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The Chinese of South-East Asia

23 November 1992

Co-existence or control?Many Chinese have worked and lived in the countries of South-East Asia for generations, and are part of the much larger diaspora of ethnic Chinese worldwide. They make their livings generally from business, farming, fishing: while a few enjoy high profile wealth, the vast majority do not.

The Chinese of South-East Asia shows just how varied are the experiences of the ethnic Chinese in the ten states of the region. Some coexist reasonably well with the majority population in their country; elsewhere, ethnic tensions have brought outbreaks of violence and discrimination against them. Some communities have limits placed on their access to Chinese language education; others have not. Some governments have encouraged ethnic Chinese participation in the economic arena while others have controlled or restricted their business activities.

This report illustrates how much the future of South-East Asia’s ethnic Chinese is bound together – politically, economically and culturally – with the majority population and other minority ethnic groups within each country. Written by four experts on the region, this is an essential survey of the history and present circumstances of the ethnic Chinese as they strive to foster and enjoy stability, trust and growth.

Please note that the terminology in the fields of minority rights and indigenous peoples’ rights has changed over time. MRG strives to reflect these changes as well as respect the right to self-identification on the part of minorities and indigenous peoples. At the same time, after over 50 years’ work, we know that our archive is of considerable interest to activists and researchers. Therefore, we make available as much of our back catalogue as possible, while being aware that the language used may not reflect current thinking on these issues.

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