Chinese & Asian Stereotype

Jun 6th, 2008, in Opinion, Society, by

An Indonesian-Australian looks at stereotypes of Chinese in Indonesia, Asians in Australia, and western men who like Asian women.

Stereotypes & Generalizations

When I first came to Australia, I went to the Blue Mountains. While sitting in a café near the Three Sisters, I accidentally spilled some ice cream on to my clothes. I went to the bathroom to clean it up at a sink. While I was doing that, an old lady went in, checked out the cubicle -- and then swore at me –

Bloody Asian! You just can't keep things clean, can you?!?

I was gob smacked. I was not even the one using the toilet!

Most of us have experienced narrow mindedness like this in our life, but a lot of the time, we make generalizations about people ourselves. Why?

Indonesian Chinese in Jakarta

I am of Chinese descent, grew up in Jakarta. I really did not realise the "Chinese problem" until I went to Universitas Indonesia to do my bachelor in Politics. I made a few friends in the first few days of University – everything was hunky dory, until one of my new friends asked if I was Chinese. Well, no point of lying, so I said, yes. Next thing I know, I lost my first new friend.

I found what happened really baffling as I was friends with mostly non-Chinese when I was in High School. I rang my friends from High School who then told me that they saw me as my own person first before they saw me as a Chinese, therefore I was OK. But in general, they said they would prefer to have "Indonesian friends".

  • Chinese are rich,
  • Chinese keep to themselves,
  • Chinese are arrogant,
  • Chinese think that money can buy anything.

They said I was not like that, though.

Alrighty – so those are the stereotypes.

Indonesian Women Who Date Foreign Men

After university, I worked for one of the foreign embassies in Jakarta. By chance, I met a very nice Dutch guy and we started going out. It was long before all the movie stars started going out with foreigners and set the trend. If I could choose whom I would fall for, I wish it was another Indonesian person. Going out with this guy was hard, not because of him. But because I was living in Jakarta and Jakartans had in their minds that if you go out with a foreigner, you are a gold digger, an ayam, someone who should not be respected, - it was really difficult.

What made it more difficult, my family was against the relationship, too. They said he was just going to 'use' me. He would leave me when he returns to his home country. No way would he marry me – I was just his holiday romance. I should break up with him at once, or I'd be disowned. I was a disgrace to the family according to them.

Fantastic. This silly thing is also in my own family!!

Australian Men Who Like Asian Girls

Things got more interesting once I realised that I unconsciously do exactly the same thing, judge people according to stereotypes.

It's not difficult being an Asian girl in Sydney these days. Sydney has a huge Asian population and you will see many mixed-racial couples. However, every time I was approached by a non-Asian guy – the first thing that came into mind was

hmm.. is he an AA?

(this is a joke amongst some of my friends, that some guys who are really into Asian girls, or the other way around, should join Asians Anonymous)

"Does he like me for who I am, or does he like me because I look Asian?"

I have a huge chip on my shoulder about this. If a guy dates only Asian girls, no way I'd date him.

Only now I have realised, I have generalised about these guys too. How would I know that they date Asian girls only because of the way they look and other stereotypes that are attached to Asian girls? Maybe they are just like me, I like tall and dark guys, I have my own preferences -- maybe they just find girls with dark hair and darker complexion more attractive?

Well, that was small in the scale of things, but the question I guess, how can I stop making generalisations and treat people as they are? Maybe we will live in a better world if we stop making silly generalisations about others?

134 Comments on “Chinese & Asian Stereotype”

  1. avatar dewaratugedeanom says:

    Aluang said

    Alhumdulillah, horny girl.

    Lotsa ‘wildcatting’ going on in the Sumatran jungle on those oil and gas rigs if you ask me.

  2. avatar Farah says:

    @ Dewa
    Miaww !! (purring and licking my sharp claws…).

  3. avatar nobbb says:

    Try to know more about people around you, and try to understand why they become like that, read the historical documents will make you less stereotyping others.
    We just lack of ‘interest’ to others.
    We are not perfect, our bad side can be fulfill by others (if I allow to say) ethnic.
    We are just like a piece of part of puzzle. to complete the picture, need others piece.

    I am Indonesian, half Chinese half pribumi, my husband is French, and we were studying in Japan and some European countries.

  4. avatar archie says:

    It’s true tough that racial stereotypes exists explicitly in Indonesia.

    Being a ‘pribumi’ Indonesian, I was raised into believing that all racial stereotypes of Indonesian Chinese were true. I never encountered or had any Indonesian Chinese friends during my childhood. The moment I left the country and studied abroad, I realized that the stereotypes that were integrated into my mindset are all false.

    Most of The Indonesian Chinese that I’ve met through out my student life has taught me more life lessons than any Pribumi Indonesians I’ve met. I’m not saying that I look down upon Pribumi Indonesians. But c’mon, I think its time that racial stereotypes and generalization to be removed in our country.

    One thing that I realized about most Indonesians in general: They are ‘narrow-minded’. It’s very obvious. Pride, Arrogance, “lazyness” and Ignorance are the main ingredients in it. On the other hand, our nation consists really-really smart people (I mean cmon, we calculate crazy maths equation without calculator). But then again, the bad behavior contradicts or restrain their true capabilities. I do hope a change can be made in future in removing all these bad aspects of many Indonesians.

    Then again, one thing I love with Indonesian value is its family value. Undoubtedly its one of the best in the world, and finally, when it comes to giving help or support, Indonesians mean it from their heart.

    Well, shall we do something and pray for the change? I think we should lol ;p

  5. avatar uwie says:

    @constant changes

    Kasihan kamu. I never thought that it would happen to someone that definitely college in Universtas Indonesia. I have many Chinese friends actually until now. But about the stereotype that you said, I just know one guy, and he is being hate by everyone.

    First time, when i met my chinese friends, when i talked about chinese issue or call them chinese. they will be cold and not talking to me again. hehehehe. I am not a sensitive person, but I am saying that just because it is like calling sundanese as sundanese, java as java, batak as batak, chinese as chinese, am i right?

    what am i talking about?

    But i hope, that this kind of action is not happen to you again. SMangat!!!

  6. avatar rayner says:

    I would like some information please. I have visited Bali several times and stayed for several months at a time. I don’t even pretend to “know” the culture. I hear lots of sayings, things about the Chinese in Bali. I have read the accounts of the massacres, seen the mass graves.

    I am an anthropologist from Britain. I go to various countries to explore and discover as much as possible the various nurturing practices and social conditions to see which produce a violent as opposed to a peaceful people. As you all probably know, Britain is a covert culture hiding a very violent and frustrating attitude with a veneer of politeness and learned courtesy. When our government goes to war or economics begin to become desperate the underbelly starts to show and extreme violence results.

    From what I know about the Chinese upbringing, their rearing process results in a desire for wealth and power without much concern for any one else except close family and friends. This is largely due to their survival skills have been honed by years of deprivation. They do not smile much.

    The Polynesian culture is largely one of sharing and caring. All food and other things such as shelter and the good things of life are equally shared. This is mainly due to their climate. Adequate rainfall, tropical weather result in four harvests a year with ample food for everyone. It has been a tradition for Polynesians and part of their cultural upbringing not to hoard surplus except for everyone’s survival and to share and care.

    They place little store with academic learning and rely on feats of memory to help them remember their chants. They have a basic premise which is, fours hours of work a day, planting and reaping taro, and other vegetables, gathering fruit growing freely and fishing their once bounteous seas. Fours hours playing on their beloved mudslides, surfing and four hours being intimate and enjoying sex. In Britain the experts reckon that we spend just 2.4 hours a week having sex! That is when a couple first start becoming intimate. From then on it is downhill all the way.

    Now the Hawaiians had the same difficulties with the Asian races, when first the Japanese were brought in by the Americans to work the sugar plantations and then the Chinese and all the other various nationalities to work the plantations, (the Hawaiians refused to work in the plantations,) the main complaint by the Hawaiians was, that the concept of sharing and caring was not practiced by the Asian races. They felt exploited by the Asian fears of survival and shortage of the basic foods.

    Now I gather that the Chinese here in Bali are the principal money lenders. They will loan Balinese who own land various sums and when they come to collect their money they are told that ,”We have spent it. We have not bought a business and made profit which is what the Asian would do with borrowed money. We do not believe in lending money, if we have a surplus we share it out among those less fortunate.) So trouble ensues which on the face of it is a misunderstanding on the part of both the Asian moneylender and the Balinese recipient about financing. If that is the case, education would be the answer for everyone concerned to prevent this unfortunate event from occurring, which can led to violence on all sides. Comments please. Am I mistaken?

  7. avatar Purba Negoro says:

    your comments are accurate but do not justify nor excuse these “Jews of the East” as King Rama of Thailand so eloquently and aptly labelled them.

    Chinese are insatiably greedy and avaricious without peer because they choose to be- not out of need.

    Chinese were imported en masse to supplant and subvert the local native authority.
    In Malaysia, the Britis did the importing.
    in Indonesia it was the Dutch and Chinese bossmen bringing thousands upon thoussands of indentured labourers as well as all kinds of opportunistic economically motivated low-lifes best termed “lumenprole”- pimps, charaltans, peddlars, gamblers, smugglers, drug-runners, opium dealers, etc.

    The Dutch used the willing Chinese as the “compradores”- middlemen between native aristocracy and Dutch Colonial powers.
    Much native land was confiscated by the Dutch, especially from recalcitrant or rebellious Javanese aristocrats and handed to the willing Chinese for cash-crop plantations- including opium and tobacco.
    Chinese were also employed in the colonial administrative system- thereby excluding the native from ever becoming smart or literate enough to through off the Colonial yoke.
    Chinese were also keen tax-collectors, money lenders and also operated toll-roads and toll-gates.

    Realistically, the only solution is expulsion. Then the native can fend for himself or learn to.
    They are majority illegal immigrants and should be deported. If they wish to stay- they should reapply for the legal migration they chose not to undertake and hence pay requisite fees and back fees to undergo the due processs they so keenly seek to buy their way out of.

    The Chinese overtly refuse to pay their fair and legal taxatinon, perpetuate a corrupt government and bureaucracy and will pay their way out of whatever trouble they find themselves in.

    In short- bribery at any cost for lng term goal of profit at any cost.

    yet your assumption abut Balinese being Polynesian in activity or culture is not accurate.
    Balinese are far more intelligent and capable than they let on- perhaps it’s a case of not “can’t pay back” but “won’t pay back”- deliberate defaulting then using village strongman tactics in order to serve up the Chinese some of his own medicine and just desserts?
    Almost a game of mutual extortion.

    Revenge indeed is a dish best served cold.

  8. avatar Ripit says:

    To rimafauzi

    I’m chinese indonesian, muslim, and you looks soooo cute, black top sweater? I would love to have coffee in belgium with you..hehe.

  9. avatar Beb says:

    Wow, loved the article. I’m chinese living in a Jakarta. I attend an international high school so I really have no problems fitting in. I plan to go to the United Kingdom or Canada for my university studies. I can howver relate somewhat to this article. I have never attended a public school or an Indonesian speaking school with Indonesian school. English has always been my first language, and almost all my friends are chinese, or foreigners. I have very little pure Indonesian friends. The stereotypes that you mentioned, ‘Chinese are Rich’. That is true, very rare do you see a chinese attend a public school, and very little do you see an Indonesian attend a International school (except if you are batak) Most chinese people in Indonesia get teased and hated by many of the locals because we hold most of Indonesia’s money. They call us ‘cina’ and stuff like that, and as you can see the riot in 1998, there has been somewhat racial tensions. That is probably the reason you lost your friends when you attended an Indonesian university. I personally wouldn’t be able to bear going to a university in Indonesia. Chinese people in Indonesia have a separate lifestyles compared to locals, we are more of the elite society in Indonesia. But this is not true for all. My brother lives in Melbourne, and when I visited I have been treated with racism for being Asian before, but I really don’t mind. I’m proud of being a chinese.

  10. avatar shawty says:

    Beb r u sure that u nowdays chiness kids that stay in Indonesia?
    i went to univ that most of it chiness, worked in univ lab and taught chiness indo as well and by the time i graduate i worked in company that really mix chiness and local..

    And it wasnt long time ago..
    even now im no longer in indo, here i have great best friend that indo chiness..
    even in univ people asked

    why u both looks different..u both came from indo, right?
    why she looks like chiness more than indo..

    and i said she is indo chiness..

    and she never care about that..
    she is proud to be Indonesian and yes she is chiness..
    face cant lie 🙂

    and some of my 100% indo friends was from International school in Jakarta…

    so i think u must be from some other part of this planet..
    not Indonesia..;)
    or hmmm u 10 years back kids?

  11. avatar Kline says:

    I hate white guys and other guys that dig EAsian girls just for sex, i think they all deserved to die and being burned in hell

  12. avatar Oigal says:

    I hate white guys and other guys that dig EAsian girls just for sex, i think they all deserved to die and being burned in hell

    Ah love rational debate..that would be the white guys or the EAsian girls the deserve to die and burn in hell? How come only EAsian girls how come not the the SEAsian or West Asian or brown guys or balck guys…Sheesh talk about selective..

  13. avatar Annaise says:

    It is rather sad to live in a world with stereotypes. Even though I am not Asian myself, I still find it rather offensive when people begin judging Asians by what they see on TV or learn from movies. It is stupid and shows just how ignorrant some people can be. And not just when Asians are judged, but pretty much when any race is judged. I do not see how now in modern times interracial dating should still be a problem. Generation NeXt (which includes myself) are beginning to have more liberal thoughts and ideas. Some still comply to some of the family’s old fashioned ideas, but hopefully one day in the near future it will not matter what race you are or what country you are from.

  14. avatar coco says:

    if you are asked by indonesian about where you come from, it doesn’t always mean that they are racist. for example, a person whom i’ve just known asked me, and i answered, from Jakarta. then she asked about my parents. i told her, they are from Java. and she asked more specifically,so i answered, my father is from Purwokerto and my mother is from Surabaya. she will find some similarities, though she is not javanese at all. she would say stg like: “ah, yes, i have visited Surabaya and tasted Rujak Cingur” or “oh, so your father is a purwokerto? you can speak javanese banyumasan then?”, etc, etc. it s not abnormal at all. it’s just a way to begin a conversation and to find some similarity. you found it difficult to understand? not at all, it’s just about respecting the other and show some interests about the person whom you talk to. don’t you find it amazing? it is diversity, we acknowledge it, we know it, we recognize it, we accept it, we are happy about it, we are curious about it, we are interested. very simple, isn’t? it’s called open-minded, an understanding, or simply being friendly.
    never judge ppl as if you know them by heart. i quote my favorite author, Pram, “we have to be fair since on the mind”. cheers 😉

Comment on “Chinese & Asian Stereotype”.

RSS feed

Copyright Indonesia Matters 2006-18
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact