At the end of October, the Indonesian government launched the 10-year visa scheme called the “Second Home visa.” The new visa program is a bid from the government to attract foreign investors, with its trump card – Bali. 

However, Radio Free Asia reported that the move had received criticism from many locals for they fear a large influx of Chinese to the country. Ma Youyou, an overseas Chinese living in Indonesia for decades, told the news outlet that Indonesians do business in favor and credit. In contrast, many Chinese use tricks such as selling at low prices to compete with each other. She added these Chinese also steal business from Indonesians, including local Chinese.

Regarding this situation, Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, an assistant professor at the Department of International Relations at Universitas Islam Indonesia, shared his view with RFA. He said there are ​​three major reasons for the criticism of this policy. The first is the history of anti-communism and the exclusion of China. The second is Beijing’s hegemony and issues over several areas, including COVID, the South China Sea, and Xinjiang. And the third one, which is more on a practical site, is that locals have lost job opportunities due to the Chinese.

Indonesia has attracted many Chinese entrepreneurs, one of them being Li Yang. According to the South China Morning Post, Li Yang is among many northern entrepreneurs seeking business opportunities in Southeast Asia. Li’s life before 30 was spent in different provinces in China, doing various jobs. Then came the turning point on her 30th birthday, when she decided to travel to Indonesia. Here, she met like-minded people, and her worldview changed forever since. It didn’t take long for the northern girl to move permanently to Indonesia and leave China for good. Now Li is a happy Chinese restaurant owner in Bali’s Canggu district, a fast-growing tourist district.

Li Yang is one of three entrepreneurs that appears in an SCMP October article. The newspaper cited Damon Liu, another Chinese entrepreneur who fell in love with Malaysia after a trip to Kuala Lumpur in 2013. He told SCMP, “I couldn’t believe I could speak Chinese in a foreign country. And the food was delicious, I remember my first taste of Indian banana leaf rice.” Damon Liu spent a few years experiencing the country. And in 2018, the entrepreneurs decided to buy Hidden Langkawi, a bar and restaurant on Tengah Beach. Damon’s investment turned into a success.

Seeing the opportunity, Damon took a step further. In the same year, he decided to build a guest house. However, while the guest house is now in operation, Damon juggles making a living and managing the guest house remotely from China. It turned out that in 2021, he had to go back to China due to the COVID pandemic. Ever since then, the draconian zero-COVID policy has been holding him back. He told SCMP, “China is so busy, it’s tiring. I hope one day we’ll all be there, breathing fresh air, drinking coconut milk and enjoying a slower pace of life.”

Lukia Lu is much luckier than Damon Liu. Tired of busy China, she left after a trip to Thailand in 2017. Lukia Lu enjoyed her new life in Koh Samui, where she worked as a dive constructor, freelance Mandarin teacher, and real-estate consultant. Things were good until, in 2019, she had to come back to China to take care of her father. Then, the pandemic hit, so she had to stay in her motherland. But her heart had changed, as she said, “I stayed in China, dividing my time between Shanghai and Ningxia, until the Sandbox scheme in Phuket enabled people to come back to Thailand after a 14-day quarantine. I touched down in October 2021, took a breath of fresh air and tasted home.”

It isn’t hard to tell that the young Chinese are somewhat getting bored with China. Once they settle down in other countries, it’s unlikely that they will come back to China. The reason may be varied. According to a Japan-based Chinese woman, good social welfare keeps the Chinese abroad.

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