Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) significantly contributes to the heightening of cultural interaction, mutual understanding and respect of differences among China and countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative. Many countries have forged close and friendly relations with China. According to a report released by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 108 documents were signed between China and BRI related countries from 2013 to 2018, involving bilateral cooperation in cultural sector.Along with improved connectivity, mechanisms have been established to promote cultural cooperation between China, which led to the formation of the Silk Road alliances of theatres, museums, art festivals, libraries, and art museums, with 319 international administrations from 88 countries and regions involved as of April 2019.

Cultural Relationship between China and Indonesia

China and Indonesian cultural exchange share a long history. Mohammad Yamin, an Indonesian historian says that the influence of Chinese culture on Indonesian culture dates back to the Stone Age. Since years, Sino-Indonesian cultural exchange Religion and language were the main forms of communication. Sino-Indonesian exchange flourished in sports, culture, religion, language, tourism, art and other fields since 1950.

Confucius Institutes (CI): A medium

China has embarked on a massive global project to improve cooperation between China and other countries. Since 2004, it has supported the establishment of about 548 Confucius Institutes (CI) in 154 countries to promote Chinese language and culture. The CI is viewed as a deliberate attempt to use the Chinese language and culture to win the hearts and minds of other countries, to give others a better understanding of China. First Confucius Institute in Indonesia was established at the Jakarta Chinese Language Teaching Center in 2007. Zhang Chengyi, Vice President of Hainan Normal University then said that in spite of the difference between China and Indonesia in terms of politics, economics and culture fields, through the platform of the Confucius Institute both the countries can further deepen the mutual understanding, seek common ground while reserving differences to obtain common development. The Confucius Institute is known to be a cultural bridge for exchanges between the two sides.

Confucius Institute was brought to Indonesia by the partnership of The Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) and The Jakarta Chinese Language Teaching Center. Hanban website states that there are only two schools with Confucius Classroom in Indonesia at present. There are six established classes as collaborations between six Chinese universities and four Indonesian public universities and two Indonesian private universities. Indonesia is home to the largest population of Chinese descent in Southeast, thus the Indonesian and Chinese governments with the cooperation established CI. Hasanuddin Universit, a public university, started the collaboration with the Nanchang University of China in 2011 and since then has become actively involved in promoting Chinese language and student exchange to China. In the period 2011–16, the university sent 2000 students to China under several exchange programs, summer camp arrangements and Chinese scholarships. It also operates a ‘Chinese Corner’ on the campus and helps to conduct Chinese language learning as an elective course at the Faculty of Cultural Science. The CI routinely holds cultural events to which it invites and involves the broader Chinese-Indonesian community and their social organizations.

China has become one of the top destinations for Indonesians to pursue their education. As per the report published in 2017 by the Chinese Embassy in Indonesia that the number has reached 14,000 for students to peruse education in China. Most of these students study Chinese language and literature, several other students are also showing interest in other fields, including medicine, industry and technology.

China’s cultural efforts in Indonesia cannot be ignored and Confucius Institutes contributed to the growing ties between the two countries. The instances above still deliver the evidence that the relation between China and Indonesia is not only limited to the economic sphere but are beginning to expand into cultural realms.

Source: Research Based