The history of the Chinese mining communities in
Kalimantan Barat (West Borneo) is linked in many ways to my own path of life. As
a child in Mindong (East Fujian), I heard already about those who left my
coastal province to make a new life in ¡°Yinni¡±, as Indonesia is still nowadays
called. Later, after graduating from the history department of Fudan University,
I did research on the maritime trade of the city of Quanzhou during the Song and
Yuan periods. Still later I got the opportunity to work in the Netherlands
where, thanks to the presence of vast documentary resources and expert knowledge
on the history of Indonesia, I could undertake the present study.
China and Indonesia have been related in many ways at least since the
ninth century, some six hundred years before the Western sea powers appeared in
the region. The arrival of the Chinese miners in West Kalimantan during the
eighteenth century was on the initiative of the Malay sultans and was unrelated
to the Dutch presence. Only after some fifty years, when the Chinese
communities were already well established and the erstwhile immigrants had taken
root on the island, did they enter into contact and then into conflict with the
Dutch, with the dire consequences these pages will describe.
The present study must be seen as a first step to write the history of the
Chinese mining kongsis. Coming as it does after many case studies, some of which
are nowadays regarded as classics in the field, this work attempts to give a
more complete picture. Yet it cannot pretend to be exhaustive, as many sources,
written as well as oral, in Indonesia have yet to be explored. Nevertheless, I
hope that this study may shed new light on the question and inspire future
students of the history of the Indonesian Chinese to continue this research.
During the past years, I received so much help from all sides that it is
impossible to mention them all. Some exceptions however should be made. In the
first place I would like to name Professor Zhu Weizheng of Fudan University, who
initiated me in the historical sciences. Next comes Professor Zheng Xuemeng,
Vice-President of Xiamen University, who guided my first steps in the study of
the overseas Chinese.
Thanks to Professor Leonard Bluss¨¦ van Oud-Alblas, I obtained the
opportunity to come to the University of Leiden. There, I benefited from the
scholarly environment of the Institute for the History of European Expansion (IGEER)
and the Reseach School CNWS of the Universiteit Leiden. Professor Bluss¨¦
supervised my research.
The staff of the Sinological Institute of Leiden University and the
keepers of its magnificent library have all greatly helped me to complete this
enterprise. Last but certainly not least, the library of the Royal Institute of
Linguistics and Anthropology (KITLV) in Leiden and the Algemeen Rijksarchief (ARA)
at the Hague have been veritable gold mines of information for this study.
My research in the Netherlands was financed by the Royal Dutch Academy of
Sciences (KNAW), the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly
Exchange, and the Leiden University. The Li-Ching Foundation and the Cho Chang
Tsung Foundation both helped me with subsidies for fieldwork. I hope the present
work will satisfy them as to the use I made of their invaluable help.
Among the friends who have helped all these years to acculturate myself in
the Netherlands, to overcome my hesitations and to write my thesis in English,
special thanks go to Sander Hendriks for his assistance in the writing and
Rosemary Robson for the final revision of the manuscript.
Leiden, September 1998