Overseas Chinese

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Overseas Chinese are Chinese people who live outside China. China, in this usage, usually refer to what is sometimes called "Greater China", including territory currently administered by the rival governments of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) as per traditional definitions of the term prior to the Chinese Civil War, or only to the People's Republic of China by some. In addition, the government of the Republic of China granted residents of Hong Kong and Macau "overseas Chinese status" prior to their respective handover to Beijing rule, so the definition may be said to loosely extend to them.


[edit] Terminology.

The Chinese language has various terms equivalent to the English "Overseas Chinese". Huá Qiáo (Traditional:華僑; Simplified:华侨) refers to Chinese residing in countries other than China. Huá Yì (Traditional:華裔; Simplified:华裔) refers to ethnic Chinese residing outside of China. [1]

The usage of these term can be relatively fluid, geographically. For example, the ethnic Chinese people of Singapore and Malaysia are occasionally excluded from the above said definition of "overseas Chinese" in view of their successful integration with their new country. Recent research shows that the majority of the ethnic Chinese in both nations have expressed the view that they are bonded to their country of citizenship, rather than to China (either PRC or ROC).[citation needed]

Another often-used term is 海外華人 (hǎiwài huárén), a more literal translation of Overseas Chinese; it is often used by the PRC government to refer to people of Chinese ethnicities who live outside the PRC, regardless of citizenship.

Amongst those Overseas Chinese who are Cantonese or Hokkien, a common term is 唐人 (táng rén), pronounced tòhng yàn in Cantonese and teng lang in Hokkien. Literally, it means Tang people, a reference to Tang dynasty China. It should be noted that this term is used mostly for its common usage, and not necessarily always as a reference to any relations between the Overseas Chinese people of today and the Tang dynasty.

The term Overseas Chinese is ambiguous as to whether it can refer to any of the ethnic groups that live in China (the broadly defined Zhonghua minzu) or whether it refers specifically to the Han Chinese ethnicity, narrowly defined. Ethnic Korean minorities from China who are living in South Korea today are often included in calculations of overseas Chinese, because these ethnic Koreans also identify themselves as part of the Chinese nation. In Southeast Asia and particularly in Malaysia and Singapore, the state classifies the Peranakan as Chinese despite partial assimilation into Malay culture.

One study on overseas Chinese defines several criteria for identifying non-Han overseas Chinese: there is evidence of descent from groups living within or originating from China, they still retain their culture, self-identify with Chinese culture or acknowledge Chinese origin, and are not indigenous to their current land. Under this definition, minority overseas Chinese number about 7 million, or about 8.4% of the total overseas population.<ref>Template:Cite paper</ref>

[edit] Overseas Chinese experiance

In some countries, the Chinese are often subject to racist discrimination, where the poor Chinese are despised and the rich hated. Despite having spent their lifetimes in these countries, "Leave if you don't like it here!" is still a phrase often heard, even by third or fourth generation Chinese. This is a problem faced by many overseas Chinese and for this reason some overseas Chinese have chosen not to be identified as Chinese or overseas Chinese but still maintain a separate Chinese identity, in the hope of placating the local majorities (who, ironically, may not even be real natives of the land). Thus many Overseas Chinese explicitly identify themselves only by nationality (ie, the state they are from or resident in). Unfortunately, sometimes even partial assimilation is not enough for them to be spared from persecution.

In contrast, the general Chinese viewpoint is different. The Chinese usually identify a person by ethnicity instead of nationality. As long as the person is of Chinese descent, that person is a considered a Chinese, and if that person lives outside of China, that person is overseas Chinese. The majority of Chinese do not understand the overseas Chinese experiance of being a minority, as they have never suffered racism in their own country.

[edit] Definition (of Chinese government)

Huá Qiáo (Chinese: 華僑) also known as Qiáo Bāo or Zhōng Guó Qiáo Mín (Chinese: 僑胞、中國僑民), according to the Chinese national law is, a person born in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau and is a Chinese passport holder with Chinese nationality, he/she is living or working overseas.

Huá Yì (Chinese: 華裔) also known as Wài Jí Huá Rén (Chinese: 外籍华人, 海外華人, 華胞), according to the Chinese national law is, a person born outside mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau and is a holder of alien passport.

The Chinese national law refer to a Canada-born person (of Chinese skin) as Canadian Huá Yì (Chinese: 加拿大華裔), and same to American Huá Yì (Chinese: 美国華裔), Brazilian Huá Yì (Chinese: 巴西華裔) and so on.

[edit] History

The Chinese people have a long history of migrating overseas (see Chinese Migration). The overseas Chinese of today can be dated back to the Ming dynasty. When Zheng He became the envoy of Ming, he sent people to explore and trade in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. Many of them were Cantonese and Hokkien. Chinese emigrated to Vietnam beginning in the 18th century, and have been identified as the Hoa, or Vietnamese Chinese.

A large portion stayed and never returned to China. [2] Physical evidence such as Bukit Cina in Malaysia seems to indicate permanent settlements.

In 19th century, the age of colonialism was at its height and the great Chinese Diaspora began. Many colonies lacked a large pool of laborers. Meanwhile, in the provinces of Fujian and Guangdong in China, there was a labor surplus due to the relative peace in the Qing dynasty. The Qing Empire was forced to allow its subjects to work overseas under colonial powers. Many Hokkien chose to work in Southeast Asia with their earlier links starting from the Ming era, as did the Cantonese. For the countries in North America and Australia, great numbers of laborers were needed in the dangerous tasks of gold mining and railway construction. With famine widespread in Guangdong, this attracted many Cantonese to work in these countries to improve the living conditions of their relatives. Some overseas Chinese were sold to South America during Punti-Hakka Clan Wars in the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong.

With the completion of railways, many overseas Chinese suffered from racial discrimination in Canada and the United States of America, where they were barred from entering the country.

After World War II, the last years of the Chinese Civil War increased Chinese suffering. Some educated overseas Chinese did not return to the country as the conditions deteriorated.

Many people from the New Territories in Hong Kong emigrated to the UK (mainly England) and the Netherlands in the post-war period to earn a better living.

In the 1980s, Britain agreed to transfer the sovereignty of Hong Kong to the PRC; this triggered another wave of migration to the United Kingdom (mainly England), Australia, Canada, United States of America and other lands. The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 further accelerated the migration. The wave calmed after the transfer of sovereignty in 1997.

[edit] Current numbers

There are approximately 60 million overseas Chinese, mostly living in Southeast Asia where they make up a majority of the population of Singapore and significant minority populations in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. The overseas populations in those areas arrived between the 16th and the 19th centuries mostly from the maritime provinces of Guangdong and Fujian, followed by Hainan. There are incidences of earlier emigration in the 10th centuries to 15th centuries in particular to Malacca and Southeast Asia.

[edit] Recent emigration

More recent emigration from the mid-19th century onward has been directed primarily to western countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the nations of Western Europe; as well as to Peru where they are called tusán, and to a lesser extent to Mexico. Many of these emigrants who entered western countries were themselves overseas Chinese or were from Taiwan or Hong Kong, particularly in the 1950s to the 1980s, during which the PRC placed severe restrictions on the movement of its citizens.

[edit] Assimilation

Overseas Chinese vary widely as to their degree of assimilation, their interactions with the surrounding communities (see Chinatown), and their relationship with China. In Thailand, overseas Chinese have largely intermarried and assimilated with their compatriots. In Myanmar, the Chinese rarely intermarry (even amongst different Chinese linguistic groups), but have largely adopted the Burmese culture whilst maintaining Chinese culture affinities. Indonesia, and Myanmar are among the countries that do not allow birth names to be registered in foreign languages, including Chinese. In Vietnam, foreign language names are transliterated into Vietnamese. For example, 胡锦涛 (pinyin: Hú Jǐntāo) would become "Hồ Cẩm Đào". Very often, there is no distinct number of the Chinese population in these countries. In western countries, the overseas Chinese generally use romanised versions of their Chinese names, and the use of local first names is also common.

On the other hand, in Malaysia and Singapore, overseas Chinese have maintained a distinct communal identity, though the rate and state of being assimilated to the local, in this case a multicultural society, is currently en par with that of other Chinese communities (see Peranakan). In the Philippines, many younger Overseas Chinese are well assimilated, whereas the older ones tend to be considered as 'foreigners'. More recent overseas Chinese immigrants have been despised by many Filipinos due to incidences of some selling illegal drugs, as well as being high profile smugglers. Chinese have also brought a cultural influence to some other countries such as Vietnam, where many customs have been adopted by native Vietnamese.
Image:East Timor hakka wedding.jpg
Ethnic Hakka people in a wedding in East Timor, 2006

[edit] Waves of immigration

Often there are different waves of immigration leading to subgroups among overseas Chinese such as the new and old immigrants in Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, Ireland, Hawaii, USA, Peru, Brazil, South Africa, Canada, Myanmar, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, and Philippines.

The Chinese in Southeast Asian countries have often established themselves in commerce and finances. In North America, because of immigration policies, overseas Chinese tend to be found in professional occupations, including significant ranks in medicine and academia. More recent Chinese presences have developed in Europe, where they number nearly a million, and in Russia, they number over 600,000, concentrated in Russia's Far East.

[edit] Relationship with China

Both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China maintain highly complex relationships with overseas Chinese populations. Both maintain cabinet level ministries to deal with overseas Chinese affairs, and many local governments within the PRC have overseas Chinese bureaus. Both the PRC and ROC have some legislative representation for overseas Chinese. In the case of the PRC, some seats in the National People's Congress are allocated for returned overseas Chinese. In the ROC's Legislative Yuan, there are eight seats allocated for overseas Chinese. These seats are apportioned to the political parties based on their vote totals on Taiwan, and then the parties assign the seats to overseas Chinese party loyalists. Most of these members elected to the Legislative Yuan hold dual citizenship, but must renounce their foreign citizenship (at the American Institute in Taiwan for American citizens) before being sworn in.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the ROC tended to seek the support of overseas Chinese communities through branches of the Kuomintang based on Sun Yat-sen's use of expatriate Chinese communities to raise money for his revolution. During this period, the People's Republic of China tended to view overseas Chinese with suspicion as possible capitalist infiltrators and tended to value relationships with southeast Asian nations as more important than gaining support of overseas Chinese, and in the Bandung declaration explicitly stated that overseas Chinese owed primary loyalty to their home nation.

After the Deng Xiaoping reforms, the attitude of the PRC toward overseas Chinese changed dramatically. Rather than being seen with suspicion, they were seen as people which could aid PRC development via their skills and capital. During the 1980s, the PRC actively attempted to court the support of overseas Chinese by among other things, returning properties that were confiscated after the 1949 revolution. More recently PRC policy has attempted to maintain the support of recently emigrated Chinese, who consist largely of Chinese seeking graduate education in the West.

Overseas Chinese have sometimes played an important role in Chinese politics. Most of the funding for the Chinese revolution of 1911 came from overseas Chinese, and many overseas Chinese are overseas for political reasons. Many overseas Chinese are now investing in mainland China providing financial resources, social and cultural networks, contacts and opportunities.

[edit] Statistics

Some information in this article or section has not been verified and may not be reliable.
Please check for any inaccuracies, and modify and cite sources as needed.
Continent/CountryArticles about Chinese populationOverseas Chinese Population% of local
% of Global Overseas
Chinese population
Asia 52,390,000 (1998)0.7%83.7%
ThailandThai Chinese8.5 million (2006)14%11.7%
MalaysiaMalaysian Chinese, Peranakan7.59 million (2006)33%12.1%
IndonesiaChinese Indonesian7.3 million (2003)3.1%11.7%
SingaporeChinese in Singapore2.7 million (2005) (Source)75.6%4.3%
VietnamHoa2.3 million (2003)3%3.7%
PhilippinesChinese Filipino1.5 million (2004)2%2.4%
MyanmarBurmese Chinese, Panthay1.3 million (2003)3%2.1%
JapanChinese in Japan175,000 (2003)0.1%0.3%
CambodiaChinese Cambodian150,000 (2003)1.2%0.2%
South KoreaEthnic Chinese in Korea85,000 (2003)0.2%0.16%
Brunei Ethnic Chinese in Brunei 56,000 (2006) 15%0.1%
LaosNone50,000 (2003)1%0.1%
North KoreaEthnic Chinese in Korea50,000 (2003)0.2%0.1%
IndiaChinese of CalcuttaUnknownUnknownUnknown
MongoliaHan Chinese in MongoliaUnknownUnknownUnknown
Americas 5,220,000 (1998)0.6%8.0%
United StatesChinese American, American-born Chinese2.4 million (2000)0.8%6.8%
CanadaChinese Canadian1.2 million (2004)3.69%3.4%
BrazilChinese Brazilian300,000 (2005)0.09%0.3%
PanamaDemographics section of the Panama article150,0005%0.4%
ArgentinaAsian Argentine60,0000.16%Unknown
JamaicaChinese Jamaican10,000 (2004)0.3%???
CubaChinese CubanUnknownUnknownUnknown
Puerto RicoChinese immigration to Puerto RicoUnknownUnknownUnknown
Europe 945,000 (1998)0.1%1.5%
United KingdomBritish Chinese247,403 (From 2001 census.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>)0.4%0.7%
Republic of IrelandNone135,000 (2006) 3.0%0.25%
ItalyChinese Italians111,7120.19%0.2%
SpainChinese Spaniards120,000 (2004) (Unofficial figures show 130,000+)0.5%0.3%
The NetherlandsNone80,0001.4%0.3%
RomaniaChinese of Romania2,2490.01%< 0.01%
Oceania 564,000 (1998)1.7%1.5%
AustraliaChinese Australian454,000 (2003)2.5%1.3%
New ZealandChinese New Zealander115,000 (2003)2.8%0.3%
FijiChinese in Fiji6,000 (2000)0.5%0.01%
Africa and the Middle East 126,000 (1998)0.02%0.2%
South AfricaAsians in South Africa100,000 (2003)0.2%0.3%
IsraelChinese in Israel23,0000.3%>0.1%

Note that the percentages do not add up due to varying census and estimate dates.

[edit] See also

[edit] References


[edit] Further reading

  • Pan, Lynn. The Encyclopedia of the Chinese Overseas, Landmark Books, Singapore, 1998. ISBN 91-83018-92-5
  • Chin, Ung Ho. The Chinese of South East Asia, London: Minority Rights Group, 2000. ISBN 1-897693-28-1

[edit] External links

es:Tusán fr:Chinois d'outre-mer ja:華僑 th:ชาวจีนโพ้นทะเล vi:Hoa kiều zh:海外華人

Overseas Chinese

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