Quite a few times we visited Dili, the capital of East Timor. We often admired the great Chinese cemetery,
beautifully situated on one of the hills surrounding the city with a nice view of the town and the coastline.
But to the Chinese Guang Di temple, dedicated to Guang Gong, we had never been before.
When we enter the temple in the centre of Dili early in the morning, it's already crowded.
A Chinese employee of the temple stands in front of an altar, where he shakes a box with wooden
sticks while he mumbles something unintelligible to our Dutch ears.
There is a waiting room filled with East Timorese but nobody, remarkably enough, of Chinese descent.
A Timorese girl in the company of a young man timidly whispers something
into the ear of the Chinese temple worker. Does she want to become pregnant?
On little notes also other visitors write down their desires. Ranging from performing well at an exam,
getting a healty child up to greater prosperity and anything else people could wish for. "Everyone is
welcome," says the 'mediator', "There are, as you can see, also a lot of non-Chinese East Timorese.
They happily spend two dollars for our mediation."
In the former Portugese colony the East Timorese and the ethnic Chinese have always lived peacefully together.
In december 1975 Indonesia invaded East Timor after Portugal withdrew from their colony.
At that time there were about twenty thousand Timorese Peranakan Chinese, among others from the former Portuguese colony of Macau, who had been living here for generations.
Among the many victims of the Indonesian military there was also
a large number of Chinese Timorese. Many fled to Australia, Taiwan and Portugal
after the Indonesian invasion. In 1999 after the UN referendum the Indonesian occupation,
which cost more than a hundred thousand lives, came to an end.
Since independence Dili became a city with a great attraction to Asian businessmen.
Not only Chinese Indonesians, but also many Chinese from mainland China have shops
and businesses set up in the East Timorese capital.