Globalization, national identity and citizenship: Dilemma of Chinese Indonesians in Indonesian nation-building

A. Safril Mubah, Sarah Anabarja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper highlights the dilemma of Chinese diaspora in Indonesian nation-building with stressing on the impact of globalization on their search of national identity and citizenship. Since colonial period during which ethnic Chinese migrated from China to Indonesia, Chinese diasporas have been facing problems of identity in Indonesia. During Suharto’s New Order government (1966-1998), assimilation policies were imposed to ethnic Chinese in Indonesia. However, it was difficult for Chinese Indonesians to assimilate with other ethnics in Indonesia, because either they felt as non-indigenous or others accused them of having too much power in economic sector. Although the Indonesian government has dismissed all regulations that differentiate Chinese Indonesians after the fall of Suharto, but new problem appears when ethnic Chinese participate in political arena. For instance, there was resistance from certain groups when a Chinese figure, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, run for Jakarta’s gubernatorial election in 2017. The Chinese Indonesians’ initiatives to get more involved in Indonesian nation-building are challenged by the public perception that they prefer to put loyalty to China than to Indonesia. This perception affects dilemma for Chinese Indonesians to embrace between Chinese national identity and Indonesian citizenship. This paper, therefore, raises a question of what approach that Chinese Indonesians apply to deal with the dilemma. Regarding that globalization has facilitated migration of Chinese diasporas from China to Indonesia and maintaining their strong ties with their homeland, we employ conceptual framework of the relationship between globalization and identity and its impacts on nationhood and citizenship. Their relationship could be explained through three perspectives: (1) differentialism, (2) convergence, and (3) hybridization. We argue that Chinese Indonesians meet a dilemma between national identity and citizenship in the process of Indonesian nation-building, and they respond the dilemma by mixing Chinese cultures and Indonesian cultures to shape hybrid identities. They apply the cultural hybridization approach to be recognized as Indonesian citizen while remaining embrace Chinese cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0002
Pages (from-to)55-102
Number of pages48
JournalTamkang Journal of International Affairs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Chinese Indonesians
  • Citizenship
  • Cultural hybridization
  • Indonesian Nation-building
  • National identity
  • Nationhood


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