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Indonesian Chinese Community

The remarkable dive into the Indonesian-Chinese Community

Cultural acculturation between Chinese people and Indonesian

Indonesian Chinese community

Source: Unsplash.com

The Indonesian-Chinese Community has been about multiculturalism in Indonesia since hundreds of years ago

Indonesia, a diverse archipelago known for its vibrant culture,

A home to a significant Indonesian-Chinese community that has played a crucial role in shaping the nation’s cultural landscape.

In this article, we will delve into the history, traditions, and contributions of the Chinese in Indonesia,

highlighting the unique fusion of Chinese heritage with Indonesian identity.

The Chinese Diaspora

Indonesian chinese community

Source: Brooking Institution

Chinese people in Indonesia are “Chinese Diaspora” or overseas Chinese, namely people with Chinese ancestry who live outside China.

This term applies to people born in China and of Chinese descent who are permanent citizens or temporarily residing in a foreign country.

Thailand and Indonesia have the largest Chinese diaspora, recording 9.3 million and 7.6 million people respectively.

Most of the Chinese diaspora, they are spread across Southeast Asia.

Chinese community in Indonesia

History and Heritage

The presence of Chinese communities in Indonesia dates back centuries, with early Chinese settlers arriving for trade and cultural exchange.

Over time, these communities integrated into Indonesian society while preserving their distinct traditions.

The rich history of the Chinese in Indonesia reflects a harmonious blend of cultures, creating a unique and diverse tapestry.

The History of Chinese people in Indonesia

The wave of immigration from the north was the beginning of the arrival of Chinese people to Indonesia

The arrival of ethnic Chinese to the Dutch East Indies could not be separated from the rise and fall of dynasties in China

which triggered a wave of Chinese emigration to the south, especially to Southeast Asia, including Indonesia.

During the Dutch colonial period, many Chinese came as plantation workers or tin mine workers.

This migration reached its peak in the early 1900s, with the entry of around half a million ethnic Chinese into the Dutch East Indies.

Chinese People and the Spread of Islam in Indonesia

Indonesian Chinese Community

Source: The Diplomat

The arrival of Chinese people in Indonesia has actually been happening for a long time, even since the Majapahit kingdom

During the heyday of the Ming Dynasty in the early 15th century, there were seven major expeditions undertaken around the world.

One of them, led by Sam Po (Cheng Ho), managed to visit Palembang (South Sumatra).

It was reported that Sam Po brought hundreds of Chinese workers including a large number of Yunan Muslims.

After successfully occupying Palembang, Sam Po built the first Chinese Muslim community in Indonesia.

Then a number of Chinese Muslim communities were successively established in various places in Indonesia,

including Batavia, Cirebon, Lasem, Tuban, Gresik, and Mojokerto.

This was the beginning of the growth of the Chinese Muslim community in Indonesia

While building Muslim communities in many places, Chinese people began to take part in the community life of the Majapahit Kingdom at that time.

Cultural Celebrations

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Chinese community in Indonesia is its vibrant celebration of cultural festivals.

Chinese New Year, also known as Imlek, is widely observed, featuring colorful parades, traditional performances, and elaborate feasts.

These celebrations not only showcase the Chinese heritage but also contribute to the multicultural fabric of Indonesia.

Chinese Festivals in Indonesia

Indonesian Chinese Community

Source: RTE

Contributions to Indonesian Society:

The Indonesian-Chinese community has made significant contributions to Indonesia’s social, economic, and cultural spheres.

From successful entrepreneurs to influential figures in various fields,

the Chinese in Indonesia have played a pivotal role in the nation’s development.

Exploring these contributions provides insights into the dynamic integration of diverse communities within the Indonesian context.

Chinese contributions to Indonesia

Chinese people have lots of contributions to Indonesia and it makes Indonesia more colorful here are some contributions

Chinese-Indonesian cuisine

Indonesia is renowned for its diverse and delectable cuisine,

and the Chinese community has left an indelible mark on the country’s culinary landscape.

From street food to fine dining, Chinese-Indonesian dishes such as bakmi (noodles), Bakso (meatballs), and dim sum have become beloved staples.

Discovering the flavors of Chinese-Indonesian cuisine is a culinary adventure for locals and tourists alike.


Chinese batik is a type of batik cloth made by Chinese and Peranakan people (Chinese descendants born in Indonesia)

which displays several motifs of Chinese mythological creatures.

The development of Chinese Batik is also found in both coastal and inland areas with nuances influenced by the environment.

These areas are Cirebon, Pekalongan, Lasem, Demak and Kudus


For Indonesians, several Chinese phrases or vocabulary are commonly employed in everyday speech, notably about financial values.

House Architecture

Chinese cultural influences can also be found in the field of architecture

Many ancient houses in the Batavia area were built with architectural styles and models that adopted the Chinese housing style

Performing Arts

Source : Indonesia Kaya

In Indonesia, there are two performing arts that are strong in Chinese culture.

Namely lion dance and Wayang Potehi ( Potehi’s Puppet )

The lion dance is usually performed at the Cap Go Meh celebration and is an expression of gratitude for the blessings received throughout the year.

Meanwhile, Potehi wayang is a typical wayang from southern China

Immigrants from China brought this art to various regions in Indonesia and has become part of traditional art in Indonesia

Harmony and Challenges

While the Indonesian-Chinese community has greatly contributed to Indonesia’s cultural mosaic,

there have been historical challenges, including periods of discrimination and social tensions.

However, in recent decades, efforts to promote inclusivity and diversity have helped foster greater Chinese-Indonesian harmony among different ethnic and cultural groups in Indonesia.

Embrace multicultural heritage

The Chinese community in Indonesia is an integral part of the nation’s identity, contributing to its cultural richness and diversity.

Exploring the history, traditions, and contributions of the Chinese in Indonesia unveils a captivating narrative of coexistence and collaboration.

As Indonesia continues to embrace its multicultural heritage, the Chinese community’s story remains a vital chapter in the nation’s evolving narrative.



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