Cina, Orang


An ethnic group that first settled in Batavia. On Java Island, the Chinese people were known as extremely hard working and skilled workers. Every year, Chinese ships arrived in Batavia transporting commodities: tea, silk, porcelain, and others. In addition, the ships also brought Chinese people in fairly large amounts. In Batavia, they usually earned a living by opening stores, processing sugar and wine, had coffee shops, and restaurants. They became paddlers of sampans along the rivers and canals, hawkers and opened grocery stores. In medicine, they also had some expertise. There was a Chinese medicine expert of Christian religion named Issae. People say that he earned 10 real per month as a doctor in the Company office, because apart from being an official, this expert in treating also opened a wine distillery business. Rheumatic medicine was known to be used during this period by the Chinese people.

The first wave Chinese immigrants were not allowed to bring the women overseas. Because of this, mixed marriages occurred producing Chinese-peranakan. There were also first wave Chinese who came from Hokkien, Fukien Province, followed by Kwan-tung province. Those who came from Canton were called Punti, a small group of people living in Kwitang, Batavia. During trade in the colonial era, the Chinese became middlemen between the native citizens who were the majority and the Dutch who were the minority. For this, they were given the opportunity to trade. They were also given facilities to monopolize salt, run pawnshops, and impose tax. 

However, the Company had limitations for the Chinese. Among others, the Chinese were not allowed to own land and their movement was restricted. If they wanted to travel to another place, they had to have a pass or permit. They were only allowed to live in certain areas (Glodok, Pecinan, and others). The Company released a tight immigration regulation for the Chinese. Only those who had legal documents could reside in Batavia.  

Since 1690, Chinese migration had continued to increase reaching 50% of the entire city population. They were dominated by the poor who tried to venture in Batavia. Several attempts made by the VOC to reduce the flow of Chinese migrants were they were required to report to China Captain in 14 days (1683), fine up to 10 rijkdaalders for the ship captains who brought Chinese people, ship crews were prohibited to stay on land, limiting the number of passengers (big ships were only allowed to bring 100 passengers and 80 passengers for small ships). Until 1740, there was a plan made to move the overpopulation to Sri Lanka to work in plantations. However, when rumors spread that the Chinese were on board, they were thrown to the sea in Thousand Islands.    

In 1740, Governor General Valekenier with the approval of the Hindies Council (Raad van Indie) released a decree of which the focus was on suspicious Chinese people (despite of possessing legal documents) would get caught and sent to Sri Lanka to work in the plantations owned by VOC. However, this decree was then misused by some of the Company officials who blackmailed the Chinese people. When the news broke out, many Chinese people left the city and revolted. There were murders and robberies and the Company reinforced with the marines led a counter attack in the Chinese village. This event has been remembered as Chinezenmoord.

Allegedly, the revolt in 1740 was also closely related to the rapid population growth and led to the decline in the price of sugar, which shut down many factories to the point that the already large number of workers could not be accommodated. As a result, criminality, extortion, corruption, and bribery for the sale of a residence permit became rampant. The riots shattered Batavia’s economy. This condition made the Company authorities persuade the Chinese people to reside and reopen their businesses in Batavia, and they promised to protect the Chinese from murders and other crimes. Because of this, the VOC army was appointed to keep them safe and sound. The Chinese people were placed in a certain village or region, which was later known by the name Glodok.   

The rebuilding of the Chinese villages took quite a long time, and during the administration of Governor General Van Imhoff (1743 - 1750), the situation in Batavia calmed down. In 1754, the Company government created special regulations addressed to the Chinese people, among others, the permit to build a prison for Chinese people, permit to reside and move to another place. In 1786, they were also allowed to issue their own marriage certificates, given tasks to research calibration scales and arrange gambling licenses.    

There was also a gambling game that at the time consisted of dice, cards and coins. At times, they would gamble at the side of the road or in European inns. Top was the gambling game famous at the time, which was a game using two dice. There was also a gambling game played by the Chinese and monitored by a Chinese officer who earned 18% of the total gambling revenue. It is estimated that the revenue from gambling and opium sales reached 45.000 Rzjksdealders per year. Some Chinese officers earned 15.000 Rijksdealders (Rida) per year. During the administration of Governor General Daendels, rent for the gambling venues was waived.  

Since 1680, it already became a ritual that every year in front of the home of China Captain, a flag would be raised as a sign of loyalty of the Chinese people and a warning to immediately pay several taxes. This ritual flag raising was on the first date called Hari Kenaikkan Bendera by the Chinese people. Ever since Glodok had become a residential area for the Chinese, they built houses and places of worship based on Chinese architecture. Until today, these buildings still exist and only some of the houses have been demolished and reconstructed in 19th and 20th century European architecture.  

In 1870, Chinese citizens did not only live in Glodok, but many of them lived together with the natives in villages while trading. There were also commodities sold at the village shops of the natives covering basic daily needs such as rice, cooking oil, vegetables, seasoning and daily tools such as machetes, pikes, sickles, hoes, and others. 


Chinese person, known to be a hardworking and skilled worker



Chinese Woman