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Day 2 13:30 Panel 14

China in Asia

Upper Hall

Ashton NG; Lo Yui-Chim; Wu Yunlong

Ashton NG,

University of Oxford, MSt in Traditional China


Ethnic Chinese have settled in Malaya (present-day Singapore and Malaysia) since antiquity, and have undergone two waves of de-Sinicisation and two waves of re-Sinicisation. Early Chinese immigrants intermarried with indigenous Malays, producing mixed descendants who adopted Chinese-Malay creoles and no longer identified with China (this was the “First Wave” of de-Sinicisation). Following Singapore’s founding as a British port, a sustained influx of immigrants from China kept Singapore intimately connected with developments in the late Qing dynasty and the Republic of China. Some de-Sinicised local-born Chinese developed nationalistic sentiments towards China and studied Mandarin to reaffirm their Chinese origins (this was the “First Wave” of re-Sinicisation). After China curtailed immigration to and from Singapore in the 1930s, Singapore-born Chinese rapidly outnumbered first-generation immigrants, and by the 1950s many ethnic Chinese in Singapore no longer identified with China. Chinese Singaporeans increasingly abandoned the Chinese language—which had little economic value—and opted for English-medium education. The collapse of Chinese-medium education in Singapore in 1978 accelerated the widespread adoption of English and the “Singlish” creole (this was the “Second Wave” of de-Sinicisation). Singapore’s 1979 Speak Mandarin Campaign marked the beginning of government-led efforts to re-Sinicise Chinese Singaporeans (the “Second Wave” of re-Sinicisation). These efforts, which included integrating new immigrants from China, were partially successful but bred resentment among some Chinese Singaporeans. Accompanying China’s rise in the twenty-first century is a dramatic revival of interest among Chinese Singaporeans towards Chinese culture, language, and identity. An ascendant China, with its stated ambitions of winning the loyalty of overseas Chinese, may have already initiated a “Third Wave” re-Sinicisation of Chinese Singaporeans. Singapore’s government faces the delicate balancing acts of (1) promoting English without creating a pseudo-Western society, while (2) promoting Chinese language and culture and yet forging a distinct Chinese Singaporean identity.

Lo Yui-Chim,

University of Oxford, Year 1 DPhil in History

Freedom, Development and Peace: Nationalist China's imaginations of post-World War II Asia

For all the continuities with the pre-war years, 1945 marked the beginning of a new era in Asia and the world. Yet, the immediate post-1945 Asia has been examined in terms of several separate conflicts such as the Chinese Civil War, Partition and independence wars in Southeast Asia. Little is known about the intention of emerging powers like China to shape the future of Asia. Shortly after 1945, the two superpowers, the US and the Soviet Union, were mostly riveted on Europe (the US on Japan, too). This was an opportunity for China to try to shape Asia’s future with less superpower interventions. To understand China’s ideas of post-war Asia, the notion of Asia’s cultural affinity and the perspective of geopolitics are inadequate; their ideas covered, among others, economic reconstruction and raising Asia’s status in international organisations. For example, China was a leading participant in the 1947 Asian Relations Conference, seen at the time as a promising move towards Asia’s independence and cooperation. In the conference, China supported developmental states, economic planning and state provision of welfare as the means to rebuild Asian societies after war, inspired by a global interest in state economic intervention. Arguably such ideas sowed the seeds of developmental states in East Asia and offered a template of development for developing economies in the Third World. China agreed to help newly independent Asian countries to enter international organisations like the United Nations in order to strengthen Asia’s voices. More importantly, in the conference a vision of post-war Asia, of which China was a proponent, emerged. This promoted among other things national independence, development and modernisation, social welfare, economic and technological cooperation, and a greater role of Asia in the world. These goals have been a major part of the foundations of post-1945 Asia.

Wu Yunlong,

Thammasat University, Lecturer

An Exploration on“Li Sanniang”: A God Worshipped in Bangkok Sam Nai Keng Shrine

The Sam Nai Keng Shrine in Bangkok is the only shrine for worshipping three female gods of Chen, Lin, Li in Bangkok and Thonburi in Thailand. At present, the Sam Nai Keng Shrine is under the supervision of the Hakka Association of Thailand. The Sam Nai Shrine is the witness to the development of the Hakka Chinese in Bangkok. It is also a significant fact of the investigation on the historical development and change of the Hakka culture. Through field investigation on the ritual of Li’s birth and the background of building Sam Nai Keng Shrine, it was found that “Li” was a representative of the adjustment to a belief in “Gu Po” and the practice of believing in “Moon salutation” originated from Hongmen, also known as Heaven and Earth society. It was therefore concluded that the origin of “Li” and “Li” worship among Hakka Chinese wax the result from historical and social development.

Keywords: Sam Nai Keng Shrine in Bangkok, Hakka, Belief in “Li”(Li SamNai),
Heaven and Earth Society (Hongmen)

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