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One thing that should not be forgotten is: not all Medan Chinese are evil and cunning. Not all Medan Chinese are kind and honest.

Typical Medan

In Medan, as in most big cities in Indonesia, ethnic Chinese control almost all business sectors. There is almost no type of business that this group does not engage in, from wholesalers to small traders, starting in the automotive, electronics, property sectors, finance, services to the business of garbage recycle and used goods storage.

In the city center, shops belonging to ethnic Chinese line up from end to end. Even on the outskirts, shops belonging to other ethnicities are always tucked away, for example, on Sisingamangaraja Road which is mostly occupied by ethnic Tapanuli and Letjen Djamin Ginting Road with the majority of the Karo tribe, or in the ring road area of Gagak Hitam Road which is now increasingly inhabited by ethnic Acehnese.

The dominance of the Medan Chinese business does not only occur in their hometown. In Jakarta, many Chinese from Medan have become successful entrepreneurs who are respected. Even for the middle class, many Medan Chinese traders dominate certain sectors and areas.

For decades, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, many Medan Chinese migrated to Jakarta. Some of them are serious people who want to find a better future with a career or business. Some of them are people who are "stuck" in Medan and left for Jakarta without a clear destination. Most of them are unemployed and “sam seng” alias thugs.

Apart from these two groups, there are also Medan Chinese traders or businessmen who expand their business to Jakarta, while maintaining their business in Medan or leaving it altogether.

However, wherever they are domiciled, the Medan Chinese still maintain the relationship among themselves. Generally they form their own community and tend to be exclusive. In Jakarta, there are pockets of settlement that are the territory of the Medan Chinese. In general, as with other ethnic tendencies, the Medan Chinese do feel more comfortable and fit in their own habitat.

This trend also occurs in Medan City, which explains why the ethnic Chinese in this city are considered exclusive and close themselves off from other communities. They are people who are "fanatic" of their own group. The group here can mean a small community in which they live and socialize outside the general ethnic Medan Chinese. But it can also mean fellow ethnic Medan Chinese, or even Chinese people as a whole regardless of their region and country of origin.

Yes, Medan Chinese are proud of their identity. They are proud to be Chinese, and they are even more proud to be Medan Chinese. Outsiders may mock, despise or even curse their community, but for them, Medan Chinese is a special community with characters, traits and lifestyles that other communities do not have.

In fact, the Medan Chinese have much in common with other ethnic communities, whether in Medan or other regions and countries: has many tendencies, as well as specifics.

What tends to happen so far in the eyes of outsiders is generalization. That's why getting to know them closely is important. And we will find the fact that Medan Chinese are fun to be friends or even business partners.

Photo by Halim Kosasi on Unsplash


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