Chinese Encounters in Southeast Asia

How People, Money, and Ideas from China Are Changing a Region

Edited by Pál Nyíri and Danielle Tan
Foreword by Wang Gungwu

  • Published: December 2016
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Asian Studies / Southeast Asia; Anthropology
  • Bibliographic information: 312 pp., 9 bandw illus., 4 maps, 3 tables, 6 x 9 in.
  • Contents

This is the first book to focus explicitly on how China's rise as a major economic and political actor has affected societies in Southeast Asia. It examines how Chinese investors, workers, tourists, bureaucrats, longtime residents, and adventurers interact throughout Southeast Asia. The contributors use case studies to show the scale of Chinese influence in the region and the ways in which various countries mitigate their unequal relationship with China by negotiating asymmetry, circumventing hegemony, and embracing, resisting, or manipulating the terms dictated by Chinese capital.
Pál Nyíri is professor of global history from an anthropological perspective at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. He is the author of Scenic Spots: Chinese Tourism, the State, and Cultural Authority; coauthor of Seeing Culture Everywhere: From Genocide to Consumer Habits; and coeditor of Chinese Encounters in Southeast Asia: How People, Money, and Ideas from China Are Changing a Region. Danielle Tan is research associate at the Institute of East Asian Studies (IAO-ENS Lyon), France, and at the Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia (IRASEC, Bangkok). The contributors are Aranya Siriphon, Caroline Grillot, Caroline S. Hau, Oliver Hensengerth, Johanes Herlijanto, Hew Wai Weng, Weiqiang Lin, Chris Lyttleton, Kevin Woods, Brenda S. A. Yeoh, and Juan Zhang.

"[These case studies] both demonstrate the scale of Chinese influence in the region as a whole and point out clearly that there is no such single thing as 'Chinese influence,' but rather disparate influences of different kinds of Chinese people and investors in a dynamic region."
-Stevan Harrell, series editor, Studies on Ethnic Groups in China

"This edition sheds new light on how specific vectors of change are linking millions of Chinese individuals with their neighbors in Southeast Asia, creating opportunities, frictions, and resistance, while concurrently reshaping the region. Through ethnographically rich case studies, we gain important insights into the everyday connections, complex social relationships, and composite livelihoods that intertwine China and its neighbors."
-Sarah Turner, coauthor of Frontier Livelihoods: Hmong in the Sino-Vietnamese Borderlands

"This important collection provides tantalizing accounts of how traders, entrepreneurs, workers, teachers, students, and tourists from the PRC are opening up borderlands and variously embedding themselves into nations to the south. The accelerating outflow of PRC people has made 'Chinese' identities-richly ambiguous and multivalent-a critical form of transnational social capital in the midst of local resistances, skepticism, and accommodation in Southeast Asia."
-Aihwa Ong, author of Fungible Life: Experiment in the Asian City of Life

Foreword / Wang Gungwu

List of Abbreviations
Introduction: China's "Rise" in Southeast Asia from a Bottom-Up Perspective / Pri and Danielle Tan

Part One Identities
1. Investors, Managers, Brokers, and Culture Workers: How Migrants from China Are Changing the Meaning of Ch-ineseness in Cambodia / Pri
2. Multiplying Diversities: How "New" Chinese Mobilities Are Changing Singapore / Brenda S. A. Yeoh and Weiqiang Lin
3. Translocal Pious Entrepreneurialism: Hui Business and Religious Activities in Malaysia and Indonesia / Hew Wai Weng

Part Two Livelihoods
4. Border Guanxi: Xinyimin and Transborder Trade in Northern Thailand / Aranya Siriphon
5. Ambivalent Encounters: Business and the Sex Markets at the China-Vietnam Borderland / Caroline Grillot and Juan

Part Three Norms
6. Entangling Alliances: Elite Cooperation and Competition in the Philippines and China / Caroline S. Hau
7. Chinese Enclaves in the Golden Triangle Borderlands: An Alternative Account of State-Formation in Laos / Danielle Tan
8. "China in Burma": A Multiscalar Political Economy Analysis / Kevin Woods
9. Water Governance in the Mekong Basin: Scalar Trade-offs, Transnational Norms, and Chinese Hydropower Investment / Oliver Hensengerth

Part Four Aspirations
10. "Search for Knowledge as Far as China!" Indonesian Responses to the Rise of China / Johanes Herlijanto
11. Stimulating Circuits: Chinese Desires and Transnational Affective Economies in Southeast Asia / Chris Lyttleton

Glossary of Chinese Characters




"An excellent work on the impacts of Chinese immigration and investment in Southeast Asia after the 1990s. . . . A highly recommended book that teaches readers about new waves of Chinese immigration, socio-economic development and borderland livelihoods in Southeast Asia, including those that entail political and environmental contestations. . . . This is a high-quality edited volume, containing diverse topics, researched geographies, and varied findings. Those who are interested in learning about Chinese influences in Southeast Asia from a bottom-up perspective will certainly appreciate the reading."
-Wen-Chin Chang, Journal of Burma Studies

"Addresses a gap in the literature and provides empirical proof of the fluidity of 'Chineseness.'"
-Chih-yu Shih, Pacific Affairs

"Southeast Asia offers diverse political and economic landscapes for mapping how and why Chinese migration and capital flows matter. . . . Each [essay] offers a compelling case study that highlights how everyday interactions and local relationships are rewriting the region at diverse scales, from the Greater Mekong Subregion to border towns. Scholars of China and Southeast Asia will welcome this diverse collection on how money and people from China are shaping the region. Recommended."