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China and the Shaping of Indonesia, 1949-1965

Hong Liu

Publication Year: 2011

The interactions and mutual perceptions of China and Indonesia were a significant element in Asia's postcolonial transformation, but as result of the prevailing emphasis on diplomatic and political relations within a Cold War and nation-state framework, their multi-dimensional interrelationship and its complex domestic ramifications have escaped scholarly scrutiny. China and the Shaping of Indonesia provides a meticulous account of versatile interplay between knowledge, power, ethnicity, and diplomacy in the context of Sino-Indonesian interactions between 1949 and 1965. Taking a transnational approach that views Asia as a flexible geographical and political construct, this book addresses three central questions. First, what images of China were prevalent in Indonesia, and how were narratives about China construed and reconstructed? Second, why did the China Metaphor -- the projection of an imagined foreign land onto the local intellectural and political milieu -- become central to Indonesians' conception of themselves and a cause for self criticism and rediscovery? Third, how was the China Metaphor incorporated into Indonesia's domestic politics and culture, and how did it affect the postcolonial transformation, the fate of the ethnic Chinese minority, and Sino-Indonesian diplomacy? Employing a wide range of hitherto untapped primary materials in Indonesian and Chinese as well as his own interviews, Hong Liu presents a compelling argument that many influential politicians and intellectuals, among them Sukarno, Hatta, and Pramoedya, utilized China as an alternative model of modernity in conceiving and developing projects of social engineering, cultural regeneration and political restructuring that helped shape the trajectory of modern Indonesia. The multiplicity of China thus constituted a site of political contestations and intellectual imaginations. The study is a major contribution both to the intellectual and political history of Indonesia and to the reconceptualization of Asian studies, it also serves as a timely reminder of the importance of historicizing China's rising soft power in a transnational Asia.

Published by: NUS Press Pte Ltd

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xii

The research and preparation of this manuscript took me across three continents, on a journey in the course of which I accumulated a great debt of gratitude to many individuals. In the United States, William H. (“Bill”) Frederick, Charles Alexander, Alonzo Hamby, Donald Jordan, Gary Hawes, Benedict Anderson, Hwa-wei Lee, Lian The-Mulliner, Kent Mulliner, Jeff ...


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pp. xiii-xiv

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INTRODUCTION: China in Indonesia: What’s in a Name?

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pp. 1-30

This introduction chapter addresses three central issues intriguingly and intimately related to the studies of postcolonial evolution in Indonesia during the Sukarno era (1949–65): the significance of narratives and discourses about China, whose multifaceted presence and conflicting reception in Indonesia are vividly exemplified by the above quotations; major themes in ..

PART I. (Re)presenting China

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pp. 31-32

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CHAPTER 1. Changing Images of China in Pre-1949 Indonesia

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pp. 33-58

Narratives and discourses of China in post-independence Indonesia were juxtaposed within two contexts: the historical legacy of Indonesia’s longstanding interactions with China and the formations of China-images, especially by modern nationalists who remained intellectually and politically active during the Sukarno era and the significant sociopolitical transformations ...

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CHAPTER 2. Discourses on Chinese Politics

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pp. 59-78

With the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in October 1949, the formal transfer of sovereignty from the Dutch to the Republic of Indonesia two months later, and the establishment of the Sino-Indonesian diplomatic relationship in mid-1950, China-images in Indonesia were to be formulated and presented in an environment substantially different from that of the pre-independence era. Th is chapter is concerned with Indonesians ...

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CHAPTER 3. Social Dynamism and Economic Progress

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pp. 79-105

As people living in a newly independent country facing the exciting yet daunting task of nation-building, Indonesian intellectuals were naturally attracted by experiences of other new nations. It was within this context that China entered Indonesian discourses on society and economy. This chapter examines Indonesians’ perceptions of social and economic developments ...

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CHAPTER 4. Of Culture, Religion and Intellectuals

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pp. 106-124

Th is chapter is concerned with Indonesian perceptions of culture, religion and intellectual freedom (or the lack of it) in China. It addresses three closely related questions: What were Indonesians’ views of the relationship between culture and politics in the PRC? How did they perceive Chinese intellectuals’ role in the nation-building process? What were their observations ...

PART II: Constructing the China Metaphor

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pp. 125-126

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CHAPTER 5. Indonesian Dreams and the “Chinese Realities”: The Sociopolitical and Intellectual Dimensions

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pp. 127-153

We have demonstrated that there was a large quantity of writings and speeches about China aimed at the general and educated public in Indonesia between 1949 and 1965. Collectively, these led to the formation of a diverse range of perceptions and images of the PRC. While most observers regarded China as a newly emerging nationalist

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CHAPTER 6. An “Inner China” and External PRC: The Ethnic and Diplomatic Dimensions

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pp. 154-202

The preceding chapter has examined the close correlation between knowledge about China and specific problems facing Indonesia’s postcolonial transition. Indonesians’ perceptions of the PRC were shaped not only by the sociopolitical environment at home, but by a complex set of ethnic and diplomatic factors both internal and external to the country. Th e existence ...

PART III: Shaping a New Trajectory

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pp. 203-204

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CHAPTER 7. Sukarno, the China Metaphor and Political Populism

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pp. 205-233

... politics have been meticulously documented and extensively analysed.4 Although there is a consensus regarding Sukarno’s significant contributions to Indonesian political development, scholars disagree about the sources of his thought. While some perceive him to be essentially a statesman whose views were shaped by his Western education and by his experiences in the ...

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CHAPTER 8. Pramoedya, the China Metaphor and Cultural Radicalism

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pp. 234-266

Th e previous chapter has established that Sukarno’s favourable perception of China helped shape his vision for Indonesia, which in turn contributed to the country’s profound political changes between 1956 and 1965. Th is chapter shifts our attention to the cultural arena and analyses China’s role in perpetuating Indonesian cultural radicalism during the same ...

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CONCLUSION: China as an Alternative Modernity

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pp. 267-274

This study has examined in detail Indonesian representations of China in the political, socio-economic and cultural arenas that led to the emergence of three sets of master narratives, each with a series of interconnected subnarratives. They depicted China as a purposeful and harmonious society experiencing rapid economic progress, a nationalistic and populist regime ...

APPENDIX: Biographical Notes on Major China Observers in Indonesia, 1949–65

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pp. 275-291


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pp. 292-315


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pp. 316-321

E-ISBN-13: 9789971696023
Print-ISBN-13: 9789971693817

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 26
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: New