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Overseas Chinese

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Overseas Chinese (華僑 in pinyin: hua2 qiao2, or 華胞 hua2 bao1, or 僑胞 qiao2 bao1) are ethnic Chinese who live outside of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan. There are approximately 60 million overseas Chinese mostly living in southeast Asia where they make up a majority of the population of Singapore and significant minority populations in Indonesia, the Phillipines, Thailand and Malaysia. The overseas populations in those areas arrived between the 16th and the 19th centuries. More recent emigration has been directed primarily to North America with the United States and Canada being destinations. (see entries on Malaysian Chinese, Indonesian Chinese, Chinese Canadian, Chinese Puerto Rican and Chinese American).

Overseas Chinese vary widely as to their degree of assimilation, their interactions with the surrounding communities (see Chinatown), and their relationship with China. Many people who are considered overseas Chinese do not welcome the label.

The Chinese in Southern Asian countries often have established themselves in commerce and finances.

Both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China maintain highly complex relationships with overseas Chinese populations. 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. 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. The R.O.C. continues to allow legislative representation to overseas Chinese, a seat which has remained controversial as many of the voting members of the American overseas Chinese communities were supporting the KMT military dictatorship while enjoying the freedoms of America.

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 emmigrated Chinese, who consist largely of Chinese seeking graduate education in the West.

See also: Chinatown

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