For Indonesian kung fu book fans, the name of Kho Ping Hoo or Sukawati Asmaraman is very familiar. He is an Indonesian prolific and legendary writer of Chinese origin. Inspired by Chinese kung fu books, he made a significant contribution to Indonesian daily literature. His kung fu stories original, distinctive, imaginative and load the big ideas with a background of life in China which is presented with a very alluring.
In his works, even he never visited China before, Kho Ping Hoo managed to tell the readers about the beauty of the scenic landscapes in the mountains and surrounding Thaysan with enough detail (now located in Shandong Province). He also tells many fictional characters who live in the world of martial turbulent times between the kingdoms in China at that time, both groups of black characters (antagonist) and the white group (protagonist). The characters are displayed well and gave a lot of inspiration to the readers and fans.
In the era where diplomatic relations between Indonesia and China are not harmonious, as a result of the attempted coup by Indonesian Communist Party in 1965, and New Order’s regime banned to teach Chinese language, history and culture, Kho Ping Hoo’s books have meant much for generations of Chinese Indonesians to learn more about their cultural identity
Today, the situation is certainly very different. Indonesia-China relation is in the peak and both countries agreed to become strategic partnership in 2005 and enhancing its relationship into comprehensive strategic partnership in 2013. Furthermore, we are now in the age of information and technology where someone can reach millions of people at the speed of thought and access much information.
Against this backdrop, books could become an interesting instrument of diplomacy, more typically known as “soft power”, to engage people-to-people contact and could be used as an instrument of cultural diplomacy to reach out the international communities.