The Many Chinese Abroad

The Chinese diaspora is vast and varied, scattered in countries large and small, developed or not. With this immense diversity, it is impossible to generalize Chinese living overseas, said NUS Professor Gungwu Wang, author of The Chinese Overseas.

During a public talk sponsored by the Center for Global Asia, Professor Wang divided the Chinese diaspora into what he defined as a “set of expectations,” namely, what foreign governments expect from the Chinese nationals moving in or out of their countries, and what the disapora expects of the countries they move to.

Wang said that the Chinese government seeks, of late, to maintain relationships with overseas Chinese nationals, in order to leverage diplomatic connections with other countries. However, for Chinese migrants within the borders of other countries, expectations vary — for instance, the Chinese impact and experience in Malaysia and Singapore dramatically differ.  It might mean retaining a muted Chinese identity for political reasons in Singapore, or struggling for the freedom of receiving  Chinese education in Malaysia.  

Meanwhile in the United States, Australia, and European nations, the hopes and needs of Chinese immigrants vary wildly as well, as they are often informed by stereotypes such as  the “smart, hardworking Asian” to different levels of discrimination.

But what do Chinese immigrants expect from their new homes abroad? Wang said they are motivated by the pursuit of greater opportunities, whether venturing out for educational or to lift their economic status.

(Text by: Mari Allison)

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