China's Xinhua News Agency has incurred the wrath of Indonesians for claiming that batik is a traditional craft common among ethnic groups in China. On 12 July, Xinhua posted a tweet accompanied with a video that said batik is a traditional Chinese craft usually used by ethnic minority groups living in Guizhou and Yunnan located in southwestern China.
"Using melting wax and a spatula-like tool, people dye the cloth and heat it to get rid of the wax. Check out how the ancient craft evolves in modern times. #AmazingChina," the tweet added. Needless to say, this drew ire among Indonesians who are proud of batik being part of their culture heritage and have claimed that the technique originated from Java. In 2009, UNESCO recognised batik as part of Indonesia's culture heritage, placing it on the representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Following this, former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono declared 2 October National Batik Day.
Xinhua's tweet had 2.3k retweets and comments and 1.1k likes. Many called out China for copying another nation's culture heritage and explained that the word "batik" comes from the Javanese term "ambatik" which means to mark with spots or dots. They also rebuked China for having the audacity to claim batik as part of its culture.
Meanwhiile, some said the Chinese term 蜡染 (wax dying) was also mistranslated to mean batik, adding that the technique of wax dying has a long history in China. At the same time, one netizen quoted online portal The Batik Guild, saying that batik was practised in China as early as the Sui Dynasty from AD 581 to 618. Separately, batik is also synonymous with Indonesian and Malaysian cultures. The kebaya, a traditional outfit in Indonesia and Malaysia, is typically paired with a long piece of batik cloth wrapped around the waist. Citizens in both countries have also previously crossed swords over the origins of batik.