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Why more Chinese Indonesians are learning Mandarin, and nurturing their children’s sense of belonging to Chinese culture

为什么越来越多的印尼华人学习普通话,培养孩子对中国文化的归属感?

Their culture was repressed for decades under Suharto’s anti-Chinese policy, but nowadays Chinese Indonesians are learning Mandarin and educating their children in the language. While most identify as Indonesian, China’s rise makes them proud

几十年来,他们的文化在苏哈托的反华政策下受到压制,但如今印尼华人正在学习普通话,用汉语教育他们的孩子。虽然大多数人认为他们是印尼人,但中国的崛起让他们感到自豪。


Are more Chinese Indonesians studying Mandarin and sending their children to Chinese schools to resolve an identity crisis, or because they feel they “look the part”? Research by Chinese national Anna Luli at an Indonesian university tends to suggest both.

更多的印尼华人是为了解决身份危机而学习普通话,并把孩子送到华语学校,还是因为他们觉得自己“很有面子”?印尼一所大学的华人研究所安娜·刘丽(AnnaLuli)的研究表明,两者兼而有之。

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The situation began to change under the presidency of Abdurrahman Wahid (1999 to 2001), who brought the curtain down on the anti-Chinese policy. There is now a more Chinese- inclusive national discourse, and Chinese Indonesians are encouraged to re-embrace their heritage while affirming their sense of belonging to Indonesia.
Some Chinese Indonesians have since made an effort to learn the Chinese language or provide Chinese-language education for their children.

在阿卜杜拉赫曼·瓦希德(1999至2001年)担任总统期间,形势开始发生变化,他为反华政策拉开了帷幕。现在有了一个更具中国包容性的民族对话,印尼华人被鼓励重新接纳他们的传统,同时确认他们对印尼的归属感。此后,一些印尼华人开始努力学习华文,或为子女提供华文教育。



However, it is not easy for Chinese Indonesians to return to their roots, because the parents of most of the generation in school today were born after 1965 and grew up under Suharto’s repressive regime.

然而,对于印尼华人来说,要找回他们的根并不容易,因为如今大多数在校学生的父母都是1965年以后出生,在苏哈托的专制统治下长大的。

Luli, a PhD candidate at the University of Indonesia, is writing a dissertation on the repositioning of contemporary Chinese-Indonesian identity through trilingual education in Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan – major cities with large Chinese populations. Luli and her Chinese-Indonesian husband, Alex Tjandra, are mapping out plans for the future of their eight-month-old daughter, Vanessa.

刘丽是印度尼西亚大学的博士生,他在雅加达、泗水和棉兰(中国人口众多的主要城市)写了一篇关于通过三种语言教育重新定位当代华裔印尼身份的论文。刘丽和她的华裔印尼丈夫亚历克斯·提安德拉正在为他们八个月大的女儿瓦内萨的未来制定计划。

“For now, the plan is that Alex speaks [Bahasa Indonesia] to Vanessa, and I speak Mandarin. When all of us are present, they use Indonesian and I reply in Mandarin. But this dynamic takes time to get used to, and we’re not there yet,” says Luli in fluent Bahasa Indonesia.

“目前,计划是亚历克斯和瓦内萨时说印尼语,女儿和我说普通话。当我们都在场时,他们用印尼语,我用普通话回答。但这种动态需要时间来适应,我们还没有做到这一点,“刘丽用流利的印尼语说道。



Tjandra learned Mandarin as an adult when he studied at university in China, and both he and Luli are fluent in English.

Tjandra成年后在中国大学学习普通话,他和刘丽都能流利地说英语。

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“Meanwhile, English will continue to be an important language among Chinese Indonesians, because it enables them to be on the lookout for other global opportunities.”

“与此同时,英语将继续成为印尼华人的一种重要语言,因为它使他们能够寻找其他全球性的机会。”



Kevin Mardhi and Martha Tanudjaya, who live in Bekasi, a city near the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, are sending their five-year-old daughter Ziva to an English-Chinese school.

kevin mardhi和marthatanudjaya住在靠近印尼首都雅加达的城市bekasi,他们将他们5岁的女儿Ziva送到一所中英文学校。

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Tanudjaya says: “We live in Indonesia, so we believe that Ziva will pick up Indonesian without us needing to make any special effort.” She herself is a native speaker of Bahasa who studied Mandarin from 2006 to 2007 at a Beijing-based language school.

Tanudjaya说:“我们住在印度尼西亚,所以我们相信Ziva会在我们不需要做任何特殊努力的情况下就会印尼语。”她本人是以巴哈萨(Bahasa)语为母语的人,2006年至2007年在北京一所语言学校学习普通话。



Mardhi says he wanted his wife to speak Chinese to Ziva, but Tanudjaya keeps switching to English.

Mardhi说他想让他的妻子和Ziva说中文,但是Tanudjaya一直在用英语。

Giasinta “Livia” Tan, 22, started learning Mandarin in her teens. “My parents have been supportive, especially considering that Chinese has the highest number of speakers in the world. They have never forced it on me or made much effort to link [the importance of learning Chinese] to our heritage,” says Tan.

22岁的谭丽薇(音译)在十几岁的时候就开始学习普通话。他说:“我的父母一直支持我,尤其是考虑到中国人的发言人数是世界上最多的。他们从来没有强迫我,也没有努力把学习汉语的重要性与我们的传统联系起来,“谭说。

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“In university, my mostly non-Chinese friends called me jiejie[older sister, in Chinese] when we were on friendly terms. Looking the part makes me feel responsible for making the effort to learn Chinese,” she says.

“在大学里,当我们友好相处时,我大部分的非华人朋友都叫我洁洁(姐姐,中文)。看着这个角色让我觉得有责任努力学习汉语,“她说。

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Tjandra also cites “looking the part” for his decision to study in China.

Tjandra还引用了“寻找族群身份”作为他在中国留学的决定。

Having grown up in a remote gold-mining community in Papua, the easternmost province in Indonesia, as a child Tjandra felt just as Indonesian as his multicultural friends.

在印度尼西亚最东部的巴布亚省一个偏远的金矿社区长大后,当他还是个孩子的时候,Tjandra和他的多元文化朋友一样觉得自己是印尼人。

But when the craze for Taiwanese drama series Meteor Garden hit Indonesia in the early 2000s, when Tjandra was in his early teens, his friends started telling him he looked more like Dao Ming Si – one of the lead characters – than one of them.

但是当2000年代初台湾戏剧系列片《流星花园》风靡印度尼西亚时,在Tjandra十几岁的时候,他的朋友们开始告诉他,他看起来更像一主角——而不是其中之一。



“They didn’t mean to bully me, but I started being aware of what being Chinese Indonesian implied. Since then I tried hard to fit in with my other Indonesian friends by taking up popular sports, but there was no point.

“When I went shopping, I’d hide my Chinese features for fear that vendors might raise the price,” says Tjandra, who adds that he struggled with his Chinese-Indonesian identity.

“他们并不想欺负我,但我开始意识到印尼华人意味着什么。从那以后,我努力通过参加流行活动来适应我的印尼朋友,但是没有意义。

Tjandra说:“当我去购物的时候,我会隐藏我的中国特色,因为担心卖家会抬高价格。”



Although convinced that studying in China would bring resolution, he found himself struggling anew after he realised that Indonesia remained the place where he felt most at home.

尽管他确信在中国学习会带来决心,但当他意识到印尼仍然是他最有归属感的地方后,他发现自己重新陷入了困境。

Luli says a similar experience to her husband’s is conveyed in On Not Speaking Chinese: Living Between Asia and the West, a memoir by University of Western Sydney Distinguished Professor Ien Ang that focuses on her identity crisis during a visit to Taiwan.

刘丽说,与她丈夫的经历相似的是不会说汉语:生活在亚洲和西方之间。
西悉尼大学著名教授银昂的回忆录,重点讲述了她访台期间的身份危机。“在台湾,我之所以与众不同,是因为我不会说中文;在西方,我之所以与众不同,是因为我看起来像中国人。”

“In Taiwan I was different because I didn’t speak Chinese; in the West I was different because I looked Chinese,” writes Ien.
A Goodreads review concludes the book “[offers] a critique of the increasingly aggressive construction of a global Chineseness, and [challenges] Western tendencies to equate ‘Chinese’ with ‘Asian’ identity”.

Goodreads的一篇评论总结了这本书的结论:“(提出)对全球中国日益激进的建设的批评,”并挑战了西方将‘中国’等同于‘亚洲’认同的趋势”。

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Luli says with a laugh: “I’d imagine it feels like having distant relatives who are a clan of famous billionaires.”

刘丽笑着说:“我想这就像有远亲,他们是一群著名的亿万富翁。”

The couple plan to spend their daughter’s early years in Indonesia before moving to China to enrol Vanessa in six years of strictly regimented Chinese primary school.

这对夫妇计划把女儿的早年时间都花在印尼,然后搬到中国,让瓦内萨进入六年严格管理的中国小学。

“Chinese is a tough language, and we believe tough primary schooling in China will give Vanessa a good academic foundation for life. Then when she hits her teen years and starts searching for her Indonesian identity, we can move back here to give her room to explore,” Tjandra says.

“汉语是一门很难学的语言,我们相信在中国严格的小学教育将给瓦内萨一个良好的学习基础。”然后,当她在十几岁的时候开始寻找她的印度尼西亚身份时,我们可以搬回这里给她空间去探索。“Tjandra说。