- Overseas Chinese
Overseas ChineseLee Kuan-YewLee Hsien-Loong Total population 40,000,000 (estimates) Regions with significant populations Majority population Singapore 3,610,400  Christmas Island
981  Thailand 7,053,240  Indonesia 7,000,000  Malaysia 6,324,000  United States 3,796,000  Canada 1,318,000  Vietnam 1,309,000  Peru 1,300,000  Philippines 1,170,000  Burma 1,121,000  Cambodia 858,459  South Korea 696,861  Australia 669,896  Japan 655,377  Russia 500,000  United Kingdom 400,000  South Africa 350,000  Argentina 320,000  France 233,000  India 196,000  Laos 190,000  United Arab Emirates 180,000  Brazil 156,000  New Zealand 147,570  Italy 144,885  Panama 135,000  Spain 134,022  Cuba 114,242  Netherlands 110,000  Germany 109,000  Languages
Languages of China and various languages of the countries they inhabit
Related ethnic groups
Overseas Chinese (traditional Chinese: 海外華人; simplified Chinese: 海外华人; pinyin: Hǎiwài Huárén) are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside China. People of partial Chinese ancestry living outside the China may also consider themselves Overseas Chinese.
The term "Overseas Chinese" can refer narrowly to those of Han Chinese ethnicity, or more broadly, to all 56 recognized ethnic groups in China; Chinese people in the sense of Zhonghua minzu. For example, members of the Tibetan diaspora may travel to China on passes granted to certain Overseas Chinese. 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, although they are not categorized as ethnic Han Chinese. Under this definition, "ethnic minority" overseas Chinese number about 7 million, or about 8.4% of the total overseas population.
- 1 Terminology
- 2 History
- 3 Overseas Chinese experience
- 4 Language
- 5 Relationship with China
- 6 Current numbers
- 7 Statistics
- 8 Returning
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
The Chinese language has various terms equivalent to the English "Overseas Chinese" which refers to Chinese citizens residing in countries other than China: Huáqiáo (simplified Chinese: 华侨; traditional Chinese: 華僑; pinyin: Huáqiáo) or Hoan-kheh in Hokkien (Chinese: 番客) .
Huáyì (simplified Chinese: 华裔; traditional Chinese: 華裔; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Hôa-è) refers to ethnic Chinese residing outside of China.  Another often-used term is 海外华人 (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.
Overseas Chinese who are ethnically Han Chinese, such as Cantonese, Hokkien, or Hakka refer to Overseas Chinese as 唐人 (Tángrén), pronounced tòhng yàn in Cantonese, Tn̂g-lâng in Hokkien, and tong nyin in Hakka. Literally, it means Tang people, a reference to Tang dynasty China when it was ruling China proper. It should be noted that this term is commonly used by the Cantonese, Hakka and Hokkien as a colloquial reference to the Chinese people, and has little relevance to the ancient dynasty.
The Chinese people have a long history of migrating overseas. One of the migrations dates back to the Ming dynasty when Zheng He (1371–1435) became the envoy of Ming. He sent people - many of them Cantonese and Hokkien - to explore and trade in the South China Sea and in the Indian Ocean.
Waves of immigration
Different waves of immigration led to subgroups among overseas Chinese such as the new and old immigrants in Southeast Asia, North America, Oceania, the Caribbean, Latin America, South Africa and Russia.
In the 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 surge in emigration as a result of the poverty and ruin caused by the Taiping rebellion. The Qing Empire was forced to allow its subjects to work overseas under colonial powers. Many Hokkien chose to work in Southeast Asia (where they had earlier links starting from the Ming era), as did the Cantonese. The city of Taishan in Guangdong province was the source for many of the economic migrants. For the countries in North America and Australasia, great numbers of laborers were needed in the dangerous tasks of gold mining and railway construction. Widespread famine in Guangdong impelled many Cantonese to work in these countries to improve the living conditions of their relatives. Some overseas Chinese were sold[by whom?] to South America during the Punti-Hakka Clan Wars (1855–1867) in the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong. After World War II many people from the New Territories in Hong Kong emigrated to the UK (mainly England) and to the Netherlands to earn a better living.
From the mid-19th century onward, emigration has been directed primarily to Western countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and the nations of Western Europe; as well as to Peru where they are called tusán, Panama, 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 from the 1950s to the 1980s, a period during which the PRC placed severe restrictions on the movement of its citizens. In 1984, 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, USA, Latin America and other parts of the world. The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 further accelerated the migration. The wave calmed after Hong Kong's transfer of sovereignty in 1997. In addition, many citizens of Hong Kong hold citizenships or have current visas in other countries so if the need arises, they can leave Hong Kong at short notice. In fact, after the Tiananmen Square incident, the lines for immigration visas increased at every consulate in Hong Kong. More recent Chinese presences have developed in Europe, where they number nearly a million, and in Russia, they number over 600,000, concentrated in Russian Far East. Chinese who emigrated to Vietnam beginning in the 18th century are referred to as Hoa.
It is estimated that only 26,700 of the old Chinese community now remain in South Korea. However, in recent years[when?], immigration from mainland China has increased; 624,994 persons of Chinese nationality have immigrated to South Korea, including 443,566 of ethnic Korean descent.
In recent years, the People's Republic of China has built increasingly stronger ties with African nations. As of August 2007, there were an estimated 750,000 Chinese nationals working or living for extended periods in different African countries. An estimated 200,000 ethnic Chinese live in South Africa. In a 2007 New York Times article, Chad Chamber of Commerce Director estimated an "influx of at least 40,000 Chinese in coming years" to Chad. As of 2006[update] as many as 40,000 Chinese lived in Namibia, an estimated 80,000 Chinese in Zambia and 50,000 Chinese in Nigeria. As many as 100,000 Chinese live and work across Angola. As of 2009[update] 35,000 Chinese migrant workers lived in Algeria.
Russia’s main Pacific port and naval base of Vladivostok, once closed to foreigners, as of 2010[update] bristles with Chinese markets, restaurants and trade houses. Experts predict that the Chinese diaspora in Russia will increase to at least 10 million by 2010 and Chinese may become the dominant ethnic group in the Russian Far East region 20 to 30 years from now. Other experts discount such stories estimating the numbers of Chinese in Russia at less than half a million, most of whom are temporary traders.
A growing Chinese community in Germany consists of around 76,000 people as of 2010[update]. An estimated 15,000 to 30,000 Chinese live in Austria, including a significant Chinese community in Vienna.
The Chinese in Southeast Asian countries have established themselves in commerce and finance. In North America, Europe and Oceania, occupations are diverse and impossible to generalize; ranging from catering to significant ranks in medicine, the arts, and academia.
Overseas Chinese experience
The Chinese usually identify a person by ethnic origin instead of nationality. As long as the person is of Chinese descent, that person is considered Chinese, and if that person lives outside of China, that person is overseas Chinese. The majority of PRC Chinese do not understand the overseas Chinese experience of being a minority, as ethnic Han Chinese comprise approximately 92% of the population.
Overseas Chinese have sometimes experienced hostility and discrimination.
In countries with small Chinese minorities, the economic disparity can be remarkable. For example, in 1998, ethnic Chinese made up just 1% of the population of the Philippines and 3% of the population in Indonesia, but controlled 40% of the Philippines private economy and 70% of the Indonesian private economy. The book World on Fire, describing the Chinese as a "market-dominant minority", notes that "Chinese market dominance and intense resentment amongst the indigenous majority is characteristic of virtually every country in Southeast Asia except Thailand and Singapore".
This asymmetrical economic position has incited anti-Chinese sentiment among the poorer majorities. Sometimes the anti-Chinese attitudes turn violent, such as the May 13 Incident in Malaysia in 1969 and the Jakarta riots of May 1998 in Indonesia, in which more than 2,000 people died mostly rioters burned to death in a shopping mall. During the colonial era, some genocides killed ten thousands of Chinese.
During the Indonesian killings of 1965–66, in which more than 500,000 people died, ethnic Chinese were killed and their properties looted and burned as a result of anti-Chinese racism on the excuse that Dipa "Amat" Aidit had brought the PKI closer to China. The anti-Chinese legislation was in the Indonesian constitution until 1998.
A major point of friction is the apparent tendency of overseas Chinese to segregate themselves into a subculture. For example, the anti-Chinese Kuala Lumpur Racial Riots of 13 May 1969 and Jakarta Riots of May 1998 were believed to have been motivated by these racially-biased perceptions. In 2006, rioters damaged shops owned by Chinese-Tongans in Nukuʻalofa. Chinese migrants were evacuated from the riot-torn Solomon Islands.
Ethnic politics can be found to motivate both sides of the debate. In Malaysia, Overseas Chinese tend to support equal and meritocratic treatment on the expectation that they would not be discriminated against in the resulting competition for government contracts, university places, etc., whereas many "Bumiputra" ("native sons") Malays oppose this on the grounds that their group needs such protections in order to retain their patrimony. These are carried out through affirmative actions. The question of to what extent ethnic Malays, Chinese, or others are "native" to Malaysia is a sensitive political one. It is currently a taboo for Chinese politicians to raise the issue of Bumiputra protections in parliament, as this would be deemed ethnic incitement.
Many of the overseas Chinese who worked on railways in North America in the 19th century suffered from racial discrimination in Canada and the United States. Although discriminatory laws have been repealed or are no longer enforced today, both countries had at one time introduced statutes that barred Chinese from entering the country, for example the United States Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (repealed 1943) or the Canadian Chinese Immigration Act, 1923 (repealed 1947).
Overseas Chinese vary widely as to their degree of assimilation, their interactions with the surrounding communities (see Chinatown), and their relationship with China. Thailand has the largest overseas Chinese community and is also the most successful case of full assimilation. For over 400 years, Thai-Chinese have largely intermarried and assimilated with their compatriots. The present Thai monarch, Chakri Dynasty, is founded by King Rama I who himself is partly Chinese. His Predecessor, King Taksin of Thonburi dynastry, is the son of Chinese immigrant from Guangdong Province and is born with Chinese name. In Myanmar, the Chinese rarely intermarry (even amongst different Chinese linguistic groups), but have largely adopted the Burmese culture whilst maintaining Chinese culture affinities. Between 1965 to 1993, the affairs of state once were prevent to those with Chinese name, yielded the number of people switched to the local term instead in Cambodia. Indonesia, and Myanmar were among the countries that do not allow birth names to be registered in foreign languages, including Chinese. But since 2003, the Indonesian government has allowed overseas Chinese to use their Chinese name or using their Chinese family name on their birth certificate. In Vietnam, Chinese names are pronounced with Sino-Vietnamese readings. For example, the name of the Chinese president, 胡锦涛 (pinyin: Hú Jǐntāo), would be transcribed as "Hồ Cẩm Đào". 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, Singapore and Brunei, 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 on 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'. The Chinese have also brought a cultural influence to some other countries such as Vietnam, where many Chinese customs have been adopted by native Vietnamese.
The usage of Chinese languages by overseas Chinese has been determined by a large number of factors, including their ancestry, their migrant ancestors' "regime of origin", assimilation through generational changes, and official policies of their country of residence. The general trend is - increase of Mandarin-speaking Chinese among the new arrivals, making it the most common language of chinatowns.
Within Southeast Asia, the language situation of overseas Chinese varies greatly even amongst neighboring nations.
In Singapore, a nation with an ethnic Chinese majority population, Mandarin is recognized as one of its official languages, along with simplified Chinese characters, in contrast to other overseas Chinese communities which almost exclusively used traditional Chinese characters until the 1990s, when nationals of the PRC began to emigrate in substantial numbers and brought with them the simplified Chinese characters. Although ethnic Chinese in Singapore are predominantly of Hokkien descent, the government of Singapore discourages the usage of non-Mandarin Chinese languages through the Speak Mandarin Campaign. The official policy in Singapore also has an impact on neighboring Johor, in southern Peninsular Malaysia, where Mandarin is predominantly spoken among the Chinese communities there. As the Singapore government actively promotes English as the common language of the multiracial society of Singapore, younger Chinese Singaporeans are mostly bilingual in Mandarin and English.
Chinese Malaysians speak a wide variety of dialects and Mandarin, their prevalence being concentrated around particular metropolitan centres: the Penang, Klang, Kelantan and Malacca groups are predominantly Hokkien-speaking (Penang has its own version of Hokkien, Kelantan has its own version of Hokkien too); the Kuala Lumpur, Seremban, Kuantan and Ipoh groups are predominantly Cantonese and Hakka-speaking; whereas in East Malaysia (Malaysian Borneo), Hakka and Mandarin are widely spoken, except in Sibu, where the Fuzhou dialect is predominant, and in Sandakan, where Cantonese is spoken. Regardless of location, however, younger generations tend to speak Mandarin, which is taught in schools. A significant number of Chinese are English-educated, who speak mainly English. Most Chinese Malaysians can speak Malay, the national language, and English, which is widely used in business.
Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia and Thailand had been subjected to official, and at times draconian, assimilation policies, and as a result many of them are no longer proficient in the Chinese language (particularly ethnic Chinese who lived in Java). Chinese who lived in Sumatra did not give up some of the dialects. Most of the ethnic Chinese in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, are still able to speak creole Hokkien within their community. This is due to the number of generations that have lived in Indonesia and their exposure to cultural assimilation. Most of the ethnic Chinese who live in Java have a long line (10 generations) of forefathers before them, where the ethnic Chinese who live in Sumatra have a relatively short generation of forefathers (4 or 5 generations). There is also a small population of Hakka Chinese in Indonesia, most notably in Bangka Belitung province,While in the areas from Pontianak to Kendawangan on the southern tip of West Kalimantan are populated by Teochew speakers much like Bangkok,Thailand.  Pontianak and Singkawang where they form a significant part of the local population. Chinese Indonesians identity are more Indonesians compared to Chinese.
Thailand is home to the largest and most integrated Overseas Chinese community. The present Thai monarch, Chakri Dynastry, is founded by King Rama I who himself is partly Chinese. His Predecessor, King Taksin of Thonburi dynastry, is the son of Chinese immigrant from Guangdong Province and is born with Chinese name. Majority of Prime Ministers in Thailand are of Chinese descent. Most ethnic Chinese in Thailand live in cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai and Nakhon Sawan. A large majority of them belong to the Teochew dialect group of Han Chinese. A small number of Chinese people, mainly belonging to the Yunnanese dialect group, also live in the northern part of Thailand which is in close proximity to their homeland in Yunnan province of China. Charoen Pokphand Group, founded by Thai-Chinese Chearavanont family, is currenly single largest foreign investors in China.
A large number of Chinese people live in Saigon city and most of them belong to the Cantonese dialect group of Han Chinese, tracing their ancestral homeland to the southern part of Guangdong province in China.
Chinese are a visible ethnic group of Cambodia and constitute around 7% of the population. Chinese ethnics can be seen in all towns and many towns are exclusive to ethnic Chinese. Most Chinese Cambodians belong to the Hokkien and Teochew dialect groups. Many Khmer people are taught Mandarin in school along side many Sino-Khmers and ethnic Vietnamese people.
A variety of Chinese dialects are spoken in Brunei. Mandarin and Hokkien are the most commonly spoken dialects in the country.
The most widely spoken dialects are Hokkien (there is a native form of Hokkien called Lan-nang-oe) and Cantonese. Mandarin is taught at all Chinese schools, and in most Chinese schools, the traditional Chinese script is usually taught.
Many overseas Chinese populations in North America speak some variety of Chinese. In the United States and Canada, Chinese is the third most spoken language. Cantonese has historically been the most prevalent variety due to immigrants being mostly from southern China from the 19th century up through the 1980s. However, Mandarin is becoming increasingly more prevalent due to the opening up of the PRC.
In New York City at least, although Mandarin is spoken as a native language among only ten percent of Chinese speakers, it is used as a secondary dialect among the greatest number of them and is on its way to replace Cantonese as their lingua franca. Although Min Chinese is spoken natively by a third of the Chinese population there, it is not used as a lingua franca because speakers of other dialect groups do not learn Min.
In Richmond (part of the Greater Vancouver metropolitan area in Canada), 44% of the population is Chinese. Chinese words can be seen everywhere from local banks to grocery stores. In the broader Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, 18% of the population is Chinese. Similarly in Toronto, which is the largest city in Canada, Chinese people make up 11.4% of the local population with the percentages higher in the suburbs of Markham, Mississauga and within the city in its east end of Scarborough. In these regions Chinese people make up between 20-50% of their total populations respectively. Cantonese and Mandarin are the most popular Chinese languages.
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 used to be eight seats allocated for overseas Chinese. These seats were apportioned to the political parties based on their vote totals on Taiwan, and then the parties assigned the seats to overseas Chinese party loyalists. Now, political parties in the ROC are still allowed to assign overseas Chinese into the Legislative Yuan, but they are not required to. Most of these members elected to the Legislative Yuan hold dual citizenship, but must renounce their foreign citizenship before being sworn in.
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.
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. On the other hand, overseas Chinese in their home nations were often persecuted for suspected or fabricated ties to "Communist China". This was used as a pretext for the massacres of ethnic Chinese in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries.
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. Many overseas Chinese are now investing in mainland China providing financial resources, social and cultural networks, contacts and opportunities. However, some distrust between Chinese and overseas Chinese still remains.
According to Article 5 of the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China: "Any person born abroad whose parents are both Chinese nationals or one of whose parents is a Chinese national shall have Chinese nationality. But a person whose parents are both Chinese nationals and have both settled abroad, or one of whose parents is a Chinese national and has settled abroad, and who has acquired foreign nationality at birth shall not have Chinese nationality". However the Nationality Law of the Republic of China, which permits dual citizenship, considers these persons to be citizens of the ROC.
There are over 40 million overseas Chinese, mostly living in Southeast Asia where they make up a majority of the population of Singapore and significant minority populations in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The overseas populations in those areas arrived between the 16th and 19th centuries mostly from the maritime provinces of Guangdong and Fujian, followed by Hainan. There were incidences of earlier emigration from the 15th centuries in particular to Malacca.
Urban areas with large Chinese populations include Bangkok with 2,900,000 (2009 census, registered resident only), Singapore with 2,800,000 (2010 census), Kuala Lumpur with 612,277 (2000 census, city only), Penang with 650,000 (2005), Jakarta with 528,300 (2010 census), New York City Metropolitan Area with 665,714 and the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland Combined Statistical Area with 562,355 (2009), as well as the Greater Toronto Area with 486,300 (2006 Census, metropolitan area).
Statistics compiled using local country statistics or best available estimates. Note that the percentages may not add up due to varying census and estimate dates.
Due to the growing economic strength and the influence on the world, many overseas Chinese have began to migrate back to China. The trend is expected to rise even more in the future.
- Anti-Chinese legislation in Indonesia
- Asian Latin American
- Chinese migration
- Chinatown, the article, and Category:Chinatowns the international category list
- Chinese Clan Association
- Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association
- Hong Kongers
- List of overseas Chinese
- Overseas Chinese banks
- Overseas Chinese Affairs Office
- Third culture kid
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