During Suharto ’s reign of Indonesia from 1966 to 1998, the Chinese language was virtually eliminated. Publications and schools were shut, meaning Chinese-Indonesians under the age of 55 today are usually unable to read the language. Therefore, the only readers of Indonesia’s Chinese-language newspapers and magazines – which began re-emerging after the dictator’s fall – are usually older Chinese-Indonesians and recent migrants from China, or totoks . Nevertheless, there is still a small, if declining, demand for Chinese newspapers, especially from the older generation who have purchasing power. Pro-Beijing, to an extent In Indonesia , the reporting in all six Chinese-language newspapers – four in Jakarta, one in Surabaya and one in Medan – is regional, if not global in orientation, and the rise of China appears to have had a major impact on them. Since China no longer stresses the communist ideology overseas, many Chinese-Indonesian newspapers find it easier to accept Beijing. Many Chinese newspapers in Indonesia have supported the rise of China provided that this does not come into conflict with Indonesian national interests. In the recent territorial dispute in the Natunas , which saw several Chinese fishing boats and coastguard vessels illegally entering Indonesian waters between late December 2019 and January this year, the Chinese newspapers published reports carrying Indonesian nationalist views. In its front-page report, the Indonesia Shangbao ran an article titled, “Indonesia strongly rejects the claims of China over the Nansha Islands”, which is a translation of the Indonesian foreign ministry statement. The Yinni Xingzhou Ribao and Yinhua Ribao published similar reports. The Guoji Ribao , Indonesia’s largest Chinese-language newspaper, had an article headlined: “Luhut: Don’t play up the Chinese fishing vessels event”. In 2008, Indonesian-Chinese newspapers openly and enthusiastically supported the Beijing Olympics and considered the Games to be the pride of Chinese people, regardless of citizenship. However, when a Beijing official in Jakarta urged Chinese-Indonesians to learn Mandarin “to strengthen their national identity” with China, some Chinese-Indonesian newspapers criticised the official for causing trouble for the Chinese community. Nevertheless, all six Chinese newspapers in Indonesia today support closer economic cooperation with China. With the exception of the Yinni Xingzhou Ribao , all are pro-Beijing when reporting on issues relating to Taipei, Hong Kong, and the US-China rivalry . With regard to the Belt and Road Initiative , Chinese-Indonesian newspapers have also offered their support as it is seen to be parallel with the Indonesian “Maritime Road” (Tol Laut) concept. All the newspapers use mainland Chinese news agencies’ reports on China and international events, save for Xingzhou , which uses its own sources and compiles its own news reports based on Western and China news, hence presenting more balanced reports. Xingzhou has been able to do this because it shares resources with the Kuala Lumpur Xingzhou Ribao . Chinese partners Post-Suharto, lax controls over foreign newspapers has meant that the Chinese-language newspapers in Indonesia have been allowed to partner with media from other nations, including China. The Guoji Ribao was established in 2001 by Ted Siong, a businessman of Indonesian origin who has a newspaper of the same name in the United States. It is worth noting that Guoji Ribao also serves as partner for overseas editions of Beijing’s People’s Daily Overseas Edition , Hong Kong’s Wenhui Bao (Southeast Asian Edition), Hong Kong’s Shangbao and various Chinese-Indonesian “newspapers”. These newspapers are put together with the Guoji Ribao for distribution. Although Indonesia-oriented, it functions as an “international” Chinese newspaper. It seems that the Indonesian government is no longer concerned with the distribution of foreign Chinese language newspapers in Indonesia, not even Beijing’s People’s Daily . Indonesia’s new 75,000-rupiah banknote coins another anti-China hoax In June 2001, a large Taiwanese media group, the United Daily News Group established Shijie Ribao . Initially it had the potential to become a major daily in Jakarta, but its readership continued to decline and the advertisements were not forthcoming. The newspaper closed on March 1, 2007. Yindunixiya Ribao remained the leading Chinese newspaper until 2002 with a circulation of 20,000, while Guoji Ribao with a 10,000 circulation ranked second. In January 2007, Yindunixiya Ribao partnered with Malaysia ’s Sin Chew Jit Poh . The Indonesian name of the new daily remained Harian Indonesia , but the Chinese name was changed from Yindunixiya Ribao to Yinni Xingzhou Ribao (Indonesia’s Sin Chew Daily). The above examples show that post-Suharto, Chinese-language Indonesian newspapers were internationalised, if not globalised in terms of capital, personality and contents. Struggling press While the Chinese-language newspapers generally promote more cooperation with China, their influence on Chinese-Indonesians is limited. Firstly, those born after 1965 do not read Chinese newspapers at all. It is fair to say that the Chinese-language newspapers have not in fact affected the younger generation of Chinese-Indonesians. Secondly, the newspapers, particularly in Jakarta, are facing a lot of problems. Apart from the Guoji Ribao , the other three – Yinni Xingzhou Ribao , Indonesia Shangbao and Yinhua Ribao – are not making money. There are simply not enough subscribers, readers and advertising revenue. One informed source noted that there are about 30,000 Chinese-language newspaper readers and subscribers in Indonesia, the largest group being in Jakarta – and they are all competing for limited resources and readership. Besides, the number of writers and journalists who are able to work for these newspapers is also very limited. One newspaper director has suggested merging the existing newspapers. However, this is unlikely to happen since the groups have very different interests. Can Indonesia’s Chinese-language media be revived? First of all, the profitable Guoji Ribao has no reason to merge with three other papers which are not. Furthermore, the other three are owned and run by different business groups who do not share a common interest. Worse yet, there are personality problems which make a merger impossible. Apart from the Jakarta-based newspapers, there is the Qiandao Ribao in Surabaya, which was recently rescued from being closed down by public donations. In Medan, there is a Chinese daily called Xun Bao. These local newspapers have a small circulation but fulfil the needs of the local Chinese-speaking population. With the rise of China, some Chinese-language teachers have come to Indonesia to teach, and many students from China also study in various private Indonesian universities. These Chinese students or teachers are the new writers, journalists and readers of Chinese-language newspapers in Indonesia. However, as Indonesia continues to have restrictions on new Chinese migrants, the number of Chinese-speaking new migrants remains small. With the decreasing number of Chinese-speakers and readers among Chinese-Indonesians, the Chinese newspapers are unlikely to develop further. Leo Suryadinata is Visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. This article was first published in ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute’s Perspectives 2020/91 issue on August 25, 2020.