A popular conspiracy theory in Indonesia these days is that President Joko Widodo is secretly a puppet of the Chinese and that he is selling out Indonesia for his master’s economic benefit. The “evidence” for this conspiracy theory is made up of other conspiracy theories, like the one that Jokowi is secretly protecting Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in his blasphemy case (there were once rumors that 500 Chinese had flown in to protect Ahok from an FPI rally) and that the newly released rupiah designs resemble the Chinese yuan.
Then there was the “chili conspiracy”, which saw even local media outlets accusing China of using a “biological weapon” against Indonesia, after four Chinese nationals were arrested for planting imported chili seeds contaminated with a bacteria .
Many of these fears are fueled by Indonesian economic anxiety and the idea that Chinese workers are going to start coming to Indonesia and taking over precious Indonesian jobs (the same paranoia that has fueled many of the new regulations making it harder for companies to hire foreign workers in Indonesia).
Recently that paranoia has led to the creation of a new conspiracy exemplifying those fears – that there are already 10 million Chinese workers ready in Indonesia, stealing work from locals.
President Jokowi is apparently furious about these rumors and has asked the police to investigate and prosecute the people spreading them.
“It is the police’s responsibility, it’s their duty. But it is disturbing and it has to be dealt with,” Jokowi said after attending an event in Karawang, West Java, today as quoted by Kompas.
The president speculated that the rumors came about after he recently declared that he wanted to attract 10 million Chinese tourists to come to Indonesia.
According to him there were only 21,000 Chinese citizens working in Indonesia at the moment. China’s labor in Indonesia at this time numbered only 21,000.
“Many have said that the number of Chinese that have entered Indonesia is 10 million, 20 million also, what are they counting? The amount [of Chinese workers in Indonesia] is 21,000. Very small. Do not add too many zeroes,” Jokowi said.