“Where there is sea water, there are Chinese”—Overseas Chinese are the largest immigrant group in the world and have made great contributions to the world for the past one hundred years.
Before the nineteenth century, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand were the countries with the largest population of Chinese immigrants. Following the Opium War, China was forced to open its doors and become a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society. The period between 1850 and the early twentieth century saw a boom in Chinese emigration—there were approximately seven million laborers living in coastal cities in Southeast Asia, the Americas, and Oceania where large Chinese societies had formed.
When the constitution for the Republic of China was drawn up, it clearly stated that the citizens of the Republic of China should enjoy the public and private rights of the Constitution, and that the overseas Chinese will equally enjoy the same rights[CR1] . The population of overseas Chinese communities surged because many emigrants after having achieved some success would return to their home villages and urge their friends and relatives to emigrate also. In modern times, renowned overseas Chinese include:
- Zhang Zhenxu (a.k.a. Zhang Bishi, Cheong Fatt Tze, or Tjong Tjen Hsoen, 1841–1916) famous for his wealth;
- Liu Hengpo (a.k.a. Jose Ignacio Paua 1872–1926), a general in the Philippine Revolution;
- Wu Liande (a.k.a. Wu Lien-the, Goh, Lean tuck, or Ng Leen Tuck, 1879–1960), a public health and pioneering pandemic specialist;
- Huang Xing (a.k.a. Huang Hsing, 1874–1916), a revolutionary leader and a founder of the Republic of China;
- the Liao and Song clans;
- Chen Jiageng (a.k.a. Tan Kah Kee, 1874–1961), a businessman and community leader;
- Hu Wenhu (commonly known as Aw Boon-Haw, 1882–1954), a pharmaceutical entrepreneur.
The world situation changed drastically after 1955 and the idea, that many Chinese emigrants had, of earning a living in another land but returning to one’s native country for retirement changed. At this time, emigrants began seeking citizenship in the country where they lived, and gradually integrated into mainstream society. After reform and the Open-Door Policy, the Chinese government began new modes of communication with overseas Chinese communities. At that time, a galaxy of outstanding Chinese emerged:
- Shu Xingbei (a.k.a. Hsin Pei Soh, or Hsin P. Soh, 1907–1983), the “Einstein of China”;
- Chen Xingshen (a.k.a. Shiing-Shen Chern, 1911–2004), the “father of modern differential geometry”;
- Yuan Jialiu (a.k.a. Luke Chia-Liu Yuan, 1912–2003), physicist;
- Huang Yi (1882–1964) who rose from beggar to become prime minister of Cambodia;
- Lee Kuan Yew (1923–2015), founding father of Singapore;
- Lin Shaoliang (a.k.a. Lien Swie Liong, Leim Sioe Liong, or Sudono Salim, 1916–2012), the richest man in Indonesia;
- Kuo Henian (Robert Kuok, 1923-), hotel magnate;
- Zhang Xiaoqing (Tiong Hiew King, b. 1935), media tycoon;
- Li Xiaolong (Lee Jun-fan, commonly known as Bruce Lee, 1940–1973), kung-fu artist and actor;
- He Dayi (David Da-I Ho, b. 1952), AIDS expert;
- Yang Zhiyuan (Jerry Chih-Yuan Yang, b. 1968), co-founder of Yahoo;
- Luo Jiahui (Gary Faye Locke, b. 1950), first US Ambassador to China of Chinese descent
In addition, more and more female Chinese are stepping onto the stage of history, and these “sonorous roses” must be regarded in a new light:
- He Xiangning (1878–1972), revolutionary, politician, painter, and poet;
- Qian Xiuling (Siou-Ling Tsien de Perlinghi, 1912–2008), scientist;
- Wu Jianxiong (Chien-Shiung Wu, 1912–1977), experimental physicist;
- He Zehui (Ho Zah-wei, 1914–2011), nuclear physicist;
- Han Suyin (born Roslie Matilda Kuanghu Chou), physician and writer;
- Chen Xiangmei (Anna Chan Chennault, Anna Chen Chennault, b. 1925), journalist and politician;
- Wu Bingzhi (Adrienne Louise Clarkson, 199-2005), journalist and stateswoman (served as Governor-General of Canada);
- Zhao Xiaolan (Elaine Lan Chao, 1953-), 24th United States Secretary of Labor and 18th United States Secretary of Transportation;
- Lang Ping (1960-), Women’s World Championship volleyball coach;
- Liu Qing (Jean Liu, 1978-), business woman
Overseas Chinese have always attached great importance to education. When the Xinhai Revolution (a.k.a. Revolution of 1911) broke out, there were more than one hundred Chinese schools overseas. After the Revolution, overseas Chinese’s devotion to establishing new schools was unflagging. The Chinese High School (renamed Hwa Chong Institution in 2005), a renowned new-style school, was established in Singapore in 1919. Since the founding of the New China, overseas Chinese have supported and helped the sustainable development of education in various ways and through numerous channels.
Today, new overseas Chinese are generally well educated, and have considerable experience with advanced technology and management. They are familiar with the history, customs, language, culture, society, and laws of the countries in which they reside; thus, it is easier for them to integrate into Western mainstream society. Their international vision and networks offer unique advantages for success through their assimilation both at home in China and in foreign countries. China, in her development plans should recruit the talented, attract intellectuals, keep pace with global trends, and put into place striding development models.
I removed the quotation marks as I cannot easily find an English translation of the constitution.
This person is problematic. I have found references to him being the prime minister of Cambodia, but only in a few Chinese sources all of which seem to refer back to one initial source. In English and French, there are no Cambodian ministers with this name or birth date. One Chines article included a picture of him with a caption in Khmer. I asked a friend who works for the UN Cambodia Mission to help, unfortunately part of the caption was too blurry to be read. Furthermore, the dates given in the Chinese articles say that he became prime minister on August 14th, 1945 which is the same day Son Ngoc Thanh became prime minister; however, his life dates are 1908-1977. He was born in Vietname; however, his mother was Sino-Vietnamese.