The Indonesian government's swift use of the Army to quell a recent spasm of anti-Chinese riots has driven home a blunt message: It is determined to prevent communal frictions from disrupting the economy, scaring off foreign investment, and possibly even escalating into attacks on the government itself.
Calm now appears to be returning to central Java after several days of anti-Chinese disturbances in the Indonesian cities of Semarang and Solo. Stone throwing, overturning of cars, and looting of shops in these areas some 250 miles east of Jakarta have demonstrated once again the potential for violence between more than 140 million native Indonesians and 3 million Indonesians of Chinese descent.
Eight students, none of them Chinese, were shot and killed in the recent disturbances. More than 240 Chinese shops, 230 homes, and 22 factories were burned or damaged. Loses were estimated at several million dollars.
Indonesian Chinese say such rioting is often incited and led by radical, unemployed students.