the ocean waves touch, there are overseas Chinese¡¨
a result of migration, often to geographically distant lands, today¡¦s
Chinese people are widely distributed outside China and live in almost
every country of the world. In 1990
almost 37 million Overseas Chinese live in 136 countries,
¡§Overseas Chinese¡¨ being defined here as persons of Chinese ancestry
living outside the People¡¦s Republic of China and Taiwan. There are no
precise figures, since the boundaries of Chineseness shift with
circumstances and self identification, and ethnic origin is often
unrecorded, but the total number of ethnic Chinese outside the mainland
including Taiwan, is probably somewhat over 50 million: 21 million in
Taiwan, 6.5 million in Hong Kong, 20 million in the ASEAN countries, and
the remainder elsewhere around the globe.
profound historical significance and ramification of the migration is in
its linkage with refugees and those in search of economic opportunity.
The weakness of the
late Dynasty Qing had been a main period of migration; most of the
migrants had mortgaged their property and sought to go abroad to search
for fortune when the political instability and poverty circumstances were
becoming worst. The modernization movements in China had forced them into
political dilemma, even though most of them were unwilling to be involved
and/or to challenge the fate of both the local and homeland government.
It is interesting to evaluate why they were forced to support either KMT
or CCP while abroad, from the view of IR theoretical fundamentals.
know the history is to know about the evolution of the world.
Pieterse[2000:386] emphasized: ¡§That
globalisation is a long-term historical process is not the common
assessment of globalization among economists, political scientists or
sociologists, but it is among some historians and anthropologists.¡¨ To explore the question of diaspora, which I am analysing within the context
of international relations, it is importance to look back at the
anthropology constitution in the Southeast Asia region, one that is of a
multiracial, multi-belief society. Comparisons can be made based on the
period when their ascendants came, and the place which they formed their
settlements to examine what exactly discriminate them under this stratum.
Did they play any roles in internal and external relations
respectively within both their host and homeland? If they do, how and what
are the implications it brings to the inter-state relations, host-homeland
and each other in the diasporic network?
chapter will therefore start with a historical introduction and
walkthrough of Chinese diaspora, in particular Chinese diaspora in
Malaysian and neighbouring Southeast Asia.
I will then follow on with a narrower focus on Malaysia¡¦s Chinese
diaspora and how it interacts with its diasporic homeland and other
diasporic communities. In order to obtain up-to-date general feelings of
the Chinese communities in Malaysia, I had embarked on a survey to gauge
the opinion of the younger population group in Malaysia, the results which
are presented in the Appendix. Finally,
I will investigate the implication of Chinese diaspora in IR and search
for possible questions that might arises from that. These will form the
remaining of my chapter.
the early centuries, the Mainland China, called ¡§Zhong Guo¡¨ in
Chinese, translated as the ¡§Middle Kingdom¡¨ or ¡§Centre of the
World¡¨, regarded itself as superior to all others. In those days, for
many centuries, China has not merely expanded their empire to the Middle
East countries, but also exported their political, economical and cultural
influences to Southeast Asia. Throughout history, China has had been a
hegemonic power in Asia, who features dominantly in the commercial and
political connection with those countries.
Based on China¡¦s location (being the ¡¥Centre of the world¡¦),
Southeast Asia situated to the south has been called ¡§Nanyang¡¨,
translated as the ¡§Southern Ocean¡¨, which embraces the South China Sea
and the costal strips of mainland in Southeast Asia and the islands of the
Indonesia and Philippines.
 has described how the Chinese merchants were arriving at the coast
of South China at least three centuries before the Christian era, and were
rapidly established official relations with the trading centres of the
day. Following that, Buddhist pilgrims had came to Southeast Asia while
travelling by sea route to India, stopping and learning at Empire of
Srivijaya, Indonesia. The Chinese took similar routes to the Southeast
Asia, some took regular voyages to the region as a part of the sea trading
networks, and others established settlements in the commercial centres
The national crisis1911 Revolution had raised the
patriotic feeling in those who were concerned for their kith and kin, most
of them looked to the home government as their source of prestige, honour
and status. The overseas Chinese leaders lend support to the two Chinese
modernization movements in terms of financial assistance, manpower, and
the provision of sanctuary for revolutionary refugees. The revolutions¡¦ leaders in China had been trying to accumulate and
campaigned for the support and participation from all the Chinese abroad.
The Chinese government later divided into two separate group of
different mainstream ideology, CCP and KMT. Both tried to mobilize the
Chinese overseas by hailing them as fellow compatriot living abroad.
that post war era, the two hegemonic giant, Russia representing socialism
and United States the champion of democratic system have obviously been
the dominating force in the dictation of politico-economy agenda in IR.
The realist motivation of the forces to balance and expand their own power
has not only ignited the Korean War and Vietnam War, but also in no
uncertain way related to the performance of government in the Southeast
Asia region. Moreover, in the Chinese revolution, the struggle between CCP and
KMT had been raging, and flamed further the political instability in the
region. The founding governments back then were feeling unease with the
state of the societies that had separated into groups promoting the two
main ideologies, especially within the Chinese communities.
mid-1950s, the Chinese Problem had been a cause for serious concerns in
Southeast Asia even though Chinese diasporas have played equally
significance roles toward the road of independence in some of the states.
Authorities were particularly worried due to the affluent state of
the Chinese community with huge economic influence and therefore
significant wealth to affect the direction of the society. Not to mention
the fact that some of this people were influenced previously by the
anti-Japanese movements during the war that were affiliated to the
communist movement. A significant communist penetration into local
organisations might provoke a take-over revolution and threaten the virgin
government. The communist underground activities had threatened the
politico-economy development in Malaya and Indonesia. ASEAN had been
founded to balance power and to maintain regional security among Malaysia,
Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore in 1967. The complication faced by the ASEAN countries in dealing with the
issues related to the Chinese problem, how they deal with it among
themselves and still maintain diplomatic communication with China are
noteworthy elements to be a contribution to the contemporary question of
Today, the worldwide ethnic Chinese diaspora transnational network is one
of the most extensive in existence in IPE. Wherever they live, they were
forming linkages in the Chinese communities, and would normally
establishes ¡§Chinatown¡¨ to advocate the features and traditional
cultures of ethnic China. Most of the Chinese communities emigrated from
China in the end of the eighteen-century particularly in the Southeast
Asia region. Here, some of them and their later generations had undergone
severe form of discriminations or assimilation and it was difficult to
clarify their identity to be ethnic Chinese. Not withstanding this fact,
they too were offspring of the Chinese and cannot be left out as a part,
albeit a tiny one, of the diasporic culture.
Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir [1999:33] pointed out that: ¡§The
overseas Chinese in Malaysia and other Asian countries, working as
merchants or petty shop-owners, have always had an almost natural flair
for business and an urge to acquire a higher level of material wealth.¡¨ Thus,
as a consequent of this, for most country where Chinese were presents,
including significantly Malaysia, it became essential for the government
to aim for equitable distribution of wealth to avoid racial resentment
like the tragic racial riot of Malaysia which had happened in May 13,
1969. The root cause of this
is economic disparity and unequal economic development of the different
ethnic groups. These types of systematic discrimination however were to
become the thorn in the diasporic communities everywhere.
Wang [1992:287-300] has observed ubiquitous Chinese minorities on five
continents and pointed that nowhere else but in Southeast Asia are
relations between the indigenous people and the ethnic Chinese so delicate
or so prone to violent outbreaks. He considered this to be due to the
simple facts of racial difference and socio-cultural separateness that
were commonly explored as resentment by the non-Chinese; creating the
feeling of ¡§have-nots¡¨ and hammering in the awareness about the
Morgenthau political morality have contributed to the political thinking
and had been approached by the Southeast Asia governments, when awareness
of Chinese communities dominant hold in the domestic economy and their
taking of a larger part of the states wealth developed. Despite conceding
to them some fundamental nationality rights, ruthless strategies have been
used to limit their economic resources or power through proper
implementation of various policies. Chinese communities have undergoing
not only adverse-preferential treatment in the economic sector, but also
restriction in keeping on with their cultural identity. They suffered
barriers and prohibitions that limit their ability to continuously
sustained their identity as ethnic Chinese, under the name of
assimilations and integrations. Educations too become a constantly fought
In regard to the social features, the major racial cleavages into Malay,
Chinese, and Indian coincide largely with cleavages in religion, language
and way of life, thus making consensus especially difficult. The cleavages
in Malaya were probably as deep as those in almost any other country, a
complicating factor being that the two main groups, Malays and Chinese,
were comparable in size. The cleavages were also apparent, perhaps
especially apparent, among the rebels during the Emergency, in spite of
the claim that the rebellion had a national character. To make things
worse the cleavages were intensified by external pressures and
attractions, particularly on some Chinese from Mainland China and Taiwan
and on some Malays from Indonesia. It could be claimed that in Malaya
there were far more Chinese nationalism, Indonesian nationalism and Indian
nationalism than there was Malayan nationalism.
the post war period, most Malaysian Chinese had pledged their loyalty to
the sojourner country, even though the majority of the Communist Party of
Malaya (CPM) members were ethnic Chinese. CPM was formed to fight against
Japanese occupations. Later it evolved into an organisation to guard the
colonial power influence in Southeast Asia. It was also penetrated by the
China socialist political ideology. Victor Purcell [1965:190-198]
pointed out that the Chinese in Malaya were trying to come to terms with
their environment and to identify themselves with the countries in which
they live, but the cultural pulls of China were the greatest obstacle to
the achievement of this aim. Communism is one thing and Chinese
the law of jungle, it is more secure and functional to be an ally to the
giant rather than an adversary. Malaysian government exchanged diplomatic
recognition with the People¡¦s Republic of China (PRC) in May 1974, and
was forced to end the official diplomatic relation with Republic of China
(ROC) in Taiwan. However Malaysian government were facing guerrilla threat
from Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) and had restricted and prohibited
Malaysian from going to China. Thus, most Malaysian Chinese students who
were graduates from the Chinese Independence High School had to pursue
their further study in Taiwan¡¦s university. Only
by 1989 when CPM had officially been declared as collapsed did Malaysian
government lifted the severely strict rules to those who intend to visit
valuable to look back at the official term used by the Chinese government
to identity Chinese abroad. When the CCP became the central power of the
China, it emphasized that, ¡§the
essence of Overseas Chinese work is domestic overseas Chinese affair work.¡¨
And it sought to use the Overseas Chinese as a means of communicating
with, and influencing the Chinese abroad in the mid-1950s. Fitzgerald
 said that CCP¡¦s motives remained vague while dealing in the
Overseas Chinese policy that has always been responding to changes in
domestic policy. In addition to taking the responsibility for all the
ethnic Chinese abroad, even they cannot realistically nurture the notion
that they will have any direct influence or jurisdiction over the
¡§Chinese resident abroad.¡¨ Therefore, CPP¡¦s foreign policy was essentially related to
Overseas Chinese Policy whilst facing the challenges from the KMT, which
was also trying to mobilize overseas Chinese against the communist
 has identified and categorised Chinese migrants who were living and
working abroad using a historical perspective into four main patterns
since the1800s. Firstly, the term Chinese trader (Hua Shang) refers to the
merchant and artisans who expanded their fortune abroad and might have
settled down before 1850 in Japan, Philippines, Java, and Thailand;
secondly, the term Chinese coolie (Hua Gong) refer to the coolie labour
from the peasant class who rushed to North America and Australia to pursue
their golden fortune in the beginning of the industrialization after 1850,
afterwards in Southeast Asia; thirdly, Chinese sojourner (Hua Qiao) used
under the political, legal or ideological context soon become generally
used to apply to all those previously known as Chinese trader and Chinese
coolie in the end of the nineteen century; and fourth Chinese descent or
re-migrant (Hua Yi), a term liberalized to the foreign nationals of
Chinese descent who are born
abroad in twentieth century.
This also includes some who were born in China, Taiwan or Hong Kong but
have acquired foreign citizenship. Other terms used to clarify Chinese
includes Chinese person (Hua Ren), Chinese citizen (Hua Min), Hua Meng
(Chinese descendant) and those who were the first generation sojourner
abroad traditionally called themselves as the Tang Ren (People of the Tang
dynasty). These four patterns
principles implied that wherever
they were, they were part of Chinese nation.
government policy for the Chinese abroad can be briefly traced as in the
diagram below, which I compiled from Wang [1991 & 1992] and other
articles. It can be seen in the diagram how the Chinese government changes
the way it term the overseas Chinese in relations to its policy at that
The codifications of the Chinese
fourteenth to eighteenth century, most of the Chinese sojourner living
abroad were under China official arrangement (including those who were
unwilling to move away), as in the case for Fukian Taiwanese under Cheng
Cheng Kung, leading to their permanent migrations and settling down in
Taiwan. Thus, they were under the assumption that they were sojourner
living abroad because they were not criminals banished away; nor did they
migrated without China official permission.
During the late of 18th century and the
beginning of 19th century, new events and factors lead to a new
change of term for all the Chinese overseas.
Among others was the move by the British 1844 who declared that all
the Straits settlements, which has mostly Chinese populations, were under
Also, following a series of signed treaties with the western
Imperial force and Japan, China had lost a substantial power and control,
and can no longer officially protect the Chinese abroad. The European
power had arranged a lot of the Chinese (coolie trade) to be transported
to their colonial countries to fuel the rapid industrializations.
The new term declared, ¡§Overseas Chinese¡¨, had the purpose of
instilling in those Chinese a sense of obligations and accountability that
they have to China. It was hoped that this would restore their
¡§Chineseness¡¨ and their sense of patriotism to defend against the
foreign power that sought to topple China. This is also a term used to
claim overseas Chinese as theirs, without regards for the principle of jus
sanguinis. Naturally this term also caused uneasiness among the later
nations, causing doubt on the loyalty of the ethnic Chinese populations of
The beginning of twenty-first century sees the
increased usage of the term diaspora, predominantly by the academic
community. Is this the right term forward, one to replace ¡¥Overseas
Chinese¡¦? Or should they
simply be known as ¡¥Hua Ren¡¦ or Chinese People? This will be answered
as time progress, but as what I would explain later, the usage of the term
Chinese diaspora has many implications. First however, we shall look at
the online survey (Appendix A), which help us to understand further the
sentiments of current generation Malaysian Chinese. The conclusion of the
Most of the populations under survey are professional
younger generations of the country. They
were born in Malaysia and all have received exposure since their childhood
from the local elements and conditioning, and build up their love and
loyalty for the country. The results from question two, four, five and ten
in particular showed that many of them are loyal to Malaysia and do not
have a great deal of affinity for either China or Taiwan. They consider
Malaysia be their country and homeland, and they are Malaysian with
Chinese culture. In general
most believe that Chinese have important roles to play in the
international scene, both economic and political. However, they showed
that they still maintain cultural link in particular, and kinship feelings
with other Chinese else where in the world. Most respondents however were
not particularly concern with the happenings in either Taiwan or China.
All these results are reflective of the vibes of the younger
Chinese generation who had broke off their ties with their ancestral home.
and cultural flowering by an ethnic minority especially one with global
connections, always risks arousing hostility. When seemingly legitimated
by nationalism, and fuelled by inequality, such hostility can be a
powerful destructive force¡K¡¨
sentence sum up the myriad of issues that was faced by the Chinese
diaspora. In IR, these issues
raised a number of questions that would affect the analysis of a diaspora
related event. Here, I will summarise some of the question surrounding the
diasporic concerns of International Relations.
Identity is an attribute important to humankind due
to its uniqueness. We describe a person by its face, name character or
background but the best clarification of any individual being will have to
depends on how they identity themselves.
Such is the case with the diasporic population. Their identities
become a game of what they were perceived as and they perceive themselves
to be. In the domestic and world politics, these become an all important
issue. Do the diaspora of certain nationality consider themselves to be
such? And does their state consider them so?
According to Wang , the Chinese have not had a
grasp for the concept of identity, for them it is just having Chineseness,
of being Chinese and of becoming un-Chinese. It was the work of later
social scientists that increases the use of identity.
He believes that there were at least two ways that the Chinese saw
their Chineseness, the Chinese Nationalist identity and the historical
identity. Before the 2nd world war, the question of identity
was a simple one, all who thought of themselves as Chinese were Chinese
who were conscious of their family system, their place of origin in China
and their link with other Chinese in China and other part of the region.
This is the historical identity.
This identity was found acceptable to Southeast Asia countries
because it is largely backward looking and not assertive.
Later however, new nationalist from China built upon
the idea of min-tze (race and nation) and stress the idea that the Chinese
racial origins should lead them to identify with the nationalism in China.
This became the Chinese nationalist identity which becomes stronger and
stronger due to Chinese propaganda mechanism and educational policy. This
new nationalist identity is one that most of the new indigenous political
leaders found alarming. Although
in most of the Southeast Asian countries, due to the small number of
Chinese, the nationalist identity posed no threat, in place like Malaya
where Chinese were nearly half the population, this become an important
issue. The strong local Chinese community was on the whole willing to
abandon Chinese nationalist identity and replace it with the new Malayan
identity, but had at the same time developed a powerful sense of communal
identity to assert the community¡¦s right to share power in the country.
This created tensions in the state and lead to other problems both
domestically and in the wider international context.
The question of identity in Chinese diaspora is an
important one because it affects the political status of the Chinese and
the way nation state deals with them.
In international relations, these translate to difficulties in
demarcating the borderline of states and raised questions regarding the
practice of defining state as a unitary actor.
And also, they bring forth the paradox of nationality and loyalty.
 identified and broke down the attitude of the overseas Chinese
during the early post-war period into three categories; Community A who
were concerned with politics and foreign policies in China; community B
who were concerned with their community politics; community C who were
committed to some sort of Malaya loyalty, participated in their sojourner
climb for power along with the dominants, regardless whether dominant
political actors were the indigenous, colonial, or nationalist. For all
the above, regardless of whether they participated or supported revolution
in china, going home to China was not an alternative.
They acquired their citizenship either by birth (ius
soli) or by naturalisation (ius sanguinis).
In the political world, ¡§nationality
is a legal and political tie, which binds individuals to a state and
renders them subject to its personal jurisdiction.¡¨
The paradox of nationality exist because the Chinese
diaspora who had settled all their life in the country of sojourn, and has
neither the possibility nor the inclination to return to their homeland
were not treated as the proper citizens of the host country. They are
neither nationalities of the home country, nor proper member of the host
country. They became part of transnational communities and yet
geographically they are not dissimilar from the so-called natives of the
The question whether an individual is given the
nationality for a given state is determined in accordance with the law of
the state under various discrimination policies to restrict their right as
a nationality. The diaspora always felt doubtful of their citizens¡¦
right and privileges, even though they might abide by the constitution and
law, respect all the social rules, pay taxes and served any responsibility
of the civil duties. But they cannot obtained full nationality right
because they are of transnational communities and officially, the power to
be thinks that they will stand with the side of their descendant homeland
in time of conflicts. Also, the fact that the homeland, China/Taiwan still
do take interest in their action and welfare is not contributing to their
paradox of Nationality. Where else but in diasporic situation, can you
find a case where one country taking immense interests in another
In this paradox of nationality, the Chinese diaspora
become the victim. Their transnational status means that they were mostly
deprived of their full citizen rights in their host land and new home, yet
their assimilations with the local cultures also means that there were to
get further apart from their traditional values. From and international
relations point of view, the problem become one of determining the correct
categorisation of a state, whether a unitary independent status assumption
can be a valid one. That will be further discussed later. But this also
leads to the paradox of loyalty, which come next.
Contemporary transnationalization that comprises of
elements of economic or political migrations has become increasingly
complicated. In IR, international law has constrained the displacement of
the peoples among states, but most countries will still open their door to
people who brought investments or who were professional as their
migrations can contribute to the economic status of the country.
This creates a struggle for the political actors, between capitalists and
realists as it brings contradiction in the form of economic prospecst
versus security issues of the states. Even for a leader of state, the
questions of nationality were be considered to be the potentially most
harmful, for example Thailand Prime minister Banharn Silpa-archa (an
ethnic Chinese) was accused of falsifying his birth records to make him
appears as Thai national whereas he was actually born in China.
The question of loyalty exists when there are no
trusts. At the beginning of
the post-colonial eras in Malaysia and Indonesia, due to their
affiliations with china, most Chinese were regarded with suspicion and as
the Fifth Columnist of China or Taiwan. In Indonesia, after an abortive
coup attempt blamed on Indonesian Communist Party against Sukarno¡¦s
government in 1965, many Chinese were massacred during a free-for-all
In Malaysia, the question of loyalty leads to frozen relationship with
China where the local Chinese were restricted access to China because they
cannot be trusted enough not to be recruited by China to be subversive
agent of communist. In the early years, this issue also became the excuse
to deny citizenship to many Chinese.
Wang  identified five points which caused
revival in China¡¦s interest on Overseas Chinese in the end of the 20th
century, among them is ¡§¡Kto instil in all the overseas Chinese who
has taken up other nationality, the sense of ethnicity and to respond
warmly and encourage such sentiments¡¨. It is such interest that
would be alarmed the local indigenous leader. However, it should be
recognised that ¡§diaspora communities are not necessarily anti-nationalist, indeed they
may yearn for or actively support nationalist claims to a homeland
somewhere else¡¨ might be reflecting most of the diasporic psychology.
itself has provided sufficient empirical data to suggest that a
correlation exist between the question of national identity and the
success or failure of democratisation. When a state disintegrates,
democratisation is hard to consolidate, and so is the task to maintain the
balance of power politically or economically. Malaysia is not excluded
from this; the ethnic cleavages and conflict have provided an excuse for
the imposition of increasingly authoritarian measures to prevent
secessionist movements effectively. Ethnic relations cannot be discussed
and officially deemed ¡§sensitive issues¡¨, restricted under Internal
Security Act (ISA) in Malaysia.
When the conflict is reinforced by religious
divisions, it forms the ground for separatist movements.
Ethnicity feed authoritarian nationalism and weakens the state.
Political security become unstable and it will be easy to pinpoint the
lack of it to regular ethnic cleavages and confrontation between states in
international world politics. The minorities communities which although
have dominated most of the economic interest of state but without any
military might or policies influences will still bring to the insecurity
of the state actor who perceived the existent of this communities as a
competitor to their livelihood.
For any state, the political security has always been
the main agenda because their political leaders ultimately determine
states and their policy. A
loss of control in the domestic political structure can means a total
reversal in their standing. Political security is determined depending on
the major ideology of their system. Chinese diaspora become the main
problem in SEA during the cold war, not merely in economic term as it was
also related to the political issues.
In that time most of the ethnic Chinese who were living abroad have
been influence by the ideology of the socialist when they return to China
to pursue their education, or through the use of the textbook published by
China in sojourner countries. To counter that, almost all of the SEA local
government had enforced assimilation policies and restricted the freedom
of its nationals to go to China. Even today, Malaysian students who were
studying in China were interviewed by the Home Ministry each time they
come home, and been asked some simple questions about their time in China.
This phenomenon had implied that international world
would always be on guard for their regime especially from states with
different ideology. For the state actor however, they cannot refuse to
have diplomatic tie with the giant power of Asia, China.
Especially when they were facing internal political pressure from
other ethnic, and they have to attempt to gain ethnic Chinese support for
their government. Official trips to Beijing have been one such strategy
used to be consolidate support in ethnic community, for example Malaysia
Prime Minister Mahathir has played the ¡§Chinese card¡¨ before the
election last year; and Indonesia President Wahid had tried to reach out
to a domestic audience of ethnic Chinese Indonesians after anti-Chinese
rioting, by paying a visit to Beijing.
Military government in Myanmar have opened the
borderline door to the Chinese who are experienced intense flooding in
Southern China 2 years ago, because without Chinese diaspora support, the
military regime might be ended. In Thailand, President
Jiang Zemin has praised Thai leaders for implementing ¡§nationality
but sino-Thais candidate have been criticized in the election.
Their political future will have to depend on the disposition of Thai
economy and on the nature of the relations with the China.
All this showed that diasporic issues could become a
part of the political security concerns and from there it can affect the
international relations of the states involved.
The Malaysian Chinese survey showed that most of the
target population believe Chinese diaspora has an important role in the
economic sectors. Not surprisingly, Chinese diaspora had always been known
as ¡§Predator¡¨ of wealth, because of their capacity in dealing and
strengthening their property. Even though Chinese diaspora is not
considered ¡§problem¡¨ in the ASEAN in this regards, they do have other
significant and crucial roles in the regional economy development. Chinese
diaspora constitutes only 6 percent of the population of the five ASEAN
countries (excluding Brunei), but account for 70 percent of the capital.
In Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, where Chinese make up less
than 10 percent of the population, their capital estimated account for the
majority of the total capital of all listed companies.
A popular quote that ¡§The Chinese constitute
only 3.5 percent of the population but control 70 percent of Indonesia¡¦s
has engendered unity and caused resentment between the indigenous people
and ethnic Chinese. Chinese diasporas in Indonesia were stereotyped as
rich minority and caused racial riots
in the period of financial crisis. In 1998, Chinese Indonesian fled and
took out estimated an US$30 billion from Indonesia. Surharto 32-years
regime had been over toppled and his successor President Habibe has
underestimated the economic contribution from Indonesian Chinese and
Chinese diasporic investors from Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and
Malaysia. Thus the existence of diaspora gives rise to the question of
economic security. The economic wealth commanded by the Chinese can cause
boom and bust in the Southeast Asian. Securing economic security requires
delicate handling of ethnic relationship and international relation with
China, Taiwan and other diasporic state.
Chinese diaspora is a powerful giant in economic arena but vulnerable in
the political stages. Nevertheless, the local government will need their
capitalist network and abilities to maintain the state power in
Chinese capitalism uses their network to collaborate and establishes their
business link through the same kinship ties.
Overseas Chinese patriots are regarded as a constructive force for
China¡¦s economic development and as a bridge across the Taiwan Strait
that will lead toward political unification. China aimed to mobilize
Overseas Chinese support via the network of the educational centre. Most
of the Overseas Chinese Students after returning to their home countries
worked as teachers, cultural worked and professionals, and many of them
were involved in businesses and politics. They became the vanguards of
Taiwan¡¦s business penetration into Southeast Asian countries. Nanyang
Daily News reported that thirty thousands Malaysian who are Taiwan
Universities¡¦ Alumni have become the bridging contacts for the
Taiwan-Malaysia business link, and effectively served as a bridge for
Taiwan¡¦s investment in the region.
Taiwan authorities have established Overseas Chinese
Affairs Commission (OCAC), which functioned as the main organisation to
mobilize all the Chinese around the globe to communicate, and collaborates
culturally or economically. Singapore on the other hand has established
The Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry that functioned as the
first computer network to link ethnic Chinese executive across the world
and will be used to promote cultural and economic rather than political
The capitalism network of Chinese diaspora has been endowed with three
competitive factors: speed, knowledge, and guanxi (relations),
guanxi has notably lead to their government forging diplomatic relations
with China in order to expand their economic activities to China.
Diaspora Chinese have guanxi mostly with their own
province (based on their ascendant came from and what dialect is);
kinship/clan (according of surname) and others form of association. The
guanxi networks are presented as crucial to the nature of ethnic Chinese
business and basically represent the framework of the overall view as
nepotism, cronyism and corruption. Tracy  has investigated diaspora
capitalism network among Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia tycoons who
sought to form partnerships to explore the various economic areas for
their business empire. For instance, the long-standing informal alliance
between the two richest men in Malaysia Robert Kuok and Indonesia Liem
Sioe Liong who are both Hokkien, and Mr Liem and Malaysia Genting founder
Lim Goh Tong have ties in the kinship (both Hokkian and same surname);
Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka Shing and President of Bangkok Bank Chatri
Sophononpanich, both are Teochew.
Chinese diaspora also served as the conduit for
international investment. Wilson Nababan speaks frankly when he says: ¡§we
need Chinese business to attract foreign investment.¡¨ He is the
president of the credit analysis firm CISI Raya Utama in Jakarta who makes
the statement after Indonesian Chinese remove large amount of fund from
the state following riot in several cities.
Chinese Diaspora in Vietnam was seen by the Hanoi government to have a
bigger role in the country economy, because of their Chinese community
links with Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore that can help promote foreign
investment. In China, Chinese diaspora capitalist contributed over 80% of
foreign direct investment, and tycoons such as Li Ka Sing whose companies
are now involved in building a container port in southern China and Robert
Kuok, a Malaysian entrepreneur and partner in the Beijing World Trade
Centre which is the largest commercial property project in China were
serving the role as political advisers to the government in Beijing.
diaspora in ASEAN are becoming a good partnership or employee for Newly
Industry Countries (NIC) since 1980s. For example, Taiwan which was ranked
as the second largest foreign investor and the fourth largest trade
partnership in Malaysia up to the end of 1999.
Taiwan businessmen prefer to invest in Malaysia because of the
Chinese in Malaysia who spoke same language, avoiding the problem of
communication. Similarly, they prefer to employ ethnic Chinese in their
business in Indonesia.
analysis in this chapter showed that the present day Chinese diaspora no
longer have the same inclination towards China as what they used to have.
To them, nationalism is about their own sojourn country which they
consider their homeland. This was backup with results from my survey in
Appendix A where most respondent shows little interest in the going-on in
China and Taiwan.
diaspora also presents proposition to the analysis of IR. I identified three main implications of Chinese diaspora in IR,
namely The question of identity which explored the issues of being
Chinese and having multiple identities, The question of security
which consider the Southeast Asian nations¡¦ dilemma in having diasporic
Chinese as their citizens and The question of transnational influence
where the diasporic network impart profound significance to the societal
analysis of International Relations. Having established the existence of
questions of diaspora, my next task is to focus on linking the theory and
discourse the contribution of diaspora to International Relations.