms implemented in post-New Order Indonesia following the Constitutional amendments in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002. The amendments change the structure of MPR, from the highest governing body in Indonesia to the legislative branch in Indonesia’s political system. Direct presidential elections by Indonesian voters, reorganising the political organs to create checks and balances, two terms limit for president and vice president in office, and the abolition of a “native Indonesian” citizen requirement for a presidential candidate is among necessary amendments implemented. The rising prominence of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former Army general under Megawati’s cabinet, as the presidential candidate challenged Megawati’s possibility to get re-elected for her second term in 2004. The direct election gave leeway ① Jun Honna, “Security Challenges and Military Reform in Post-authoritarian Indonesia: The Impact of Separatism, Terrorism, and Communal Violence,” in The Politics of Military Reform: Experiences from Indonesia and Nigeria, ed. Jurgen Ruland, et. al. (Berlin: Springer, 2013), 188.



for Yudhoyono to win the election in 2004, mainly after series of Megawati’s controversial policies and economic stagnation. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono secured his administration for two consecutive terms in 2004-2009 and 2009-2014. Yudhoyono's tenure marked with social stability and steady economic growth in Indonesia. Regional separatist movements and social violence were decreased significantly, notably when he was able to make a peace agreement with Aceh separatists in 2005 following the tsunami in 2004 which had damaged separatists’ ability to fight against Indonesian army. At the same time, Islamic ideology was also gaining popularity in this era. Yudhoyono, despite his secular military background, provided a representative of conservative clerics to involve in his Presidential Advisory Board (Dewan Pertimbangan Presiden or Wantimpres), as well as the access for those radical clerics to the Indonesian Ulema Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia or MUI).① Islamist hardline organisations, such as Islamic Defender Front (Front Pembela Islam or FPI) or now-banned Indonesian Party of Liberation (Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia or HTI) became more vocal in aspiring their radical ideas for the country. Growing numbers of Indonesian extremism since the fall of Soeharto’s regime and terror attacks still challenged his administration, but at the same time, Yudhoyono’s administration avoided a hardline approach to deal with terrorism in the name of democratic values, except for terrorists under international most wanted list. Political competition in Indonesia between secular nationalists and Islamists appeared in public after Yudhoyono neared his tenure in 2014. A rising political figure outside traditional power elite, Joko Widodo (popularly known as Jokowi), marked a new era of democracy in Indonesia. Jokowi came from a small businessman background in a small town of Solo in Central Java. He turned into politics in 2005 when he joined PDI-P and won the Solo mayoral election in 2005. He suddenly rose to prominence after defeating Jakarta incumbent governor Fauzi Bowo in Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2012. Jokowi was paired with Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (popularly known by his Chinese name Ahok), a Chinese-Indonesian and Christian politician, and gained spectacular popularity across the country due to the role of media. In 2014, Jokowi was chosen as the presidential candidate from PDI-P to challenge another candidate from the ① Bastiaan Scherpen, “Is hardline Islam really rising in Indonesia?,” New Mandala, February 24, 2017, (accessed March 27, 2018).



traditional elite of military background Prabowo Subianto, who was also the son-in-law of Soeharto. Traditional elite found the nomination of Jokowi as a threat to them, particularly those who are benefitted by Yudhoyono’s administration. Islamists also found Jokowi as a threat to their Islamic ideology survival, and they began to attack Jokowi Islamic credentials due to his secular background and his relations with PDI-P. The fact that Ahok replaced Jokowi’s gubernatorial post triggered the political competition even deeper, considering his double-minority background as Chinese-Indonesian and Christian. This circumstance led to the coalition between Prabowo and Islamists to challenge Jokowi’s move in the presidential election. A series of political fuss between Jokowi’s camp and Prabowo’s counterpart escalated since the official nomination of the presidential election, and it is still on-going even after Prabowo’s defeat in the presidential election in 2014. The divided political spectrum in post-Soeharto Indonesia since 2014 led to challenges in Jokowi’s administration. Unlike his predecessors, at the beginning of his tenure, Jokowi failed to secure support from the parliament after series of attempts by Prabowo-led coalition with six other political parties under “Red and White coalition” to control the majority of seats in the parliament. The political rift with Islamists went deep further following the Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2017, in which Ahok as a political ally of Jokowi was continuously marginalised and attacked by the supporters of Prabowo and Islamic political parties. The smear campaigns against Ahok led to a series of mass demonstrations staged by Islamists triggered by Ahok’s speech in which he referred to a Quranic verse and considered blasphemous by Islamists.① The defeat of Ahok in Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2017 marked the prominence of Islam as a new political spectrum to challenge Jokowi secular and nationalist approach in his administration. Despite Ahok’s relative popularity among urban Jakartans, he could not avoid the pressure from traditional elite and Islamists, and the Court found Ahok guilty for blasphemy and jailed to two years in jail for blasphemy on May 9, 2017.

Timo Duile, “Reactionary Islamism in Indonesia,” New Mandala, (accessed March 27, 2018).






CHAPTER 4 CHINA’S PUBLIC DIPLOMACY IN INDONESIA China’s PD practices in Indonesia include the establishment of CIs in Indonesia, education diplomacy by providing scholarships, media diplomacy through the establishment of a 24-hour Hi-Indo TV channel, and panda diplomacy. In this paper, the scope of China’s PD in Indonesia is limited from 2005 when China and Indonesia established a strategic partnership to the year of 2017 when Indonesia is among the recipient countries of panda loans from China.


Confucius Institutes in Indonesia

Following the fall of Soeharto regime in 1998, Chinese language education has been booming in many urban areas of Indonesia. A growing appetite to learn the Chinese language is visible particularly among Chinese-Indonesians who have been deprived of Chinese language education after G30S in 1965. The economic incentives provided by the rapid economic growth in China, with some Chinese-Indonesians emphasis on rapprochement of Chinese cultural identity following the removal of antiChinese policies in Indonesia, lead to the trend among Indonesians to study the Chinese language. Many of Chinese language education centres established in Indonesia are private-owned by Chinese-Indonesians who had studied Chinese prior 1965 or those who have studied Chinese overseas in Taiwan or Singapore. China’s role in providing Chinese language education like CI in Indonesia is coming relatively late in 2010, with an unofficial role in 2007 at a privately funded Chinese language course in Jakarta. Hanban attached its education curriculum with Jakarta Bina Terampil Insan Persada (BTIP) Kongzi Institute which established on 28 September 2007 and signed by the Ambassador of China to Indonesia Lan Lijun with no official representatives from Indonesian counterparts. The language course, which is now better known as I-Mandarin, is still relatively opaque even among local Jakartans with a limited number of students accepted each year.① ① Jakarta BTIP was established in 1996 when Chinese language education was still restricted by President Soeharto. It is located in the district where most of lower-middle class Chinese-Indonesians live for generations. The language institution is not professionally managed with limited information provided online and lead to ignorance of the institution even among local Jakartans. Currently, Jakarta BTIP adopts I-Mandarin as its popular company



The official agreements between China and Indonesia to establish CI was signed on 28 June 2010 between Hanban and six Indonesian universities – Universitas alAzhar Indonesia (UAI), Universitas Hasanuddin Makassar, Universitas Negeri Malang, Universitas Kristen Maranatha, Universitas Tanjungpura, and Universitas Negeri Surabaya. Due to insufficient knowledge of Chinese culture among Indonesians, both parties agree to indirectly translate CI into Mandarin Language Centre (Pusat Bahasa Mandarin or PBM). The official translation was chosen to avoid misunderstanding between CI as a public educational organisation and Confucianism as one of six recognised state religions in Indonesia which locally known in Fujian dialect as Kong Hu Cu. CI itself is translated literally as Institut Konfusius or Institut Kong Hu Cu in Indonesian. The most viable CI in Indonesia is PBM at the UAI in Jakarta which had been awarded the “Confucius Institute of the Year” in 2014 for its remarkable achievements.① The institution had successfully set up more than ten language training footprints in Indonesian schools and government ministries, such as universities, airport, national police, and the Ministry of National Defense. The PBM at the UAI also hosted various cultural activities with a claimed number of participants reaching 29,870 people. Some others activities are a series of celebrations of the ”Confucius Institute Day,” activities on the 10th anniversary of the CI, intercultural exchange forums, and the 2014 “1st China Movie Week” at the UAI. These set of activities are sufficient to make PBM at the UAI as the most prominent among others. PBM at the UAI has established working cooperation with Fujian Normal University (FNU) to fulfil the need of language instructors from China. Those Chinese instructors from FNU are responsible only to the Chinese Director assigned by FNU but not responsible with the UAI. At the same time, the UAI also provide local Chinese language instructors from its Chinese Studies Programme, and they work together with local Chinese language instructors to teach students at the UAI. PBM at the UAI provides six-month exchange opportunities for local teachers and students to study the Chinese language further at FNU, and the UAI also provides opportunities for FNU teachers and students for a six-month exchange programme. Except for Chinese

name, and expanded its businesses to the suburb of Jakarta. For more information related to I-Mandarin, see (accessed March 1st, 2018). ① Thung Ju Lan, “Confucius Institute at Universitas Al Azhar, Jakarta: The unseen power of China,” Wacana Vol. 18 No. 1 (2017), 162



proficiency test (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi or HSK), most of the activities provided by the PBM at the UAI is limited only to students of the UAI, and it does not serve as an open language course institution like the Japan Foundation, Goethe-Institut, or L'Alliance Française. All CIs in Indonesia have established their working cooperations with local universities in China with a similar pattern of operations like PBM at the UAI. Examples are Universitas Hasanuddin has been in working cooperation with Nanchang University; Universitas Negeri Malang with Guangxi Normal University; Universitas Kristen Maranatha with Hebei Normal University; Universitas Tanjungpura with Northeast Normal University; and Universitas Negeri Surabaya with Huazhong Normal University.① Since PBM at the UAI serves as the most prominent CI in Indonesia among others, this paper puts stronger importance on the logic behind the establishment of the PBM at the UAI. The UAI is an Islamic university with a relatively moderate academic reputation in Indonesia in comparison with other well-established and more multicultural universities such as University of Indonesia (UI) in which also located in Greater Jakarta area, the capital city of Indonesia. The selection of the UAI includes two essential factors: the UAI cooperation with FNU prior an agreement with Hanban and the assistance of Yayasan Nation Building (Nabil), a foundation established shortly after the 1998 riots by well-known Chinese-Indonesian tycoons. The UAI was initially founded in 2000 under the Islamic Boarding School of AlAzhar Foundation (Yayasan Pesantren Islam Al-Azhar or YPI). It is a private university located in the city centre of Jakarta. With 16 majors offered at the UAI, Chinese Studies Programme is among the most popular in the university due to its active cooperation with international partners, such as FNU. Prior the establishment of PBM, the UAI and FNU have cooperated in various fields, including language instructors exchanges. Thus it was one step ahead for the UAI to forge cooperation with Hanban in Greater Jakarta area in comparison with the more well-established UI where no cooperation with Chinese universities ever signed and most of its active Chinese Studies lecturers were graduated from Taiwan instead of mainland China. Nabil was founded and chaired by Eddie Lembong, a Chinese-Indonesian tycoon who owns one of the country’s largest pharmacy industries, PT Pharos. Lembong was ① Ibid., 157



the chair of Chinese-Indonesian Association (Perhimpunan Tionghoa Indonesia or INTI), one of two major ethnic Chinese mass organisations after the fall of Soeharto’s regime, in 1999 to 2005.① Lembong, together with other Chinese-Indonesian tycoons under Nabil, involved in the establishment of the PBM at the UAI through donations. The motives of the donation are not entirely philanthropic, but also political implications. Lembong insisted the importance of indigenous Indonesians to decrease their prejudices against Chinese-Indonesians so that it is vital to for Nabil to contribute to the establishment of CI in Indonesia. Lembong claimed that it was the UAI that approached him first for the donation for the funding of the establishment of PBM. The UAI was in the problem to find the funding sources for the establishment of PBM. Thus the willingness of Nabil to involve in the establishment of the new institution at the UAI was a godsend to the UAI. At the same time, Nabil’s motives to introduce Chinese culture to indigenous Indonesians ought to be appropriately channelled due to lower Chinese-Indonesians percentage study at the UAI.② Nabil’s roles in assisting PBM at the UAI also includes the establishment of the socalled CI’s task-force. CI’s task-force mainly serves to provide financial assistance for the teachers from China regarding the bureaucratic process of residence permit. The existence of CI’s task-force is vital because PBM at the UAI was not willing to pay for visa application fee required by the immigration law of the Republic of Indonesia.


Education Diplomacy

China encouraged educational exchanges by giving scholarships to Indonesian students to study in selected Chinese universities. The so-called “Chinese Government Scholarship” (CGS) introduced to prospective Indonesian candidates in 2011. The scholarship is provided by Ministry of Education (MOE) of the People’s Republic of China through China Scholarship Council (CSC) annually. Awardees of the CGS got an ① Another major ethnic Chinese mass organization in Indonesia is Indonesian Chinese Social Association (Paguyuban Sosial Marga Tionghoa Indonesia or PSMTI). ② There is no official data regarding the percentage of Chinese-Indonesians at Indonesian universities ever provided by the government or institutions due to the sensitivity of ethnic, race, religion, and social groups (SARA) issues in the country imposed effectively since the beginning of Soeharto’s regime. But it is well-known that ChineseIndonesians would rather prefer to study at multicultural private universities or overseas instead of public or Islamic universities where the percentage of Chinese-Indonesians are significantly low. Another method to roughly explore the percentage of Chinese-Indonesians at Indonesian universities is through religion identities. The higher the percentage of Buddhists or Christians, the more Chinese-Indonesians enroll in the universities. It does make sense since only less than five percent of Chinese-Indonesians practice Islam.



exemption from tuition fee, accommodation fee, insurance fee, and also provided monthly living allowance. ① The scholarship application is channelled through the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Jakarta. The Embassy submits the information of the applicants to the MOE and also assists the CSC to select the prospective candidates. The Embassy is also responsible for announcing the scholarship results and inviting the awardees to receive the letter of acceptance from the selected university. China granted scholarships to candidates of undergraduate, master, or doctoral programme through CGS Bilateral Programme between China and Indonesia. Besides the CGS Bilateral Programme, Indonesian applicants are also eligible to apply via CGS ASEAN, CGS Unilateral Programme, and CGS Higher Education Programme. Following the establishment of CSP, China also granted scholarships to Indonesian civil servants in various ministries based on MoU in selected universities. In the field of Chinese language, China also granted scholarships via CIs in Indonesia. In total, China granted to 352 Indonesian scholarship awardees in 2017, increased 11 folds from that in 2015.② As mentioned earlier in Chapter 3, there is an increasing trend of Indonesian students to study in China. With a total of 14,714 students studying in China in 2016, Indonesia ranked as one of the top 10 sources for international students in China. The majority of Indonesian students in China are studying the Chinese language. Usually, they study at some less prestigious universities, including those who have received CGS. There is an increasing number of students enrolled in different majors, such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and social sciences in China’s top universities although still quite limited to less than 100 students per university.

① “Chinese Government Scholarship Program,” Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Indonesia, September 30, 2011, (accessed March 27, 2018). ② “Chinese Embassy in Indonesia holds the 2017 Chinese Government Scholarship Award Ceremony,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, August 22, 2017, (accessed March 27, 2018).




Media Diplomacy: Hi-Indo! TV

China launched Hi-Indo! TV in 2015 aimed at young Indonesians with a target audience of the 15–40 age demographic as the cultural bridge to understanding China. Inaugurated by Vice Premier Liu Yandong, the 24-hour TV channel is a joint venture of China International Television Corporation (CITV) and Indonesian content provider PT Elnet Media Bersama. Hi-Indo! TV programmes are all sourced from China’s state broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV), and PT Elnet Media Bersama has the freedom to choose which programmes are found suitable for local audiences. ① At the time of writing, Hi-Indo! TV launches nine TV programmes include documentary, animated cartoon, and drama tv series. All of the TV programmes are in Chinese added with Indonesian subtitles. In the future, Hi-Indo! TV will also broadcast localised contents as well as Indonesian dubbings.

Table 1: List of TV Programmes on Hi-Indo TV! (April 2018) Source:









Hi-Indo, (accessed April 17, 2018). Title


Journey to the West


A Bite of Shunde


Amazing China


ICS and Youth of IERE


Jalan Peradaban


Travelling Across China


Walking Dinner Table


Beauty Rival in Place


Diamond Lover


King’s War


Painted Skin


Perfect Couple


Tiny Times


① Dylan Amirio, “China launches Hi-Indo! 24-hour TV channel in RI,” The Jakarta Post, May 29, 2015, (accessed March 27, 2018).



Hi-Indo! TV is a free-to-air TV which is accessible for nearly 46 million Indonesian tv viewers daily. Moreover, Hi-Indo! TV is also penetrating the market through subscription-based TV service, Usee TV, owned by Indonesia’s largest telecommunication and network state-owned company. Hi-Indo! TV is also maximising the new media platforms, such as the video-sharing website YouTube and Android application to broadcast its tv programmes other than the traditional broadcast method. With the latest videos uploaded were around January 2017, the channel only attracted small numbers of audience.①


Panda Diplomacy: Hu Chun and Cai Tao

At the time of writing, Indonesia is among 18 countries in the world to receive giant pandas from China. Two pandas, Hu Chun and Cai Tao, are loaned as part of a 10year loan agreement with the Indonesian counterpart. The panda couple is placed at Indonesian Safari Park (Taman Safari Indonesia or TSI) in Bogor, West Java around 70 km south of Jakarta. The animal exchange agreement between a panda and a komodo dragon was initially signed in 2012 by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and President Hu Jintao in Beijing embodied among other six memoranda of understanding (MoU).② It takes five years for TSI to prepare the infrastructure to welcome pandas from China, and the giant panda pair finally arrived in Indonesia on September 29, 2017. After being quarantined for about two months, the official inauguration of ChinaIndonesia Giant Panda Conservation at TSI took place on November 26, 2017, witnessed by Indonesian President Jokowi and Vice Premier Liu Yandong as part of a cultural exchange mechanism between the two countries.

① The screenshot of official YouTube channel of Hi-Indo! TV can be found in Appendix Picture A-1. ② Heru Purwanto “Indonesia, China to exchange komodo with panda,” Antara News, April 10, 2012, (accessed March 27, 2018).



Photo 1: Panda Palace at Taman Safari Indonesia, Bogor, West Java

Source: Jeroen Jacobs, “Taman Safari Indonesia Officially Opened,”, November 26, 2017, (accessed March 27, 2018).

The choice of Indonesia as another panda-receiving country highlights the importance of bilateral ties between China and Indonesia. Under the leadership of Yudhoyono and Hu, both countries had increased bilateral trade from $8.706 billion in 2004 to $52.4 billion in 2013. Both countries had elevated partnership status twice from a strategic partnership in 2005 to CSP in 2013. As the largest country in ASEAN, Indonesia’s turn to receive pandas from China is relatively late in comparison with other smaller ASEAN member states such as Thailand (2003), Singapore (2012), and Malaysia (2014). At the same time, those three ASEAN member states have higher bilateral trade volumes with China than Indonesia. Prior the animal exchange agreement, TSI claimed that the idea of hosting giant panda in Indonesia had been planned since Soeharto era, but due to the troubled relations between both countries, it had never been realised until the regime change in Indonesia. Panda’s existence at TSI is expected to increase zoo visitors. The zoo management aims to increase zoo visitors by 50 percent to 2 million visitors annually. Due to limited information of the visitors to the zoo, this paper cannot provide an exact correlation between the higher zoo visitors and the existence of pandas in TSI in 2017.



CHAPTER 5 CHALLENGES AND PROBLEMS China’s PD practices in Indonesia encountered challenges despite rising importance of China as a foreign partner. The latest survey conducted by BBC World Service in 2017 shows that Indonesian public views on China have become more negative. Positive views have dropped significantly from 52 to 28 percent while negative views have increased from 28 percent to 50 percent. It is the first time among Indonesian public to have flipped opinion from positive to negative perception of China’s influence since the survey began in 2005.

Figure 1: Views of China’s influence among Indonesians Source: BBC World Service Poll, “Sharp Drop in World Views of US, UK: Global Poll,” (London: GlobeScan/PPC, 2014), 37 and BBC World Service Poll, “Negative views of Russia on the Rise: Global Poll,” (London: GlobeScan/PIPA, 2017), 36.

Another survey conducted by American think tank Pew Research Center related to the opinion of China among Indonesians also shows that the constant decline of favourable view since 2013 from 70 to 55 percent in 2017.



Figure 2: Favourable View of China among Indonesians Source: “Global Indicators Database: China Image, Opinion of China: Survey Answers of Respondents in Indonesia”. Pew Research Center, 2017, (accessed December 4, 2017).

A study conducted by Rene L. Pattiradjawane on the perspective of Indonesian toward a rising China in 2014 includes a detailed survey on the Indonesian respondents. Negative views on China among the respondents are mainly related to the poor quality of Chinese products found in Indonesia, trade controls, a communist country, and stereotypes such as stingy and selfish. However, some of the unfavoured things found in the survey are also commonly associated with Chinese-Indonesians, particularly on economic stereotypes.



Table 1: Unfavoured Things from China to Indonesians Source: The Indonesian perspective toward rising China: Balancing the national interest (Rene L. Pattiradjawane, 2016)

Unfavoured things


Base: Respondent


No mention of negative image (NET)

33 percent

Mention negative image (NET)

64 percent

Products from China are not of good

8 percent

quality Trade controls

8 percent

Communist country

6 percent

Stingy/too calculating

6 percent


5 percent

The food

4 percent

Imitative products

4 percent


3 percent

Its population is found everywhere

3 percent


2 percent

Hard workers

2 percent

Dictatorship country

2 percent

Regulation/law enforcement

2 percent


14 percent

The author categorises three significant factors of challenges and problems for China’s PD practices which cannot satisfy the Indonesian public to shape a receptive environment for Chinese. Those factors are divided into a domestic political competition in Indonesia ; other countries’ effective PD practices in Indonesia with some selected cases of Swedish and Japanese PD practices in Indonesia; and China’s bureaucratic and inflexible PD practices in Indonesia.




Domestic Political Competition in Indonesia

Following the fall of Soeharto’s regime in 1998, Indonesia has been transitioning into democracy after decades of authoritarian rule under the supremacy of the army. The so-called communist threats to pave the legitimacy of the army to stay in power were replaced substantially with other issues occurred following the years of instability. Democracy in Indonesia spawned multiple political parties to compete for the general election held every five years since 1999. The political elite in Indonesia maximise the trending issues in the country to gain widespread support from the voters. Yudhoyono won the first-ever direct presidential election in 2004 following security, regional separatism, and terrorism challenges encountered by Megawati administration. Due to his military and ministerial post, he gained popularity among voters who are pleased by his works and promises to fight against terrorism. Yudhoyono adopted neoliberal economic policies to maximise Indonesia’s economic growth. His neoliberal economic approach was highly criticised by opposition parties, PDI-P and Gerindra, which were allies in 2009-2014. ① Despite Indonesia’s decade of stability and rapid economic growth under Yudhoyono’s administration, rampant corruption within Yudhoyono’s administration became one of the trending issues among Indonesian voters in the 2014 presidential election. Opposition parties maximised their outer circle benefits of Yudhoyono’s administration to claim their innocence in corruption cases involving Yudhoyono’s inner circle. The different interests of PDI-P and Gerindra marked the end of an alliance of both parties, and they were competing to each other in the presidential election instead. PDI-P took advantage of the popularity of a non-elite figure Jokowi to be the party’s presidential candidate front-runner. Prabowo took advantage of the rising nostalgia Soeharto’s regime with the promise to provide low commodity prices (often mistakenly associated with the success story of New Order regime) to lure voters. Prabowo also characterised his presidential campaign with ultra-nationalistic jargon with foreign threats as his primary campaign agenda in the presidential debates. On the other hand, Islamists are aligning themselves

① PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri was paired with Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto in the 2009 presidential election as president and vice president candidate. They were defeated at the hands of YudhoyonoBoediono with 60.8 percent of vote, far ahead of Megawati-Prabowo with 26.8 percent of vote. Jusuf Kalla who served as vice president in Yudhoyono’s first tenure in 2004-2009 was also running for president paired with former general Wiranto and came at the last with 12.4 percent of vote due to his non-Javanese background.



with Prabowo due to the existence of an ideological rift between conservative Muslims and Megawati. The victory of Jokowi in the 2014 presidential election highlighted the deepening political cleavages between voters of liberal-progressive led by Jokowi and conservative Islam led by Prabowo. Traditional elite behind Prabowo’s camp tailored numerous attacks on Jokowi’s camp with the accusations of his link with PKI in the past, ethnic Chinese background, un-Islamic characteristics, as well as his role as a foreign proxy to serve foreign interests in Indonesia. The last accusation is often associated with China, particularly after the rise of China’s trade and investment volumes in Indonesia. At the same time, pro-Jokowi camp often attacks Prabowo with his human right abuses in the past, connection with the corrupted family of Soeharto, power obsession, and radical policies. The assertiveness of China in the SCS also highlighted the momentum for Indonesian elites to manifest their interests through territorial integrity. Despite China and Indonesia have no territorial conflict in the SCS, both countries have a disagreement related to China’s claim of the so-called “traditional fishing ground” which is not recognised under UNCLOS. Escalation around the Natuna islands between Indonesian and Chinese vessels have occurred many times, particularly in 2016 which involved three illegal fishing and illegal intrusion incidents. Under Jokowi’s administration, Indonesia put more efforts to combat illegal fisheries which had caused a considerable loss to the country. The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia has taken an aggressive approach to combat illegal fisheries by blowing up illegal boats. Since 2014 to 2018, more than 100 foreign boats have been blown up and among the captured boats were also a Chinese boat which had been blown up for the first time in 2015. Following the sensationalised anti-China sentiment in Indonesia, Jokowi administration adopted a more hawkish position to China. Indonesia established a new military base in Natuna following the renaming Indonesia’s part of SCS into North Natuna Sea (Laut Natuna Utara) in 2017. Despite no international recognition of the new name, the renaming of Indonesian part of SCS gives a strong message to Indonesians, particularly the opposition groups who blame Jokowi administration’s as pro-China and too reliant on Chinese investments and loans. Besides territorial issue, the distorted issue of illegal Chinese workers also challenged Jokowi administration. 47


Manpower Minister under Jokowi administration Hanif Dhakiri also popularised his anger over illegal Chinese workers to the public on his impromptu visit to a Chinese company operating in Indonesia.① The importance of Jokowi administration to reflect nationalism by putting China as the threat is necessary for the re-election of Jokowi in the 2019 presidential election, which has been maximised by the opposition groups to challenge Jokowi administration.


Other Countries’ PD Practices in Indonesia

The unpopularity of China in Indonesia in comparison with other major countries can be seen in specific cases selected for this paper. Swedish “bus diplomacy” in Jakarta following “made in China” bus fire incidents and Japanese cultural diplomacy in Indonesia are intentionally selected to compare and contrast PD practices conducted by China and other selected countries in Indonesia.

5.2.1 Swedish Bus Diplomacy in Jakarta As the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta has relatively backward public transportation systems in comparison with other cities in Southeast Asia. The city has suffered severe traffic congestions in the city, particularly during rush hours. To solve the traffic problem, Jakarta has developed a bus rapid transit transportation system in 2004 known as TransJakarta. Despite being developed for a decade, TransJakarta was also equally bad in delivering public services due to corruption, inefficiency, and a limited number of buses to accommodate millions of passengers every day. When Jokowi took office as the governor of Jakarta in 2012, he promised to add more buses to improve the services of TransJakarta. At the end of 2012, Jokowi agreed to purchase 66 articulated buses from Zhongtong Bus Holding with a total investment of Rp 221 billion ($16 million) operating in three main corridors out of 12 corridors operating at that time. Jakarta’s government awarded several companies for bus procurement to accommodate more corridors, most of them were Chinese buses due to lower prices.

① Herianto Batubara, “Ini Video Menaker Marah dan Bentak TKA China: Sit Down! (This is the video of angry manpower minister and scolding Chinese foreign workers: Sit down!),” Detik, December 29, 2016. (accessed March 27, 2018).



Photo 1: Chinese-made bus fire incident in Jakarta Source: Andi Muttya Keteng, “Ini Dugaan Penyebab Bus Transjakarta Terbakar (This is the reason behind Transjakarta bus fire),” Liputan 6, March 9, 2015, (accessed March 27, 2018)

The second round of bus contract procurements had problems related to the quality of the buses. Some technical problems were detected in some of the newly arrived buses in the Port of Tanjung Priok, Jakarta in 2014. Various media reports focused on the irregularity of prices, considering the obscurity of the bus manufacturers. The problems became more sensationalised in the media following corrupt practices in the procurement process. Due to the technical issues, some of the newly purchased buses caught on fire while in operation. The mainstream opinions blamed the poor quality of “made-in-China” buses and shaped the popular opinion when TransJakarta buses caught on fire afterwards, despite some of them were not Chinese buses. This condition also forced the then-Vice Governor Ahok to reject Chinese buses for future procurement and preferred European brands instead. Ahok’s choice was made also related to the widespread accusations on him related to his ethnic Chinese background by his opponents, including mistakenly assumed that he was pro-China. At that time, Ahok was popular among Jakartans due to his unorthodox approach to deal with Jakarta’s corrupt and inefficient bureaucracies.



Photo 2: Swedish “bus diplomacy” in Jakarta Source: Fanny Octavianus, “Bus gandeng Scania Euro 6 (Scania Euro 6 articulated bus),” May 8, 2014, (accessed March 27, 2018)

Ordinary citizens welcomed Ahok’s decision to purchase European buses as a sign of “Ahok’s sincere public service” in contrast with “corrupt-laden Chinese bus procurement” by several companies. The popular demand for high-quality bus provided leeway for Swedish Embassy in Jakarta to promote Scania, a Swedish large bus manufacturer, for the future option of TransJakarta buses. The then-Ambassador of Sweden to Indonesia Ewa Polano attended the Scania bus demo on May 8, 2014. Ahok praised the quality of Scania buses and quipped to the public that Scania does not need to bribe him with gratification nor lavish dinner, practices commonly found among business communities in Indonesia. Besides “bus diplomacy”, Swedish Embassy also provided some technical assistance to solve traffic gridlock in Jakarta, such as the electronic road pricing system and electronic parking meters. As the result of Swedish high-profile “bus diplomacy”, Jakarta administration purchased Scania buses for TransJakarta in 2015. Although Scania was not the only brand purchased by Jakarta administration, Scania is gaining popularity among local Jakartans who popularly believe that the buses are of high-quality. In the end, the “bus diplomacy” was a successful method by the Swedish government via its embassy to



increase Swedish reputation among Indonesians, particularly Jakartans, who can associate Sweden with their visible, high-quality products in their daily life.

5.2.2 Japanese Cultural Diplomacy in Indonesia Japanese culture has been popular among Indonesians as the impacts of strong bilateral relations between Indonesia and Japan. Some research papers have shown Indonesians positive attitudes on Japanese influence in the country. The popularity of Japanese popular culture such as manga, anime, and music is also high, particularly among young Indonesians. This paper includes several cases of Japanese popularity in Indonesia which may become challenges of China’s PD practices. The popularity of Japan in Indonesia has been shaped since the early stage of the Indonesian society. Despite the history of Japanese militarism in Indonesia, the bilateral relations between Japan and Indonesia were uninterrupted. Due to the historical relationship between the Japanese military and Indonesian founding fathers, including war generals, the political elite in Indonesia rarely channelled their strong resentment against Japan. In the period of Guided Democracy when Sukarno was critical against Western imperialism, he married a young Japanese woman Naoko Nemoto (also known as Ratna Sari Dewi) as his third wife. Naoko usually accompanied Sukarno most of the time when the president appeared in public, including state receptions of foreign leaders. Following the anti-communist purge by the army, Indonesia turned away from its revisionist foreign policy and became friendlier with the West. While the bilateral relationship between China and Indonesia deteriorated significantly, the relationship with Japan had not affected because the country adopted free market economy. Indonesia under Soeharto’s regime sought investments mainly from Japan to recover its bankrupt economy. The economic dependence with Japan triggered anti-Japanese sentiment led by students, and led to a violent demonstration on January 15, 1974, when Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei visited Jakarta. Japanese government realised the problems, as the anti-Japanese sentiments also occurred in Thailand and the Philippines. Based on the so-called Fukuda Doctrine, Japan started to adopt “heart-toheart” relationship between Japan and ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, as equal by mobilising all strategic resources. The resources include political, economic, social, and cultural.



In the field of PD, Japan established its language and cultural centre, Japan Foundation Jakarta, in 1974 to promote better understanding between peoples from both countries. Japan also penetrated popular culture through a successful Japanese TV series Oshin which had been broadcasted in Indonesia through the state broadcaster TVRI in 1986. Oshin is a Japanese success story in presenting Japanese traditional culture in the modern society. A study conducted by a Japanese scholar revealed that impression to the Japanese among Indonesian respondents. Prior watching Oshin, some respondents believed Japanese were cruel, no interest in each other, impatient, sadistic, or retaining evil customs. Interestingly, after watching Oshin, impression on Japanese changed drastically to be more positive, such as hard-working, law-abiding, loyal and obedient women, patient, having a good culture, and acknowledging Japan as an advanced society.① Following the broadcasting liberalisation in the 1990s, Japanese anime cartoons set foot on the Indonesian viewers and received huge fans among youngsters. The demand for Japanese cultural products are continually rising among Indonesians, and thus created strong Japanophile society in Indonesia. In 2014, Japan also established a media diplomacy practice through WakuWaku Japan TV channel. Initially launched in Indonesia, WakuWaku Japan broadcasts Japanese programmes, such as music, drama, sports, and children’s content in other Asian countries such as Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, and Vietnam. WakuWaku Japan has attracted many audiences, particularly young Japanophiles in the region.② A survey conducted by Rene L. Pattiradjawane shows that 86 percent of total Indonesian respondents have favourable views on Japan, which is the top in contrast with 71 percent favourable views on China and 39 percent favourable views on Russia.

① Kazuo Takahashi, “The Impacts of Japanese Television Programs: Worldwide “Oshin Phenomena”,” Journal of Regional Development Studies Vol. 1 (1998), 153 ② The screenshot of the official YouTube page of WakuWaku Japan can be found in Appendix Picture A-2.



Figure 3: Level of preference on countries among Indonesians Source: Rene L. Pattiradjawane, “The Indonesian perspective toward rising China: Balancing the national interest,” Asian Journal of Comparative Politics, Vol. 1, No. 3 (2016), 271.

In a more specific case, Japanese popularity is well-represented by the case of Onan Hiroshi. As a Bangkok-based Japanese artist, Hiroshi’s comic strips are posted online on Facebook and often critical on social issues in Thailand and Indonesia. With a satire style of drawing, Hiroshi criticised Indonesian government’s decision to deal with China for a high-speed railway project instead of Japan. It is known that Japan had invested efforts and money for the feasibility study of the project much earlier than China. Under the Jokowi administration, Indonesia preferred China instead of Japan for the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project due to lower cost and Chinese willingness to do the project without government’s back-up. In his comic strip, he conveyed the message that Indonesians would regret the choice to buy poor-quality Chinese train just because of lower prices instead of better quality Japanese counterpart. In another comic, he also criticised Jokowi by depicting him as a beggar who embraced 53


Japan when the election time is approaching. Interestingly, the responses from Indonesian netizens are favourable to Hiroshi’s comic strip by criticising Jokowi’s decision to deal with China for the project.①


Bureaucratic and Inflexible China’s PD Practices

As mentioned earlier, China’s PD practices are not enough to change the negative impression of China among Indonesians. Some essential factors are due to the rigidity and inflexible PD practices conducted by China. The government holds significant roles in formulating and conducting PD practices, and it also applies to the context of China’s PD in Indonesia. On the other hand, Indonesians recognise Chinese features through trade. It explains why negative stereotypes among Indonesians about China are related to Chinese inferior quality products, trade controls, stingy, and others. The rapid expansion of Chinese businesses in Indonesia provides varieties of Chinese product in the market. Chinese products vary from low to high-quality depending on the prices and specifications. For instance, Chinese smartphone companies such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo excel in low to the middle-end smartphone market in Indonesia due to the reliability of the brands. The rapid expansion of reliable Chinese brands among Indonesians is assets in formulating more flexible PD practices in Indonesia. The case of Swedish “bus diplomacy” in Jakarta is an example of the synergised relations between government and business in shaping positive images of the country. In fact, China tried to follow the success story of Swedish “bus diplomacy” in Jakarta when Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun visited Jakarta on November 20, 2014, to discuss cooperation as both are bonded in the sister cities agreement. Wang also discussed Chinese bus with Ahok and donated 100 Foton buses to the city. ② Unfortunately, the donation arranged after a series of unpopular opinions about the poor quality of Chinese products and too late to restore the image. Despite Ahok’s effort to correcting misinformation related the stereotypes of shoddy Chinese buses after Wang’s visit to the public, it was politically unpopular for him to purchase Chinese brands after the bus fire scandal. Thus the administration still preferred European buses for the next ① The screenshot of the comic strip can be found in Appendix Picture A-3. ② Leo Jegho, “Ahok and Beijing Mayor Discussed Made in China Buses for TransJakarta,” Global Indonesian Voices, November 22, 2014, (accessed March 27, 2018).



purchases. It is also noted that the media coverage of Wang’s bus donation to Jakarta is limited without a significant audience. While in practical China has done many PD practices like other countries, those PD practices lack assessments regarding the effectiveness in channelling China’s interests. CGS for Indonesian students is one of the best examples of the rigidity of China’s PD. Despite the generosity of CGS in comparison with other scholarships for Indonesian students such as Fulbright (United States), DAAD (Germany), Monbukagakusho (Japan) to a certain extent, CGS is not popular among Indonesian students due to limited publication. CGS also relatively failed to attract top students from top local universities due to lack of networking and promotion. Based on the author’s observation as one of CGS awardees, applicants of CGS from top local universities usually put the CGS as an optional to scholarships from Western countries, partly because of the low competitiveness. CGS has varied applicants from provinces in Indonesia, and usually, those applicants have graduated from lesser-known local universities. The author also finds that the CGS application process for Indonesian students is unsatisfactory due to the limited information provided online, mismanagement of information, as well as inadequate management responses from the Embassy of China in Jakarta as the official institution responsible for the CGS. Applicants need to independently manage an online forum to ask and provide information related to CGS. Unfortunately, these management-related shortcomings have not improved even the number of awardees have increased significantly in 2017. CGS for Indonesian students in general also lacks team-building activities between donor (CSC) and awardees even prior academic year starts. Thus some of Indonesian CGS awardees may encounter culture shock and unpleasant experiences living in China. However, based on the author’s encounter with other Indonesian CGS awardees in Beijing, some awardees do not enjoy their study in China, and they have not mastered basic Chinese language proficiency even after years of living in China. The actual nature of personal characteristics of Indonesian CGS awardees is not essential for this study. These actual conditions as the challenges for China’s PD practices in the field of education diplomacy need to be underlined. The role of the Chinese embassy in Indonesia to reach the public is also limited to ceremonial activities. In the digital age, the embassy’s official website is still oldfashioned with no accessible information for the public to get to know China much 55


better. Most of the articles published in the website are related to activities and cooperation between government-to-government, with some related to PD practices such as “Chinese Film Week 2016” which was discontinued in 2017 and 2018 with unknown reasons. Due to the rise of anti-Chinese sentiment in Indonesia in 2016, the misinformation and distorted information related to China was omnipresent in the online media. The Embassy published Chinese Ambassador’s statement opposing the hoax statement related to the allegedly illegal chilli-planting by Chinese citizens as “a biological weapon to destroy Indonesia’s economy.” The author found the publication as unnecessary for the fake news was poorly-tailored in comparison with other negative stereotypes on China which are more relevant. The publication is also written in English, which limit the audience who would read the article. Last but not least, the publication was too brief with convoluted and unappealing propaganda style of writing.① Despite the success of panda diplomacy in Indonesia, the further analysis of the mutual relationship between panda diplomacy and China’s PD practices are still limited. The author underlines that China has not maximised panda diplomacy as the tool to provide information to foreign audiences, particularly related to its achievements in protecting the endangered animal and the application of sophisticated technology to keep the panda. Equally important is that panda diplomacy must troubleshoot the profitisation problem of panda conservation which limits the target audience of China’s PD. Profitisation of panda conservation comes as the result of expensive treatment costs of the animal. Thus, it is understandable for local zoos to charge an additional entrance fee to see the pandas. For the sake of the effectiveness of China’s PD in Indonesia, China can assist TSI to provide greater access to panda diplomacy to Indonesians by launching a camera streaming online platform.

① The screenshot of the Ambassador’s statement on the official website of Chinese Embassy can be found in Appendix Picture A-4.



CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION In the wake of the BRI, China’s PD practices in Indonesia are essential to promote understanding of the project which would create mutual benefits for both countries. China faces challenges and problems in channelling its PD due to various reasons, such as internal political competition between political elite, challenges from other countries, and also China’s rigidity and inflexibility in conducting PD practices. Those challenges are not new in the context of Indonesia since Japan also suffered anti-Japanese sentiment in the 1970s due to rapid investment and trade with Indonesia at that time. With well-tailored diplomacy, Japan could change the negative impression of the country to be more positive decades after. China should adopt innovative PD approaches to deal with challenges in Indonesia. In the Indonesian context, political competition becomes an inherent part of the Indonesian society due to the adoption of electoral democracy. The long history of rivalry between secular-nationalists and Islamists became more evident in the last four years following the victory of Jokowi as Indonesia’s seventh president. The framing of China and Chinese-Indonesians as threats to Indonesia following G30S in 1965 remain useful for the elite, mainly from the retired army generals and Islamists, to gain popular votes in the era of democracy in Indonesia. Despite a non-intervention agreement between China and Indonesia as one of the prerequisites of normalisation of bilateral relations in 1990, China must not stay silent when political elites in Indonesia utilise the anti-Chinese sentiment as their political tools to gain popular votes. The consequences of the non-receptive environment in Indonesia on China will bring more harm than good to both countries. However, the author expects improvements of China’s PD practices in Indonesia by providing overt and covert communication channels. PD is a useful tool to attract foreign audiences to one country’s foreign policy. Since China has been rising rapidly and reaching out to many countries through BRI, effective PD is instrumental to the success of Chinese foreign policy. The government needs to assess and evaluate all of the Chinese PD practices abroad, considering the changing nature of the society from time to time. The author realises that this thesis lacks primary sources to validate the data due to limited responses from targetted subjects. Due to time constraint, the author also omits 57


quantitative method to make this study more comprehensive. As the bilateral relations between China and Indonesia continue to grow, the future research on China’s PD in Indonesia would be beneficial to answer myriad challenges and problems which left unsolved. As mentioned earlier, China’s PD in Indonesia has been under-researched. Thus further research into the topic is strongly encouraged to develop better understanding between peoples from both countries.



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Acknowledgement Writing an academic acknowledgement is perhaps the easiest to write out of all sections in this thesis. Nevertheless, it is the most important part for me to thank all of the people who have supported me throughout my study at Tsinghua University. Executing succinct writing for the acknowledgements is challenging for me, but I try to make it as concise, precise, and straightforward as possible. First, I shall thank my thesis supervisor, Prof. Xing Yue. Albeit we just recently know each other in my second year of study, she gave me priceless inputs to support my thesis writing. I am greatly indebted to her since the very beginning of my work. She provided me with the details and suggestions for constructing academic papers. She set a high standard of achievement that I feel necessary to change my bad habits in writing academic papers. I am grateful to her who gave me valuable feedback on this thesis. I also thank Prof. Yan Xuetong, Prof. Li Bin, Prof. Tang Xiaoyang, Prof. Zheng Lu, Prof. Sun Xuefeng, Prof. Zhang Chuanjie, Prof. Zhao Kejin, Prof. Su Yusung, Prof. Pang Xun, Prof. Yu Xiaohong, Dr. Wang Tao, and Ms. Liu Bing for direct and indirect suggestions in shaping and clarifying my understanding of international relations and Chinese culture in particular. This project would not have happened without their support and guidance along the way. Additionally, I would like also extend my gratitude to China Scholarship Council (CSC) for providing me full Chinese Government Scholarship (CGS). My formal graduate education pursuits in China would not be possible without generous support from CSC. This is also the real reason behind my research topic for this thesis, for I expect to witness the tremendous success of China’s public diplomacy practices in Indonesia in the future. Finally, I thank my perfect parents: my father, Ho Tung-min, and my mother, Zhong Mei-yun. Thank you for your love, encouragement, and sacrifices which have shaped me today. I thank my cute brother, Marco Ho, who is my forever friend despite his inability to speak due to autism. I would also thank Nana Nurliana, my favourite history teacher and also my “foster grandma,” who is always supportive of my study. Last but not least, I would like to thank my colleagues, particularly my Chinese and Indonesian friends in Beijing, for the opportunity to spend valuable time together. I owe you all my life and I hope I will be able to make positive contributions in the future.


Personal Statement

Personal Statement 本人郑重声明:所呈交的学位论文,是本人在导师指导下,独立进行研究工 作所取得的成果。尽我所知,除文中已经注明引用的内容外,本学位论文的研究 成果不包含任何他人享有著作权的内容。对本论文所涉及的研究工作做出贡献的 其他个人和集体,均已在文中以明确方式表明。 The author asseverates: this thesis was prepared solely by myself under instruction of my thesis advisor. To my knowledge, except for documents cited in the thesis, the research results do not contain any achievements of any others who have claimed copyrights. To contributions made by relevant individuals and organizations in the completion of the thesis, I have clearly acknowledged all their efforts.






Appendix A Pictures

Appendix A


Picture A-1: Screenshot of Hi-Indo! TV Channel on YouTube Source:




Youtube, (accessed March 27, 2018).



Appendix A Pictures

Picture A-2: Screenshot of WakuWaku Japan TV Channel on YouTube







Youtube, March

n.d., 27,


Appendix A Pictures

Picture A-3: Screenshot of Onan Hiroshi’s comic strip on Facebook








2018, &type=3&theater (accessed March 27, 2018)


Appendix A Pictures

Picture A-4: Screenshot of the Ambassador’s statement on the official website of Chinese Embassy

Source: “Ambassador Xie Feng: Oppose Hyping-up and Over-interpretation of Allegedly Illegal Chili-planting by Individual Chinese Citizens,” The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, December 16, 2016, (accessed March 27, 2018)






Zijing Apartment Building No. 20 Room 308, Tsinghua University, Haidian District, Beijing 100084, P. R. China


[email protected]



Indonesian (native language), Malaysian (fluent), English (fluent), Chinese (intermediate), Japanese (upper begginer)

EDUCATION 09/2016 – 07/2018

Tsinghua University (CHN) LL.M. in Political Science; Major: International Relations (current GPA 3.5) CSC Scholarship

06/2017 – 07/2017

Fudan University (CHN) Summer School; The Advanced Training Program for Young Diplomatic Talents from One Belt One Road Initiative Countries

08/2009 – 06/2013

University of Indonesia (INA) Bachelor of Political Science (cum laude)

WORK EXPERIENCE 04/2014 – 04/2015

Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Jakarta (INA) Macroeconomist Research on politics, macroeconomic indicators and statistical data of Indonesia

01/2014 – 04/2014

Berita Satu News Channel (INA) Journalist Newsgathering (politics, economy, culture, and sports)

INTERNSHIP 09/2012 – 11/2012

People's Representative Council, Jakarta (INA) Intern; Rep. I Made Urip (PDI-P-Bali) 73



Participant of Tsinghua’s Insight into China – Shenzhen (CHN) The 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up


Participant of Tsinghua’s Enterpreneurship Program for Innovating Digital Economy (CHN) Department of Computer Software Engineering


Participant of the 1st Tsinghua Model Climate Change Conference (CHN)


University of Indonesia’s Bintang Pop Singing Contest (INA) Semi-finalist

2007 – 2010

Editor of English Wikipedia and Indonesian Wikipedia Cars and Indonesia Portal

2003 – 2010

Member of the Kyokushinkai Karate-Do Indonesia (INA)


Office, SPSS 16, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom


Automobile, Karate, Photography, Reading, Running, Singing, Travelling