Seminar: Dragon or Panda: The Indonesian Elites’ Perception of China and Sino-Indonesia Relations



About the Seminar

Since the beginning of this century, the relations between Indonesia and China have become much closer. Trades between the two countries have significantly increased, especially after the strategic partnership agreement between the two countries was signed in 2005. In recent years, the incoming investments from China have also grown unprecedentedly, especially in the mining and infrastructure sectors. Cultural and political relations between these two Asian countries have also improved, as exemplified by the establishment of several Confucius Institutes in Indonesia, and the mutual visits between a number of Indonesian political parties and the Chinese Communist Party.

Yet critical voices about China and its relation with Indonesia are apparent in certain groups of Indonesians, who may be broadly defined as the elites. Suspicions about China’s agenda to dominate Indonesia through its participation in Indonesia’s infrastructure projects, and in collaboration with the ethnic Chinese big businessmen and politicians, are spread widely, especially among those who resent the Indonesian government’s close relations with China. What are the basis for these suspicions? Who are the groups of elites who believe in these views? How do the elite members of the groups who support President Joko Widodo see China and the latest development of its relations with Indonesia? This presentation will attempt to discuss these questions.


About the Speaker

Johanes Herlijanto is a Visiting Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. He earned his PhD in anthropology at Macquarie University, Sydney and Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.
Johanes previously taught in the Department of International Relations, Bina Nusantara University, Jakarta, and in the Chinese studies program at the University of Indonesia, Depok.

His publications include, “‘Search for Knowledge as Far as China!’ Indonesian Responses to the Rise of China”, in Chinese Encounters in Southeast Asia, How People, Money, and Ideas from China Are Changing A Region, Pal Nyiri and Danielle Tan (eds.) (Seattle: University of Washington Press, Forthcoming). He also wrote an ISEAS Perspective on “What Does Indonesia’s Pribumi Elite Think of Ethnic Chinese Today?”, and “Cultivating the Past, Imagining the Future: Enthusiasm for Zheng He in Contemporary Indonesia” in Zheng He and the Afro-Asian World, Chia Lin Sien & Sally K Church (eds.) (Singapore: Melaka Museums Corporation [PERZIM] and International Zheng He Society, 2012). He is currently working on the perception of China and the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, especially among the pribumi Indonesian political and economic elite.


For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 26 July 2016.


Jul 27 2016


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2