Image of China as an anti-Muslim “Other” in the Indonesian media

Image of China as an anti-Muslim “Other” in the Indonesian media

Kyrchanoff M.V.,

Voronezh State University, Voronezh, Russia,

elibrary_id: 342670 |

Article received: 2022.02.22. Accepted: 2022.11.30

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2024.01.12

For citation:

Kyrchanoff M.V. Image of China as an anti-Muslim “Other” in the Indonesian media. – Polis. Political Studies. 2024. No. 1. P. 163-173. (In Russ.). EDN: GRPAIS


The purpose of this study is to analyze, using Indonesian media contents, images of China as an Alien and as a country pursuing a policy that is interpreted in Indonesia as anti-Islamic. The novelty of the study lies in the analysis of modern nationalist political imagination in the discursive space formed by the Indonesian media. The author comes to the conclusion that in this imaginary space negative images of China are formed, which subsequently circulate in it and are purposefully promoted with the aim of constructing the image of China in Indonesia as a universal ideological and political Other. The article shows that 1) the Indonesian nationalist imagination, through the media, actively reproduces negative images of China as a subject of the policy of assimilation of Muslim minorities on the territory of the PRC, 2) in the discourses of Indonesian expert and analytical communities, narratives are promoted about the authoritarian nature of the political regime of the PRC and its policies aimed at politicizing Islam and its subsequent integration into the functioning mechanism of this regime. Such a policy is interpreted in Indonesia as ideologically limiting the activities of Chinese Muslims and putting them under the control of communist ideology, which gives grounds to characterize the PRC as a political and ideological Other. Narratives that highlight the unresolved problems between the China state and Islamic communities play an important role in promoting the image of the PRC as an undemocratic and authoritarian state. The results of the study suggest that the evolution of anti-Chinese narratives and the further promotion in the Indonesian political imagination of the image of China as a universal Other and a state politically and ideologically alien to Islam will strengthen the legitimation of anti-Chinese phobias and stereotypes traditional for Indonesian society at both the political and religious levels.

Indonesia, images of China, images of the Other, anti-Chinese phobias, discourses, narratives, political stereotypes, political imagination, Islam, Chinese Muslims, Indonesian Islamic nationalism.


Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.

Billé, Fr. (2015). Sinophobia: anxiety, violence, and the making of Mongolian identity. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Coppel, Ch. (2008). Anti-Chinese violence in Indonesia after Soeharto. In L. Suryadinata (Ed.), Ethnic Chinese in Contemporary Indonesia (pp. 117-136). Singapore: Singapore Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Ewertowski, T. (2021). Images of China in Polish and Serbian travel writings (1720-1949). Leiden: Brill.

Herlijanto, J. (2017). Public perceptions of China in Indonesia: the Indonesia national survey. Perspective. Researchers at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.

Hobsbawm, E., & Ranger, T. (1983). The invention of tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Holsti, O. (1967). Cognitive dynamics and images of the enemy. Journal of International Affairs, 21(1), 16-39.

Holsti, O. (1970). The “operational code” approach to the study of political leaders: John Foster Dulles’ philosophical and instrumental beliefs. Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue canadienne de science politique, 3(1), 123-157.

Jervis, R. (1989). The logic of images in international relations. New York: Columbia University Press.

Jervis, R. (2008). Nuclear weapons, explaining the non-realist politics of the Bush administration and US military presence in Europe. Theory Talk, 12.

Kaplowitz, N. (1990). National self-images, perception of enemies, and conflict strategies: psychopolitical dimensions of international relations. Political Psychology, 11(1), 39-82.

Karásková, I. (2021). China’s image in the Czech Republic. Media reflection of elite policies. In S. Rowley (Ed.), European Perceptions of China and Perspectives on the Belt and Road Initiative (pp. 171-187). Leiden: Brill.

Legge, J.D. (2011). Intellectuals and nationalism in Indonesia. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing.

Onuf, N. (2015). Evolution of social constructivism, turns in IR, and a discipline of our making. Theory Talk, 70. URL.:

Ratuva, S. (2021). The politics of imagery: understanding the historical genesis of Sinophobia in Pacific geopolitics. East Asia, 39, 13-28.

Simons, J. (2000). Ideology, imagology, and critical thought: the impoverishment of politics. Journal of Political Ideologies, 5(1), 81-103.

Thung, Ju Lan. (2017). Chinese Indonesians and China-Indonesia relations: a juxtaposition of identity and politics. Masyarakat Indonesia, 43(2), 197-206.

Vlaeminck, E. (2021). China’s image in Belgian media. Between fascination and fear. In S. Rowley (Ed.), European Perceptions of China and Perspectives on the Belt and Road Initiative (pp. 188-204). Leiden: Brill.

Weizman, E. (2015). Architectural-Image complex, forensic archeology and policing across the desertification line. Theory Talk, 69.

Witchard, A. (2014). England’s yellow peril: Sinophobia and the Great War. London: Penguin.

Zheng, T. (2013). ‘East or West, home is best’? An examination of European images of China as the cultural other. In K. Sandrock, & O. Wright (Ed.), Locating Italy. East and West in British–Italian Transactions (pp. 59-92). Leiden: Brill.

Chernobrov, D.V. (2012). Evolution of the other in modern conflict: a constructivist experience of conflict. MGIMO Review of International Relations, 6, 47-53.

Karabulatova, I.S., & Lagutkina, M.D. (2021). The image of China in the linguistic-informational model of modern media discourse (based on Russian and Chinese mass media). Bulletin of the Northern (Arctic) Federal University. Series: Humanitarian and Social Sciences, 21(4), 40-53.

Kirchanoff, M.V. (2009). Natsionalizm i modernizatsiya v Indonezii v XX veke [Nationalism and modernization in Indonesia in the 20th century]. Voronezh: Nauchnaya kniga.

Kirchanoff, M.V. (2013). “Plachushchie po neskonchaemomu miru”: kolonializm, natsionalizm i transkul’turalizm. Problemy postkolonial’nogo analiza. Voronezh: Nauchnaya kniga.

Kirchanoff, M.V. (2022). Perception of communism in сontemporary Indonesian politics of memory: between “the return” and “the oblivion”. Oriental Courier, 2, 25-35.

Severskaya, O., & Saakyan, L. (2020). Figure, image, reputation of politicians in the language and the actual political discourse (a corpus research experience). Przegląd Wschodnioeuropejski, XI(2), 357-371.

Scherbinina, N.G. (2013). The visual image and optical political regime. Tomsk State University Journal of Philosophy, Sociology and Political Science, 3, 67-69.

Valitov, A.A. & Gerasimova, V.A. (2020). Image of the Jews in the records of Siberian pilgrims as a factor for determining Russian identity. Tomsk State University Journal of History, 64, 149-155.

Voronina, N.I. (2011). Ethos “we” and self-identification problems. Tomsk State University Journal of Cultural Studies and Art History, 2, 5-11.

Content No. 1, 2024

See also:

Krestinina Ye.S.,
Image of «the Other» in the structure of modern identity of russian society. – Polis. Political Studies. 2011. No4

Pishcheva T.N., Vinogradova N.S., Nedova A.D.,
The image of Russia through prisms of political communications. – Polis. Political Studies. 2010. No4

Round Table of the «Polis» Journal, Rakitiansky N.M., Smulkina N.V., Palitay I.S., Zatonskikh A.V., Evgenyeva T.V., Selezneva A.V., Cherdantzeva A.M., Nikiforov A.R., Bogdan I.V., Ahmatnurova S.F., Samarkina I.V., Bukreyeva O.V., Shestopal Ye.B., Shcherbinin A.I., Shcherbinina N.G., Yanitzky M.S., Titov V.V.,
Political behavior: unconscious mechanisms and their rationalization. – Polis. Political Studies. 2013. No6

Lukin A.V.,
The Image of China in Russian Social Consciousness: Continuity and Evolution. – Polis. Political Studies. 2004. No6

Radina N.K.,
“Imagined Geopolitics” in the Russian Media Discourse on Coronavirus. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No1



   2024      2023      2022      2021   
   2020      2019      2018      2017      2016   
   2015      2014      2013      2012      2011   
   2010      2009      2008      2007      2006   
   2005      2004      2003      2002      2001   
   2000      1999      1998      1997      1996   
   1995      1994      1993      1992      1991