Intercultural Communication and Mutualistic Relationship between the Chinese and the Minangnese in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia

Riniwaty Makmur, Engkus Kuswarno, Evi Novianti, Nuryah Asri Sjafirah


Ethnic-Chinese groups have lived in urban areas throughout Indonesia for hundreds of years, including the city of Padang in West Sumatra. Here, the Chinese have been able to maintain a harmonious relationship with the Minangnese, the original inhabitants of the region and the dominant culture. Though both ethnic groups have a strong trading ethos and profess different religions, a situation that, in theory, encourages social conflict, this is not the case in Padang. However, recent research has sparked concern about growing anti-Chinese sentiments in Indonesia. These findings suggest that the phenomenon of the harmonious relationship between the Chinese and Minangnese in Padang merits further research. This study has been designed to analyze intercultural communication and relations between the Chinese and Minangnese ethnic groups in Padang by utilizing five elements of culture from Samovar, Porter, and McDaniel. It uses a qualitative approach and a case-study method conducted intermittently from January 2016 to June 2017. Data was collected through interviews with 39 ethnic Chinese and Minangnese informants, observations conducted in the predominately Chinese district of Padang (Chinatown), along with document reviews as secondary data. The study found that six out of eight identified characteristics of cultural elements of the Chinese and Minangnese in Padang exhibit significant similarity. These are: history in Padang, collective social organization, values based upon a trading ethos, a situational nature and flexibility to adapt, and the language in common use. The significant similarities of cultural elements leads to effective communication and supports more harmonious inter-ethnic relationships.


Keywords: Intercultural communication, mutualistic relationship, chinese and minangnese ethnic groups, cultural elements, effective communication.

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