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The world's successful "diasporas"A former king of Thailand once

famously referred to the overseas Chinese as the "Jews of Asia". But


the overseas Chinese have been far more successful in their
domination of many of Asia's economies than the Jews were in
Europe

 So perhaps the king had it wrong: he should have said that the Jews are the overseas
Chinese of Europe.Apart from Japan and Korea , business in Asia is ethnic Chinese
business. In south-east Asia , they dominate business despite forming on...ly a small
minority of the population. Approximately 6% of the combined population of the five
main south-east Asian economies ( Indonesia , Malaysia , the Philippines , Singapore and
Thailand ) is ethnically Chinese, but that 6% controlled around 60% of the region'sprivate
corporate wealth at least until Asia 's economic crisis of 1997-98. This tiny minority
accounts for almost all of south-east Asia 's known billionaires. I am surprised that the
level of Chinese in SE Asia is only 6%. I thought it is much higher than that.The
dominance is perhaps at its most extreme in Indonesia . Three quarters of the country's
top 300 big business groups are either wholly or partly owned by Indonesian Chinese
business people - not a bad result for an ethnic group that comprises just 3% of the
population. During the Soekarno and Suharto eras, the corrupt presidents did not trusts
Indonesians themselves. They felt more comfortable to trust the Chinese at least they will
not kill the goose that lay the golden eggs and politically they are not much of a
threat.About 35 million ethnic Chinese live in south-east Asia today. They are most
assimilated in Thailand , where, due to a high degree of intermarriage, the precise number
of Chinese is impossible to estimate, but elsewhere the degree of intermarriage has
occurred only at the edges. The majority of Asia's overseas Chinese emigrated from
China comparatively recently - mostly in the 19th century and early 20th century; often
their departure from China was as a result offamines or other upheavals. China has 29
provinces, but the vast majority of the overseas Chinese come from just three:
Guangdong and Fujian provinces on the South China Sea in the south-east corner of
China , and Hainan province, an island off the southern tip of Guangdong . China might
have over a billion people, but the overseas Chinese have cultural, family and language
ties with relatively few ofthem.The early migrants were usually dirt poor when they first
left the mother country, and over time the cumulative effects of high rates of mortality
and the self-selection that migration entails, whereby those most able to succeed are the
ones to leave, meant that south-east Asia soon played host to a hardened ethnic minority,
well equipped at survival and very successful in business - because the best way to
survive was to make money. This is what I meant that our forefathers were only driven to
make money quick and balek tongshan to become a landlord and exploit the rest of the
peasants. The communist takeover of China in 1949 spoilt that plan. No one wanted to
return with the new found wealth and go back to square one and become a peasant again.
Some of the rich migrated after the communist takeover as well.See More
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One of the key factors in the Chinese success was how they settled across Asia . They did
not pour into a particular location, but fanned out across the region, thus ensuring that
they had a ready-made network of international connections w...ithin which they could
trade and raise capital. This is not by choice, but determined by the "slave" traders who
were organising the cheap and required labor wherever they were demanded for eg the tin
fields in Malaysia or the goldfields in Australia . The legacy today is a web of personal
connections that allows commerce to proceed on the basis of trust - and if anyone betrays
the trust of another, that person is soon frozen out of trade and other business
opportunities. It is a powerful enforcer.Commerce like this does not need sound laws to
function. This is why the Chinese have been so astoundingly successful in south-east
Asia . For much of the last century, practically all the region was relatively lawless and
this has made the networks invaluable. The Singaporean who trades with a Bangkok
relative or other contact knows he will be paid. Pre-existing networks of trust mean
opportunities canbe exploited quickly while their Western competitors must arrange
buyers and letters of credit, losing time and opportunities. The ability to do business in
those business environments that are so rough that they are no-go areas for anyone else
means that the Chinese get in on the ground floor when an economy is about to take off.
It is the early bird that catches the highest margin. The overseas Chinese have been
instrumental in building up the economies of Cambodia , Burma , Vietnam and even Laos
. They were the first investors to go back into China , using their family and ancestral
links to scout out opportunities, while multinationals were still trying to findconsultants
who could do the same. Chinese in those days were very cliquey (for survival).
Benevolent Societies; Clan Associations were set up to look after the interests of their
members.Dialect is important to understanding the Chinese outside China because it is a
key signifier for different cultural groups under the broader umbrella of Chineseness.
Mandarin is the language of northern China and is the native tongue of almost three-
quarters of all Chinese who live in China, but it is the ancestral tongue of only a tiny
proportion of the Chinese who live in south-east Asia - perhaps less than 5%. Because
most overseas Chinese have their origins in China 's south-east, their languages are the
various dialects of that part of China . However, the written form of the language is the
same. In the absence of a common third language or an interpreter, someone who speaks
Cantonese will be able to communicate with a Mandarin speaker by exchanging written
notes.- Hokkien is the dialect for those with origins in southern Fujian province Most
Hokkien (Fujianese) in SE Asia are from the Amoy area around Xiamen and speak
Ningnan Hua.- Fuzhou is spoken by those from around Fuzhou city in the north-east of
Fujian , Hokchiu is the closely related dialect of those from the area around nearby
Fuqing and Henghua is the dialect of those from the Putian area, south of Fuzhou-
Hainanese (or Qiongwen) is the language of those from Hainan province- Cantonese is
the ancestral dialect of those with origins in much of Guangdong and Hong Kong There
are numerous Cantonese dialects. The commonly spoken in Canton and Hong Kong is
called Baihua or Bak Wah.- Teochiu (or Chiu Chow, as it is spelt in Hong Kong) is
spoken by those from the Shantou area of eastern Guangdong Swatau or Shantou is the
northern part of Guandong Province at the border with Fujian .- Hakka (or Keh) is the
language of a group of Chinese sprinkled throughout northern Guangdong , southern
Fujian and further inland The Hakkas are the loyalists of the Tang Dynasty who moved to
Southern China at the collapse of the last Tang Emperor. They are the "Guests" (just like
what UMNO are labelling the Malaysian Chinese.). They still maintain their identity even
though they were being assimilated locally. Today, you still see round houses in Southern
Fujian that were built as forts with more than 100 families living in them. There are many
in Malaysia who band together and call themselves as Fujian Hakkas. A famous hakka is
Sun Yat Sun but he was born in Hiangshan, outside Zhaoging (Ciu Heng) that is under
the Zhongshan (Chong San) prefecture. That's why Sun Yat Sun is also known as Sun
Chong San.See More
Particular dialect groups tend to occupy certain business sectors: the Hokchia-speaking
people, for example, were rickshaw drivers and this explains why the largest
manufacturer of tyres in Indonesia today is the Gajah Tunggal Group, owned ...by the
Hokchia Chinese Nursalim family - they started by supplying and repairing rubber tyres
for rickshaws. Similarly, the medicated ointment Tiger Balm was first manufactured in
the 1920s by the Hakka Chinese Aw family, who lived in Burma at the time. Historically,
Hakka families ran Chinese herbalist and pharmaceutical shops. Ban Choon Tong -
started by Philip's great grand father!In alertness to information such as this can help
outside investors to truly understand business in south-east Asia today and how it came to
be the way that it is.OVERSEAS CHINESE Dialect From where Settled Business names
group in China Hokkien FujianMalaysia, Kwek family (Hong Leong)Philippines, - Lucio
TanSingapore, Myanmar ( Philippines Airlines, Fortune Tobacco)Fuzhou Fuzhou -
Indonesia , Malaysia , Lim Sioe Liong (Salim district (especially Sarawak ) Group);
Robert Kuok (Kuok of Fujian Singapore Group He is Teochew!)Henghua Putian area
Indonesia, SingaporeRiady family (Lippoof Fujian Group)Hainanese Hainan Malaysia ,
Indonesia ,Lamsam (Thai Farmers island/ Singapore, Thailand Bank)Cantonese
GuangdongMalaysia (especially Gordon Wu (Hopewell Kuala Lumpur),
Holdings)VietnamTeochiuNorthern Thailand, Singapore , Chearavanont family (CP
Guangdong, Malaysia , Laos, Group); Li Ka Shing Cambodia (Hutchison Group)Hakka
Guangdong Malaysia , Indonesia , EkaTjandranegara (Mulia and Fujian Myanmar,
Singapore Group)__.

The success of the overseas Chinese is mainly due to their great need to survive. Our
ancestors (most of them at least) had to succeed or face starvation. Those who did not
leave China were facing starvation due to corrupt govts, warlords, ...landlords and series
of wars and civil unrest and famines. Many who left China had to succeed not only for
themselves but the families they left behind were dependent on them as well. It was really
a human laboratory to endorse Darwin 's theory of "Survival of the Fittest". This
experiment is still be in progress in HK, Taiwan and Spore. These island states have to
work harder to survive and they are doing a great job.But the decedents of our forefathers
(except those in the island states) are getting soft. Spoilt by affluence (much inherited) or
assimilated with the local population in countries like Thailand , Indochina , Indonesia ,
Myanmar . In Malaysia , the situation is probably in between. The Malaysian Chinese are
handicapped due to political and economic dominance by the Malay elites. It does some
good as it makes the Chinese more competitive esp. in schools but it is unfair and
unwarranted. I am referring to the average Chinese and not so well off Chinese families.
The upper crust always live in a different world, anyhow.Chinese, elsewhere like
Thailand or Indochina or Indonesia or Myanmar are also downtrodden. But is not that
obvious because of their small numbers or already have been assimilated. In Thailand and
Cambodia , Chinese are not accepted into military schools to be groomed as future elites.
In Vietnam , it is strange even though the cities are dominated by Chinese and Vietnam
was under Chinese rule for +1,000 years, the Chinese there are ashamed to be referred to
be called Chinese. I could never get a satisfactory answer from my Vietnamese Chinese
friends there. But not so for those Vietnamese Chinese who has migrated here in OZ or
N. America , they want to forget their Vietnamese heritage. They explained to me that is
due to Chinese in Vietnam are 2nd class citizen and got a raw deal since the Americans
were kicked out of Vietnam . Some told me that is also due to the fallout between
Vietnam and China when both were trying to get dominance in Cambodia and Laos (with
the Russian taking the Vietnamese side) after the Vietnam War with the American. China
became an enemy only until recently cordial relation is officially acknowledged.It is
always a Chinese problem in shying away from politics and only concentrating in
commerce. This is the sad situation in Malaysia now. Chinese pay 85% of the income tax
with 22% of the population. Another sin the Chinese have committed, is that they are the
culprits in spreading and nurturing corruption. My favorite saying is "We Chinese
invented corruption thousands of years ago and still practice it". Chinese are too quick to
offer a bribe in exchange of expediency or favors or just to protect self interests. If the
Chinese never paid under the table, there would never be corruption. In Malaysia, the
process of corruption was accelerate as Govt officials, the biggest crooks are Dr. M. and
gang as they were also raiding the cookie jar, encouraged by the Chinese and fewer
Indians from MIC lapping up the crumbs.I apologise for sounding like a cracked record
in harping that all Malaysia 's ills are caused by corruption. For those, who have nothing
better to do, pls read on my comments in red above