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Myths of creation and the creation of myths: interrogating Chinese diaspora (1).

We live in an age of globalization. As everyone knows, in the present era it is almost impossible to open borders for movements of information, capital, and commodities but close borders to movements of people. In fact millions of people are moving from their countries of origin to wherever they believe to be a better place. In the age of migration, the term diaspora is no longer a concept strictly associated with the particularities of the Jewish experience. Instead, diaspora has become popular, both as a concept and as a term commonly used to describe those ethnic groups who settle down in other countries rather than in their country of origin. Chinese diaspora, a term which has been used quite often now, has come to be regarded as one of the major diasporas in human history.

But to what extent is the Chinese diaspora a reasonable concept to describe the general attributes of the Chinese who have settled down outside China? Does there exist a collective Chinese-diaspora consciousness? Or have Chinese abroad established a diaspora reality? Where do non-Han ethnic groups (such as Tibetans, Uighurs, Dai, Miao, and Yao) and locally socialized Chinese offspring (such as baba, Peranakan Chinese, Chinese Filipino, Sino-Vietnamese and Sino-Khmer) "fit" within the Chinese diaspora? In general, how can we understand Chinese diaspora?


China is a country rich in human resources. Ever since ancient times, there have been flows of goods as well as people across the borders to and from neighboring countries and suzerain states. This is a phenomenon existing far earlier than the notion of "nation-state;" it is a phenomenon that prefigures the contemporary practice of transnational commerce and migration. Nowadays both the authorities in mainland China and in Taiwan are proud of the fact that there are at least thirty-five million ethnic Chinese spread all over the world. In China the common terms used to name their compatriots abroad are Huaqiao, Huaren, or Huaqiao Huaren; sometimes Huayi is included. The relevant definitions of these similar terminologies can be summarized as follows:

Huaqiao: Originally, the term was used to refer to those Chinese who have been abroad for some time. It was not applicable to settlers. But now the term is used to refer to those Chinese who have obtained permanent residence in their adopted country but still retain their Chinese citizenship, either the citizenship of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, or the Macao Special Administration Region.

Huaren: This refers to the Chinese who have settled down somewhere outside China and have also obtained the citizenship of their adopted country.

Huaqiao-Huaren: A general term to combine the above-mentioned two groups.

Huayi: Chinese descendants who were born and have grown up outside China or have been educated and socialized in the country that their parents or ancestors have adopted.

The exact definitions of the concepts listed above remain in dispute, although Professor Wang Gungwu, a leading scholar in this area, concludes that "correct usage [of the above-mentioned concepts] is clearer today than in the past." (2)

In December 1994 in his keynote lecture delivered at a conference titled "The Last Half Century of Chinese Overseas," Wang put forth his recent opinions on the Chinese overseas. Since all countries that receive migrants have similar expectations of their new citizens, he argued, neither Huaqiao nor Huaren adequately convey the idea of migrants who have been accepted as nationals of their new countries. (3) This argument immediately drew criticism from several scholars in China, who stressed that neither Huaqiao nor Huaren are out-of-date; instead, there is no concept better than these two to portray the general characteristics of the Chinese abroad. (4) Until now in mainland China the term Huaqiao-Huaren or haiwai Huaren (overseas Chinese or Chinese overseas) is still popularly used by both scholars and officials.

The debates quoted above in fact focus on the word qiao, meaning "sojourn" or "sojourner." Nevertheless central to this debate is another word, Hua, which is often overlooked. Concerning how the overseas non-Han people can fit in the overseas Chinese studies, or where is the place of non-Han Chinese in the overseas Chinese studies paradigm, we should critically examine the implications of Hua and see how it has been understood and used. Is it really understood only as a marker to indicate the fact of belonging to a Chinese state? Or is there a definite innuendo of a particular ethnic identity, i.e., a Han Chinese identity?

Hua comes from Huaxia and Zhonghua; both are alternative expressions for the more formal term Zhongguo, meaning China. However, Huaxia and Zhonghua carry with them a distinct literary overtone. At the very beginning, Hua meant beautiful. It is said that more than two thousand years ago, people living in the "central plain" (zhongyuan) wore beautiful clothes, but those living in peripheral areas were still "half-naked" or "partly covered." Thus, Huaxia was composed of people wearing beautiful clothes (Hua) and living in a spacious area (Xia); Zhonghua was composed of people living in the central plain (Zhong) and wearing beautiful clothes (Hua).

Because of this historical background, during a very long historical period, Hua was used to name civilized people. For instance, "Hua Yi zhi bie" distinguishes the "civilized Hua" from the "barbarian Yi." Another telling illustration was "Wu Hu luan Hua," which recorded a piece of history that five northern tribes (Hu) invaded China (Hua), which happened in the years between 304 and 439 AD. Besides, in the traditional Chinese expressions, Huazu was another term for aristocrat; Huazhou means descendants of aristocrats. Therefore, the term Hua has been related to civilization, nobility, and legitimacy, and its connotation was largely limited to Han people during the historical China.

Such being the case, the original contents of Huaqiao, which did not become popular until the early 20th century, logically excluded non-Han migrants abroad; and Chinese scholarship on Huaqiao-Huaren studies so far has almost exclusively focused on investigating the Han people. Among those descendants who were born and have grown up locally, their re-Sinification has been highly appreciated.

In addition to the implications of the concept Huaqiao mentioned above, there are some practical difficulties concerning overseas studies of non-Han migrants.

For instance, apart from the minorities such as Man and Hui that have mostly integrated with Han, there are many non-Han ethnic groups chiefly scattered at the peripheral areas of today's China. It is worth noting that more than a few of them are transnational ethnic groups in themselves, e.g., both Dai and Miao are spread on the national frontiers of today's China, Vietnam, Laos, and Burma and can be found in Thailand as well. To a large extent, it is difficult to distinguish China's Dai or Miao immigrants who have settled down in their adopted countries from the local peers. Also, they have little contact with the majority of Huaqiao, who normally live in commercial centers of the country. Therefore, Indochinese Huaqiao studies have rarely taken non-Han immigrants into account.

The situation of Tibetan migrants abroad shows other features. Among the thousands of Tibetans abroad, a considerable number of them are supporters of the Tibetan independence movement. They, of course, do not consider themselves a part of Huaqiao. Since they have been regarded as separatists, no studies of this group have been conducted from the Huaqiao perspective. While doing research on Chinese associations in the Netherlands, I once visited the only Tibetan association in Amsterdam. Although I consider it a Chinese organization, I was simply rejected by the association. The few people present there were unwilling to talk to me. An announcement on a counter caught my attention. It indicated that all goods on the counter were made by exiled Tibetans in India and that if you were to kindly buy the goods you would be contributing to the Tibetan independence movement.

According to the PRC policy, all non-Han groups within its borders are claimed as its national subjects and officially defined by the Chinese state as "minority nationalities" (shaoshu minzu). Logically the emigrants of all of these groups should be considered as a part of the study targets in Huaqiao-Huamn studies. However non-Han migrants have been ignored, and by now few substantial studies have been done on them. (5)

The development of overseas Chinese studies conducted by scholars outside China since the early 1990s seems to suggest that instead of following the stereotypical Chinese approach of discussing the concrete definitions of Huaqiao-Huaren, scholars are more interested in the new concept of Chinese diaspora. Among them are some Western scholars and some ethnic Chinese scholars with extensive Western educations, who choose to deal with the subject both in terms of theory and in terms of their own cultural and social predicament, as they see it.

However it is interesting to point out that in China very few Chinese Huaqiao-Huaren students have followed the current orientation of using Chinese diaspora to replace traditional terms such as overseas Chinese or Chinese overseas. Until now there has not been any accepted Chinese equivalent for the term Chinese diaspora.

How should we understand Chinese diaspora? Is Chinese diaspora a better concept to avoid the possible assumption that all Huaqiao-Huaren studies are essentially Han transnational migration studies?


As most people know, the term diaspora initially referred to the settling of scattered colonies of Jews outside Palestine after the Babylonian exile. However today the term diaspora refers to much wider categories: "It now encompasses a motley array of groups such as political refugees, alien residents, guest workers, immigrants, expellees, ethnic and racial minorities, overseas communities.... it is characterized by a sense of living in one place while simultaneously remembering and/or desiring and yearning for another place." (6) The principal features of diaspora have been concluded as follows: a history of dispersal, myths or memories of the homeland, alienation in the host country, desire for eventual return, ongoing support of the homeland, and a collective identity importantly defined by this relationship. (7) More than anything else, the notion of diaspora challenges the meaning of "nation-state" and its claims for exclusive loyalty when there exist the alternatives of multiple identities and even multiple citizenships.

Does there exist a Chinese diaspora in today's world? In the book Ungrounded Empires, Chinese diaspora as a pattern has been defined with an affirmative view. (8) According to the authors, while separated by space and traveling across and throughout the regions of dispersion, the Chinese diaspora is characterized by multiple and varied connections of family, kinship, commerce, sentiments about their native place in China, shared memberships in transnational organizations, and so on.

In another book written by one of the two authors referred to above, "the ungrounded personal identities" of Chinese diaspora were pointed out. The author argues that "for over a century, overseas Chinese have been the forerunners of today's multiply displaced subjects, who are always on the move both mentally and physically" One of Ong's typical diasporic subjects, a Chinese investor, is quoted as saying, "I can live anywhere in the world, but it must be near an airport." (9)

In a newly published book focusing on the Chinese migrant networks straddling Peru, Chicago, and Hawaii, the author Adam McKeown argues that the political and economic activities of Chinese migrants can best be understood by taking into account their links to each other and to China through a transnational perspective. He stresses that despite their very different histories, Chinese migrant families, businesses, and villages were connected through elaborate networks and shared institutions that stretched across oceans and entire continents. Therefore, "a revival of the idea of diaspora and the formulation of other concepts such as transnationalism, globalization, and the deterritorialized nation-state" have suggested "frameworks in which mobility and dispersion can become the starting points of analysis." (10)

While Chinese diaspora study is in vogue among some advanced academics, subconcepts of Chinese diaspora have been created as well. For instance, in her studies on Chinese transnationalism in the 1940s, Elizabeth Sinn describes a series of smaller Chinese networks as "mini-diasporas." While making her studies on Zhejiang immigrants in Europe, French scholar Veronique Poisson uses "Zhejiang Diaspora" to describe her study subject: "This common denominator plays the role of a dynamic establishing the transnational space." (12)

The selection of a concept and its corresponding term mirrors the user's principal opinion of the general characteristics of their study targets. One of the recent developments of migration studies is that it has shifted its focus from assimilation to take into account the global context of border-crossing movements. The revival or redefinition of diaspora studies is one of its logical consequences. From African/Black diaspora, Indian diaspora, and Turkish diaspora to Chinese diaspora, the relevant studies have focused on the worldwide phenomena of humans' motion, displacement, and dispersion on the one hand, and the social and political functions of their ethnic identity on the other. Undoubtedly globalization has highlighted the economic and political significance of diasporas.

Chinese migration students can benefit, more or less, from a diasporic perspective. First, the theoretical starting point for Chinese diaspora studies is that Chinese migration histories, ethnic networks, and people's habits cannot be studied in isolation. They are intertwined and interactive from a bird's-eye view. This is, I believe, the most important advantage of the re-creation of the concept "Chinese diaspora." While many traditional scholars are focusing their studies on a certain relatively isolated case (limited to either a geographic group or a kinship group), it is significant to put their study targets in a larger and wider historical perspective, moreover, to highlight the interactions with other Chinese and non-Chinese.

Second, one of the products resulting from the current globalization trend is the popular phenomenon of flexible citizenship. This means, more precisely, that the citizenship has become, to a certain degree, a popular strategy that some members of diasporas are using to take advantage of political and economic conditions in different parts of the world. Such being the case, strong attacks on the loyalty of the Chinese that have settled down in Southeast Asian countries cannot be crucial anymore. Through worldwide diasporic studies and comparisons, it is becoming clearer that diasporic experiences and consciousness are not a unique heritage of Chinese diaspora.

According to my understanding, the implication of Chinese diaspora is that nation-based perspectives are insufficient to understand contemporary Chinese abroad. Their transnational networks based on Chineseness, Chinese nationalism, or Chinese ethnicity are much more significant than their links with their respective host societies. Yet ironically, as in the descriptions quoted above, the "nation" is necessarily the defining nucleus of diaspora identity In the same way that there cannot be transnationalism without nations, so there cannot be diaspora without a central reference point from which it scatters. Those referents, once religious or cultural, have gained a specifically national dimension in the course of the last two centuries. From its earliest biblical usage all the way to the twentieth-century establishment of Palestine and Israel, the absence of a nation-state and the desire to form one were key elements in the maintenance of a diasporic consciousness.

Today the reverse is true. Indian, Cuban, African, and Chinese living overseas are faced with a paradox: on the one hand, the ability to move across boundaries has never been greater; on the other hand, the competition from the nationstate that claims them (in this case, China) as part of its "national space" within a "transnational world" creates an uneasy tension.

To a large degree Chinese diaspora is more a scholarly imagining than a reality. In other words, the term diaspora, which at once conjures up notions of displacement, transience, mobility, and alienation in the host country, has conversely become a reified construct in the Western imagination. This notion of a people scattered across time and space has become conceptually bound to a theoretically confined space. The ramifications of this reification are many. I consider a few below.

First the majority of the ethnic Chinese abroad are not particularly mobile. Or most of them are nothing like "multiply displaced subjects who are always on the move both mentally and physically," according to the Chinese diaspora argument.

It is worth pointing out that more than 80 percent of the ethnic Chinese abroad have settled down in Southeast Asian countries. They are the core component of the ethnic Chinese abroad. After settling down in Southeast Asia for generations, they are composed of a sprinkling of the first generation (China-born); some are third-, fourth-, fifth- or even uncountable generations of Sino-Indonesians, Sino-Malays, Chinese Filipinos, or Sino-Khmers. Most Chinese in Southeast Asia have regarded their adopted country as their "home" and have become part of the local society. To the majority of Chinese Southeast Asians, a common distinguishing factor is that they are ethnic Chinese who are more familiar with their local culture than with Chinese culture. Their links with their local society, in various ways, are much stronger than their links with China, which is only associated with their ancestors.

Peranakan Chinese in Indonesia may serve as an example. This is a group showing distinct signs of exposure to the local culture. Peranakan means children of the soil. To a certain degree, the Peranakan Chinese are the Chinese children brought up on Indonesian soil. Although the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia are regarded as a relatively isolated and aloof community, it is not easy for them to migrate from their settled country to another one whenever they want. One typical example is the terrible riots against the ethnic Chinese that happened in Jakarta in May 1998. When the riots happened, only a few Chinese could escape from Indonesia even temporarily.

One obvious fact is that the diaspora literature and much of the transnationalism literature are based upon studies of highly mobile Chinese in the former Anglo countries, that is, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and so on, where there are large concentrations of this kind of immigrant. They have resources--money, education, language, and cultural skills--to move anywhere in the world. The scholars who are writing about diaspora and transnationalism in this vein mostly have their backgrounds in Western Europe and other developed countries mentioned above. In such places the Chinese diaspora has high visibility particularly in the recent decades. This has impressed the scholars into thinking that they are the majority whose experiences are typical.

The second problem with the Chinese diaspora discourse is that it instills into people a sense of a separate world structured in terms of ethnicity. This structure is imposed on people who may not want it. Moreover, since it is a global structure, there is no escape.

The concept "Chinese diaspora" implies that a worldwide Chinese network exists. The essential ingredients of this network, as is imagined by scholars and commentators through the terminology of diaspora are, in my view, a sense of reified Chinese ethnicity and the purported unifying characteristic of "Chinese nationalism." The loyalty of the ethnic Chinese toward the host society is always problematic. Such an implication makes the concept of a single universe of "Chinese diaspora" a very sensitive or even dangerous concept, particularly among the ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia. As Tan Chee Beng seriously put it, in reference to Chinese ethnics in Southeast Asia, "We fear being perceived as scattered communities without a sense of belonging, whatever the good intentions of the term's users." (13)

In fact, mobile people are not necessarily the same as diaspora people. It may be a legitimate idea that many people, in what some people may call a diaspora, are seeking passports of convenience so they can move on to the next place, be astronauts with their family in one place and businessmen in another. (14) Nevertheless, there are also many people who are not particularly mobile in residence or in political commitment. Many other business people who work for international companies undoubtedly have multiple passports. The point is that we cannot rely too much on citizenship these days as a marker of migratory mobility or as a marker of a lack of political commitment to a given nation, etc. Citizenship is not only flexible for diaspora people; it is also a convenience for many other people who do not use it to move to other countries.

Moreover a current trend shows that ethnicity is becoming more of an individual matter. For many business and professional people, even if they are not particularly mobile themselves, ethnicity is becoming something personal. That may include individuals in those groups that are said to be diaspora because they are numerously scattered around the world, but many other people are in this category as well. In the case of migrants, there are those with resources who can quickly fit into the new environment (in the case of Chinese, say) and live in an expensive neighborhood where there may be few Chinese, where they may not be able to eat in Chinese restaurants or to have Chinese friends--but they may have many non-Chinese friends of their own class and profession. To them, class and professional status have become more important than ethnic or national background.

The third point of note is that diaspora (or transnationalism or global network) has a history--it changes over time.

In Southeast Asia before the Sino-Japanese War, Chinese of many classes lived transnational lives since the boundaries of the nation-state were not so strictly controlled. "Xia Nanyang" (going down to south sea) was a vague destination cherished by many would-be emigrants and their family members. However it is also worth noting that their emigration processes and transnational sojourns were more through family and business than through any sense of a "Chinese" diaspora. Moreover, some studies have shown that it was wealthier Chinese who were most likely to decide to settle permanently and to identify with the local community in their adopted country.

The years from the start of the Korean War (in the early 1950s) to the early 1970s formed a period in history when transnational migration in mainland China remained dormant. The tensions of the Cold War made many Chinese overseas very cautious. Few wanted to highlight their Chineseness, let alone develop worldwide contacts based on Chinese ethnicity.

During the last two decades of the twentieth-century, the situation changed. Going along with the quickly surging migration tide and highlighted worldwide Chinese activities, the current myths of Chinese diaspora were created.

A core component of the Chinese in today's Western-developed countries are new immigrants, who went abroad in the last few decades. Many are actively engaged in the establishment or reinforcement of contacts with China. It seems that there is no problem if the concept of Chinese diaspora is adopted, as long as the study concentrates on the border-crossing network among the Chinese abroad. However, if we take all ethnic Chinese outside China into account, it is clear that the ethnic Chinese who have been involved in such a worldwide network are limited to only a few transnational Chinese entrepreneurs, business people, or highly qualified professionals. Some new migrants may have to "travel" in a couple of countries before they can really settle down. Of the fifty million Chinese abroad, these cosmopolitan astronauts are actually upper-class people (or middle-class at least) who may form only an elite and numerically limited component. As has been mentioned earlier, most Chinese abroad are settlers and rank-and-file citizens to boot, such as the millions upon millions of ethnic Chinese in today's Southeast Asia.

In the case of the Chinese settlers in the western countries such as the Netherlands, the implications of Chinese nationalism may not be as sensitive as in Southeast Asia. For instance some Chinese associations in the Netherlands not only have their associations entitled Huaqiao, but also publicly proclaim that they are a "patriotic overseas Chinese association." (15) However, the fact that they are living in the Netherlands and remembering their home country is certainly nostalgia, but it is not the Chinese nationalism that some scholars warned of. (16) Instead their patriotic complex is nothing more than an imaginary sense that, in Anderson's words, is just "a politics without responsibility or accountability" or "long-distance nationalism." (17) In effect, the members of these associations prefer to live in the Netherlands rather than in China. No matter whether they are committed or not, the political situation in the Netherlands affects them and their families much more directly. It is true though that their hopes for the prosperity of China are more passionate than those cherished by most Dutch people. Likewise they feel happier than most Dutch people when they see progress made by China. Nevertheless it is important to recognize the potential meaning of this phenomenon: They want to gain social elevation in the Netherlands from the strength and prosperity of China.

My recent research on the returned Chinese in Fujian Province of China has also shed light on this issue, but from another perspective. In the early 1960s, due to the uneasy political situation in Indonesia, the Chinese government rented ships to fetch their compatriots from Indonesia. Thousands of Chinese went aboard the ships and came back to China, all of their own accord, although for different reasons. After returning to China, most were assigned to settle down in the state-owned farms, which are named Huaqiao nongchang (Overseas Chinese Farm). Now forty years have passed. In my recent fieldwork in one such farm, I found that a gap between the returned Indonesian Chinese and the local farmers still exists. To my surprise almost all of my interviewees, most of whom were born in the Indonesian archipelago and came back when they were teenagers or even younger children, are full of nostalgia for their birthplace (Indonesia), although many have never visited that archipelago again after they left. Moreover, many still prefer to talk with each other in Indonesian languages, although they can all speak Mandarin very well. With a collective identification of being "returned Indonesian Chinese," they have formed a relatively isolated group in the farm. They are Han people and were Huaqiao before they returned to China. However, after resettling in the country of origin, their behaviors should be presumed to be an Indonesian diaspora rather than a Chinese diaspora, if measured with the diaspora features listed earlier.

Unlike Jewish diaspora, there is no identical religion to unite all Chinese together. After experiencing emigration for centuries, the Chinese abroad have shown clear distinctions from each other. Except for some collective physical appearances, there is no doubt that the differences between a Chinese offspring who was born in Indonesia and a Chinese who has been socialized in the United States are much more distinct than the differences existing between the relevant Chinese and their local non-Chinese friends.

I believe that the arguments on the Chinese diaspora show the diversities in opinion between the scholarly observers on the one hand and the Chinese migrants and settlers on the other. At a deeper level, it shows clear contrasts between an objective and a subjective, a global and a local, or an outsider's and an insider's perspectives. It is worth pointing out that there is a dual tension, a nation-state-based tension, in terms of identification and political participation. More or less, Chinese diaspora is a myth that exists in the scholars' imaginations rather than a reality. Moreover it is a faulty assumption that one's convictions, sentiments, and values are determined by one's "blood." It is even worse to separate the world by imposed ethnicity.

Finally, let's go back to the topic mentioned at the beginning of this paper, that is, the hierarchy of ethnic identities. In general, from the Chinese diaspora discourse, i.e., a postmodern migration study approach, the popularly regarded collective attributes of Chineseness, such as generic body features, expanded kinships, nostalgia toward their original state, or elegant identity of being the sons of the Yellow Emperor, and so on, have been emphasized to underlie the concept "Chinese diaspora." It seems that the borders of Chinese diaspora are forged by bloodlines rather than landlines. This being the case, even if we accept the term Chinese diaspora, should we think of ethnic minorities within that group in some striated and hierarchically arranged manner, or should we think instead of parallel diasporas? That is, are the Dai from Yunnan Province who emigrated to Burma, Cambodia, or Thailand part of a Dai diaspora or a Chinese diaspora? The question is still pending.


(1.) The draft of this paper was presented as a keynote speech at the conference "Migrating Identities and Ethnic Minorities in the Chinese Diaspora," held by the Center for the Study of the Chinese Southern Diaspora (CSCSD) at Australian National University, September 26-28, 2001. Comments on an earlier version of this paper by Edgar Wickberg, Shen Yuan-Fang, Penny Edwards, Adam McKeown, and Fu Shiyi are greatly appreciated. Still I will take responsibility for any possible errors or mistakes in the paper.

(2.) Wang Gungwu, "Upgrading the Migrant: Neither Huaqiao nor Huaren." In Elizabeth Sinn, ed., The Last Half Century of Chinese Overseas (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1998), 16.

(3.) Cf. Wang (1998), a revised version of the lecture.

(4.) See Shan Yang, "Huaqiao yu Huaren de chenghu shi kexue degannian" [The terms Huaqiao and Huaren are scientific concepts]. In Huaqiao Huaren lishi yanjiu [Historical Research on Chinese and Overseas Chinese], No. 3 (1995), 9-13; Dayou Xiang, "Huaqiao Huaren chengwei shi lishi he xianshi de kexue fanying" [The terms Huaqiao and Huaren are scientific concepts reflecting history and reality]. In Bagui qiaoshi, No. 2 (1995), 1-5; Zhujia, "Youguan haiwai Huaren chengwei zhi yilun" [Discussions on how to name the Chinese abroad]. In Pan Mingzhi, ed., Huaren shehui yu zongxiang huiguan [Chinese Society and Their Traditional Associations]. (Singapore: Lingzi dazong chuanbo zhongxin, 1996), 47-59. Zhujia is a Chinese term meaning "a couple of scholars." This is a collection from which four brief articles were selected. These four articles all focused on how to name the Chinese abroad, and they show the diversity of opinions. The four authors are Chinese scholars who live in Brunei, Singapore, and the United States.

(5.) Considering this, I greatly appreciated the efforts made by the Center for the Study of the Chinese Southern Diaspora (CSCSD) at Australian National University to propose a study focusing on ethnic minorities in the Chinese diaspora. The conference I have mentioned earlier was one of the results, which called attention to the study of phenomenon of non-Han migrants. Dozens of scholars met together to exchange the studies. However, the CSCSD had ceased to exist soon after the conference and the relevant research proposals therefore cannot be carried on.

(6.) Judith T. Shuval, "Diaspora Migration: Definitional Ambiguities and a Theoretical Paradigm." In International Migration, 38:5 (2000), 42.

(7.) James Clifford, "Diasporas." In Cultural Anthropology, 9:3 (1994), 305.

(8.) Aihwa Ong and Donald M. Nonini, eds., Ungrounded Empires: The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Transnationalism (New York & London: Routledge, 1997).

(9.) Aihwa Ong, Flexible Citizenship, The Cultural Logics of Transnationality (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 1999), 2, 20.

(10.) Adam McKeown, Chinese Migrant Networks and Cultural Changes: Peru, Chicago, Hawaii, 1900-1936 (Chicago & London: the University of Chicago Press, 2001), 10.

(11.) Elizabeth Sinn, "Cohesion and Fragmentation: A County-Level Perspective on Chinese Transnationalism in the 1940s." In Leo Douw, Cen Huang, and Michael Godley, eds., Qiaoxiang Ties: Interdisciplinary Approaches to 'Cultural Capitalism' in South China (London: Kegan Paul, 1999), 85.

(12.) Veronique Poisson, "Migration Space and Transfrontier Groups: The Case of the Zhejiang Diaspora in Europe," paper presented in the workshop "Comparative Studies of Returned Chinese from Japan and Europe" in Shanghai, May 20-21, 2001.

(13.) Tan Chee Beng, "Comments by Tan Chee Beng on ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia." In Leo Suryadinata, ed., Ethnic Chinese as Southeast Asians (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997), 28.

(14.) The Chinese term "astronaut" implies not only that these businessmen leave to work in another country but also that their wives do not accompany them. The implication is meaningful but may not be easily understood by non-Chinese speaking people.

(15.) Cf. Li Minghuan, We Need Two Worlds: Chinese Immigrant Associations in a Western Society (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1999), 15.

(16.) See Zhujia, 1996. (See note 4 above.)

(17.) Benedict Anderson, Long-Distance Nationalism, World Capitalism and the Rise of Identity Politics (Amsterdam: CASA, 1992), 11.

Li Minghuan is a professor at the Institute of Anthropology of Xiamen University in China. She has been engaged in the study of Chinese migrants abroad and the emigrant villages in China. Her doctoral dissertation on the Chinese in the Netherlands, defended at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, was published by Amsterdam University Press in 1999.
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Author:Li, Minghuan
Publication:Chinese America: History and Perspectives
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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