Dutch Colonials Impose High Taxes On Immigrants From China On Today’s History, May 25, 1696
The Chinese in Batavia began to be heavily taxed after the death of the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, Jan Pieterzoon Coen in 1629. (Wikimedia Commons)

JAKARTA – Today’s History, 326 years ago, May 25, 1696, the Dutch trading airline VOC imposed a high tax on new arrivals from China. This regulation increased the tax burden received by the Chinese in Batavia. From trade taxes to head taxes.

All because the Company considered the Chinese as mere economic drivers. No more. Hence, the Chinese are given special privileges. The Company is ready to protect all kinds of Chinese activities in Betawi land.

Building Batavia was not an easy matter. Governor General of the VOC Jan Pieterszoon Coen who served twice in 1619-1623 and 1627-1629 had experienced it. He racked his brain planning a worthy candidate for a colony.

Coen also got a brilliant idea. He wanted the Chinese to be important citizens in Batavia. The tenacity and spirit of the Chinese people's hard work is the estuary. He also believes that the presence of the Chinese can bring abundant benefits. Not only for Batavia, but also for the Netherlands.

The trading center is an area inhabited by the ethnic Chinese community in Batavia. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Chinese entrance to Batavia was opened wide by Coen. In fact, the strategy worked. As predicted, the Chinese who came to Batavia began to fill important positions. They became the driving force of the economy in Batavia. Among others, they became traders, farmers, businessmen, carpenters, and fishermen.

The presence of the Chinese helped greatly in the development in Batavia. They are the main brains of the presence of important buildings. The presence of the fort and castle of Batavia is one example.

“Chinese citizens who worked during the reign of the first governor-general in Batavia have no complaints. This shows that Coen really appreciates its citizens. He never tolerated British or Dutch people treating Chinese people unfairly.”

“Coen also does not view them as objects of excessive taxation. When he wants to impose duties on imports and exports, he will consult with Souw Beng Kong and Jan Congh the Head of the Chinese Community. He is always ready to accept their opinions,” said Johannes Theodorus Vermeulen in his book Chinese in Batavia and Huru-Hara 1740 (2010).

It is possible that during Coen's reign, the Chinese in Batavia prospered. However, it did not continue when Coen was gone. His successors saw the Chinese as mere objects of taxation. As time goes by, the taxes that the Chinese have to pay are increasing in number.

A community of immigrants from China in Batavia. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Netherlands collects taxes on many things, from head taxes to staples. In fact, every time a new Chinese immigrant arrives, the owner does not forget to collect taxes. Each year the tax is increased. Take, for example, May 25, 1696. The Company imposed a high tax on each arrival of immigrants from China.

“The Chinese captain will then report to the VOC who can become citizens of Batavia. The VOC also stipulates that each Chinese ship is only allowed to carry 50 Chinese immigrants, and each person is subject to a 10 ringgit duty.”

“However, there were irregularities in the collection of duties from VOC employees, causing the flow of Chinese immigrants to continue to increase. Therefore, on May 25, 1696, the VOC implemented an even tougher regulation, whereby singke or Chinese newcomers were charged a fee of 15 ringgit,” concluded Hembing Wijayakusuma in the book Massacre 1740: Angke Blood Tragedy (2005).

The implementation of high taxes for immigrants from China by the Dutch colonial government in the archipelago, became today's history record today on May 25, 1696.

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