Overseas Chinese Deserve Love Too

My translation of the essay:-

“There was once a report about Fidel Castro posing a question to Deng Xiaoping when he was on a visit to Beijing. His question was: ‘Our two countries have similar systems and both our governments enjoy support from our own people. Why is it that once Cubans arrive in the United States they would immediately set out to oppose me, whereas when Chinese go to live in the States they would start to be patriotic?’ As could be expected, Castro naturally did not get a satisfactory answer. So, up to now the majority of Cubans who live in the States still consider overthrowing the Castro government as their responsibility, while overseas Chinese who scatter all over the world are one of the most passionate patriotic groups.

But the sad fact is, whether it was the period from the Qing dynasty to the Nationalist regime, or right up to the Cultural Revolution, overseas Chinese have scarcely received any care or attention from the Chinese government, not to mention the fact that they often have been adversely affected by certain of its actions: not only their mainland relatives get mistreated, they themselves are often targets of discrimination and oppression or are even victims of gang rape and massacre. Yet, despite all these unjust mishaps, overseas Chinese have stood out from amongst all immigrant groups in the world as one with the greatest love for their motherland. This is a commonly acknowledged fact.

It is exactly this patriotism that has brought misfortune or even catastrophe to overseas Chinese during different historical periods, especially in the era of the extreme left. During this latter époque, when we saw the world as our enemy, closing the door to inflict great sufferings on ourselves while vowing to liberate the world, overseas Chinese were deeply hurt. Let us not go into details about the painful experiences of Chinese immigrants in some South East Asian countries whose governments exercised suppressive tactics out of fear of a red China, but even in Western countries that believe in human rights and racial equality like the United States, it is not uncommon for them to use, either overtly or furtively, oppressive or discriminatory measures against Chinese immigrants due to ideological or security considerations.

After 30 years of reform and opening up to the world, China’s economy has experienced an unprecedented pace of growth and China is gradually rising in the World’s east. Who would be more proud and more enthused about this than overseas Chinese who are dispersed around the world? What has made them even more proud and vindicated is that the Olympics will be held in Bejing this year.

China does not recognize dual nationality. Legally speaking, overseas Chinese who have claimed foreign nationality will be denied Chinese nationality. One consequence of this is that when overseas Chinese are discriminated against or subjugated, the Chinese government is unable to do anything. Besides, China has always set great store by non-interference in other countries’ internal politics. History has born witness to this situation. Even when overseas Chinese were subjected to serious insults or rape, China’s response has still been the ‘non-interference in others’ internal politics’ rhetoric. (In recent years though there has been some improvement in this respect.)

However, we have to recognize a fact, and that is in the wake of the love overseas Chinese have for their motherland, their success or failure in different parts of the world has a direct relation to whether they can improve their service to mainland China. Based on this viewpoint, China treating overseas Chinese well is equal to China treating herself well.

Compared to the huge number of Chinese overseas students (it is estimated that since the opening up, a total of 1.3 million students have gone overseas, of whom about 200,000 have returned to China), the older generation of overseas Chinese immigrants have an even deeper love for China and they also know the better way of loving their homeland. Most of the students nowadays bring with them tens of thousands to a million yuans which their parents give them and they spend their money on goods or buying an education, and ultimately the majority of them will stay in the foreign land. Most of the Chinese immigrants in the past only had a backpack and a few dollars in their pocket when they arrived in a foreign country, and from there they struggled to earn their living with their own bare hands. Unlike the students who take money out from the mainland, the older immigrants often bring money back to their motherland to support various projects.

I’ve been contemplating several issues. Today let’s first reflect on the dual nationality issue. Presently the world’s stronger nations all recognize dual nationality. In 1949 when the current government was established, they did accept dual nationality. But since the ostracizing of Chinese immigrants in South East Asia, this policy was cancelled. Dual nationality, if permitted, can not only bring solidarity to all overseas Chinese, it can also eliminate their worries when they claim a foreign nationality, enabling them to quickly integrate into the social and work circles of their host country.

Of course there are other ways to show the Chinese government’s care for overseas Chinese. One would be, before dual nationality becomes reality, to make it easier for them to get entry visas.

I’ve just heard from a friend who acquired American citizenship that China has recently tightened visa controls because of the Olympics. It beats me as to why the authorities would choose to tighten controls just ahead of a joyful sports event.

The tightening appears to be on the time limit. It restricts multiple entries; tourists would need to show return air tickets, hotel reservation; visitors would need to have their mainland relatives’ sponsorship etc.; it seems all of a sudden things have returned to the way things used to work during the Cultural Revolution. These restrictions would probably not have a big impact on foreigners, as they are least likely to stay for long in China. It is the overseas Chinese with foreign nationality who would be inconvenienced.

It is not that overseas Chinese expect their motherland to care for them or love them. But you can’t at a critical moment put out measures to target your own offspring who roam the world. There are tens of millions of overseas Chinese. Of these, how many would actually be coming back to cause traffic chaos or overcrowding in hotels? Why is it necessary to restrict issuing visas to them? What statistical grounds are there for tightening visa control?

There are some even more serious problems and one of these is the over-involvement in overseas Chinese affairs by Chinese Embassies, using the mainland political mindset to exert control over local Chinese immigrants. It is all very ludicrous. If you think those countries have not noticed these things, you cannot be more wrong. All your actions are under close surveillance by their intelligence agencies. Such a way of bringing ‘Chinese characteristics’ into international relationship cannot be without a price. In the end, Chinese people will be the losers, especially overseas Chinese.”