Reassessing China’s Soft Power in Indonesia: A Critical Overview on China’s Cultural Soft Power

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The increasing cooperation between Indonesia and China within the last two decades is the gradual evolvement of reconciliation since the resumption of the relationship between these two countries in August 1990. During the course of reconciliation, China has been trying to enhance its positive image in Indonesia as an effort in eliminating suspicion and negative perception towards China in Indonesian public discourse. This article tries to scrutinize and problematize China’s efforts in increasing its positive image abroad using cultural resources it has within the soft power conceptual framework. We argue that China has been eagerly balancing its soft p\ower strategy by focusing on cultural rapprochement to gradually eliminate suspicion and negative perception that still live in Indonesia public discourse. Assuming that the Chinese government is aware that its relations with Indonesia has not been fully resumed caused by the negative perceptions by Indonesians, it must use cultural rapprochement as a substitutive element within its foreign policy. This is a systematic literature review study that focusing its inquiry on Chinese diplomacy in education and Muslim community, Confucius Institute, and Chinese-Indonesian business community as a case to enhance our conceptual framework of China’s cultural soft power. It concludes that the instrumentalization of cultural diplomacy as a substitution of China’s economic agenda in Indonesia was partly successful in changing Indonesia’s policy making process, as can we have seen in alignment of Indonesia regulations in favour of China’s BRI in many infrastructure projects but ineffective in shifting the suspicious and sensitive Indonesian public perception.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2178585
JournalCogent Arts and Humanities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Chinese public diplomacy
  • Chinese soft power
  • Confucius Institute
  • cultural rapprochement
  • Indonesia-China relations


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