Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

The Pao An Tui and the Indonesian revolution. Chinese politics and responses to anti-Chinese violence, 1945-1949

How did the Chinese in Indonesia respond to anti-Chinese violence and changing political conditions during the Indonesian revolution?

2014 - 2018

This PhD project is about the role of the Chinese minority during the Indonesian revolution, 1945-1949. It focuses on the Pao An Tui, the self-defense force raised by the Chinese to protect their community against anti-Chinese violence. Building on previous research for my MA thesis, I examine how the establishment of the PAT affected the relations among different groups of Chinese and between the Chinese and the Indonesians. The PAT, cooperating with the Dutch and affiliated with the Kuomintang in China, was increasingly challenged by Chinese communist sympathizers who supported Indonesian independence. I aim to unravel this entwinement of local Chinese responses to the revolution and overseas Chinese politics.

PAT units were established in several cities with substantial Chinese populations, but I focus specifically on the PAT in Medan, North Sumatra. As a paramilitary organisation, the PAT cooperated closely with the Dutch military and played an important role in defending the city against Indonesian attacks. As a political organization affiliated with the Kuomintang in China, the PAT established itself as the preeminent leader of the Chinese community and assumed the role of the police within the Chinese district. Not all members of the community supported the PAT as wholeheartedly however. The power of the PAT was increasingly challenged by sympathizers of the Chinese communist party, who opposed the confrontational tactics of the PAT and sought to establish more friendly relations with the Indonesians instead. Engaging with recent debates on transnationalism and diaspora, I aim to unravel the entwinement of local Chinese responses to the revolution and overseas Chinese politics.

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