Chinese Indonesians | demographics


A two-sided horizontal bar graph. Bars on the left are colored blue; bars on the right are colored pink.
During the 2000 census, the peak of the ethnic Chinese population pyramid occurred in the 15–19 age group.[86] The male population is shown in blue, and the female is in pink.

Indonesia's 2000 census reported 2,411,503 citizens (1.20 percent of the total population) as ethnic Chinese.[d] An additional 93,717 (0.05 percent) ethnic Chinese living in Indonesia were reported as foreign citizens, mostly those of the People's Republic of China and Republic of China, who may not be able to pay the cost of becoming an Indonesian citizen.[87] Because the census employed the method of self-identification, those who refused to identify themselves as ethnic Chinese, or had assumed the identity of other ethnic groups, were recorded as non-Chinese.[5] It is also likely that some did not identify themselves for fear of repercussions in the wake of anti-Chinese violence in 1998,[88] as several census stated that there are around 6 to 7 millions Chinese living in Indonesia.

Past estimates on the exact number of Chinese Indonesians relied on the 1930 Dutch East Indies census, which collected direct information on ethnicity.[89] This census reported 1.23 million self-identified ethnic Chinese living in the colony, representing 2.03 percent of the total population, and was perceived to be an accurate account of the group's population.[90] Ethnic information would not be collected again until the 2000 census and so was deduced from other census data, such as language spoken and religious affiliation, during the intermediate years.[91] In an early survey of the Chinese Indonesian minority, anthropologist G. William Skinner estimated that between 2.3 million (2.4 percent) and 2.6 million (2.7 percent) lived in Indonesia in 1961.[83] Former foreign minister Adam Malik provided a figure of 5 million in a report published in the Harian Indonesia daily in 1973.[92] Many media and academic sources subsequently estimated between 4 and 5 percent of the total population as ethnic Chinese regardless of the year.[91] Estimates during the 2000s have placed the figure between 6 and 7 million,[93] and the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission of the Republic of China estimated a population as high as 7.67 million in 2006.[94]

High angle view of a street lined with two and three story structures. The street is filled with crowds, including horse-drawn and hand-pulled carriages.
The Chinese district of Medan, North Sumatra, in 1925; The city is a large center of ethnic Chinese population on the island.
The Chinese New Year celebration in Chinese Town in Senapelan, Pekanbaru, Riau.

According to 2010 population census, 22.3 percent of Chinese Indonesians lived in the capital city of Jakarta, located on the island of Java. When the island's other provinces—Banten, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, and East Java—are included, this population accounted for around half (51.8 percent) of all Chinese Indonesians.[1] This data doesn't count the number of ethnic Chinese that have foreign citizenship. West Kalimantan have about 8.15 percent of population is ethnic Chinese, followed by Bangka–Belitung Islands (8.14 percent), Riau Islands (7.66 percent), Jakarta (6.58 percent), North Sumatra (5,75 percent), Riau (1.84 percent). In each of the remaining provinces, Chinese Indonesians account for 1 percent or less of the provincial population.[95] Most Chinese Indonesians in North Sumatra lived in the provincial capital of Medan; they are one of major ethnic groups in the city with the Bataks and Javanese people, but in the province, they constituted only a small percentage because of the relatively large population of the province, the sizeable Chinese population also presence in Binjai, Tanjungbalai and Pematangsiantar city.[96] Bangka–Belitung, West Kalimantan, and Riau are grouped around the hub of ethnic Chinese economic activity in Singapore and, with the exception of Bangka–Belitung, these settlements existed long before Singapore's founding in 1819.[97]

The ethnic Chinese population in Indonesia grew by an average of 4.3 percent annually between 1920 and 1930. It then slowed owing to the effects of the Great Depression and many areas experienced a net emigration. Falling growth rates were also attributed to a significant decrease in the number of Chinese immigrants admitted into Indonesia since the 1950s.[89] The population is relatively old according to the 2000 census, having the lowest percentage of population under 14 years old nationwide and the second-highest percentage of population over 65. Their population pyramid had a narrow base with a rapid increase until the 15–19 age group, indicating a rapid decline in total fertility rates. This was evidenced by a decline in the absolute number of births since 1980. In Jakarta and West Java the population peak occurred in the 20–24 age group, indicating that the decline in fertility rates began as early as 1975. The upper portion of the pyramid exhibited a smooth decline with increasing population age.[98] It is estimated that 60.7 percent of the Chinese Indonesian population in 2000 constitutes the generation that experienced political and social pressures under the New Order government. With an average life expectancy of 75 years, those who spent their formative years prior to this regime will completely disappear by 2032.[99]

According to the last 2010 population census, the self-identified Chinese Indonesian population is 2,832,510. There is a growth of 17.5% from 2000 census.

Emigrant communities

New migrants began moving from Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries to more industrialized regions around the world in the second half of the 20th century. Although these migrants possessed a Chinese heritage, they were often not identified as such; this trend has continued into the modern day.[100] There have been several independent estimates made of the Chinese Indonesian population living in other countries. James Jupp's The Australian People encyclopedia estimated that half of over 30,000 Indonesians living in Australia in the late 1990s are ethnic Chinese, and they have since merged with other Chinese communities.[101] In New Zealand, many migrants reside in the suburbs of Auckland after some 1,500 sought asylum from the 1998 upheaval, of which two-thirds were granted residency.[102]

Australian scholar Charles Coppel believes Chinese Indonesian migrants also constitute a large majority of returned overseas Chinese living in Hong Kong. Though it is impossible to accurately count this number, news sources have provided estimates ranging from 100,000 to 150,000,[e] while the estimate of 150,000 was published in the Hong Kong Standard on 21 December 1984. (Coppel 2002, p. 356).

Of the 57,000 Indonesians living in the United States in 2000, one-third were estimated to be ethnic Chinese.[103] Locally knowledgeable migrants in Southern California estimate that 60 percent of Indonesian Americans living in the area are of Chinese descent. Their families usually resided in Indonesia for several generations and may have intermarried with "pribumi".[104] In Canada, only a minority of the emigrant Chinese Indonesian community speak Chinese. Although families are interested in rediscovering their ethnic traditions, their Canadian-born children are often reluctant to learn either Indonesian or Chinese.[105]

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