Concern at anti-China posts after 4 Chinese nationals were arrested for planting imported chili seeds contaminated with a bacteria
December 17, 2016
CHINA’S embassy in Indonesia has expressed alarm at media reports accusing the country of using a “biological weapon” against Indonesia, after four Chinese nationals were arrested for planting imported chili seeds contaminated with a bacteria.
The reports have sparked a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment on social media.
Indonesian authorities said the imported chili seeds confiscated on a farm about 60 kilometers south of the capital of Jakarta contained the bacteria erwinia chrysanthemi, which is harmless to humans but can cause failure in crops.
It was the first time the bacteria had been detected in Indonesia, the state-owned news agency Antara quoted the head of the country’s quarantine body as saying.
Indonesians are among the world’s most avid users of social media, and conspiracy theories about the intentions of the four Chinese nationals running the farm quickly spread.
“Haven’t people realized that Chinese attacks on this country are real in many ways. From drugs, illegal workers, now chili bacteria,” was one comment on Twitter.
Authorities burned the chili seeds and destroyed the crop sown by the Chinese men and 30 Indonesian workers on a leased plot of land near the city of Bogor.
In a statement, the Chinese embassy said there was no basis for accusations of a plot to use “biological weapons to destroy the economy of Indonesia.” It added: “We hope that the bilateral relations and friendship between the people of China and Indonesia will not be affected by this matter.”
Indonesia’s maritime affairs minister Luhut Panjaitan criticized some of the outbursts. “Whether it’s true or not, some people over-react,” he said.
“Oh, the Chinese invade Indonesia. Come on. This is the problem with social media. Without checking, they just spread the rumors.”
On average, ethnic Chinese are far wealthier than other groups in Indonesia and the view that they are less patriotic than other Indonesians persist.
In riots after the fall of President Suharto in 1998, ethnic Chinese were targeted, making up a disproportionate number of the 1,000 people killed.
source: Shanghai Daily