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Xinhua Silk Road
International Relation

Across China: East China community witnesses vibrant China-Indonesia exchanges

August 03, 2021


Abstract : It was just before noon. Fifty-year-old Fu Ruichang, drenched in sweat, was busy grilling a suckling pig outside his restaurant in Nanshan Community in the city of Quanzhou, east China's Fujian Province.

FUZHOU, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- It was just before noon. Fifty-year-old Fu Ruichang, drenched in sweat, was busy grilling a suckling pig outside his restaurant in Nanshan Community in the city of Quanzhou, east China's Fujian Province.

The dish, traditional cuisine of Bali, Indonesia, would be served to dozens of guests of foreign students.

The Nanshan Community is home to over 500 returned overseas Chinese, especially those from Bali. It is decorated with thriving tropical plants such as palm trees and jack fruit and has houses with red pinnacles, reminding people of the famous travel destination in Southeast Asia.

Last October, with the support of the local government, the Nanshan Community set up an Indonesian food street to further promote the mixed local culture. Fu was among the first to start a restaurant there.

Born and raised in Quanzhou, Fu learned Indonesian culinary skills from his parents, who spent the first few decades of their lives in Bali. His dishes have been praised by several Indonesian guests as very authentic.

Nanshan and Bali share a history of frequent exchanges. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, various ingredients and spices in Fu's restaurant were imported from Indonesia directly.

In ancient times, spices were a major export commodity of Indonesia along the Maritime Silk Road. On July 25, Quanzhou, the starting point of the ancient route, became China's 56th UNESCO World Heritage Site for its prosperity as a maritime hub of the East and Southeast Asia trade network from the 10th to the 14th century.

In 1961, 19-year-old Cai Jinji, along with hundreds of other ethnic Chinese, took a ship from Bali Island and settled down in Quanzhou, the hometown of many overseas Chinese. Since then, Nanshan Community has come into being.

Sixty years later, Cai can still speak fluent Indonesian. After retiring, he began teaching the language to children in Nanshan during school vacations.

Residents in Nanshan also bear Indonesia in mind in many other ways. Many wear batik and sarongs, traditional Indonesian clothes with colorful patterns. In the evening, they dance to Indonesian songs in the community square.

The Indonesian features of Nanshan have made the community a hotspot of bilateral communication. Before the pandemic for around two decades, people from both sides normally visited each other every year.

Fu visited Bali for the first time in 2001. "I learned the language of Indonesia from my parents and, unexpectedly, I could communicate with Balinese people without any barrier," Fu recalled. "We even shared the same accent, and it gave me a sense of familiarity."

Cai had been to Bali more than 10 times since 1996. As a core member of the community's art club, he once led young members to Bali to give performances combining Chinese and Indonesian styles.

"Chinese Indonesians and the overseas Chinese in Indonesia have learned more about modern China from this kind of communication," Cai said. "They admire our lives here in China, especially all the favorable policies for the elderly."

Besides cultural exchanges, Nanshan and Bali helped each other during times of difficulty.

"Last year when the pandemic was severe in China, people in Bali mailed many face masks to us," said Luo Ping, Party secretary of Nanshan Community, adding that the community has sent back many masks this year to Bali to pay back their goodwill. Enditem

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Keyword: cultural exchange Quanzhou Bali

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