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Overseas Chinese

October 22, 1958

Report Outline
Contest for Support of Overseas Chiness
Overseas Chinese and Changes in China
Treatment of Chinese in Southeast Asia
Special Focus

Contest for Support of Overseas Chiness

Emergence of Red China as an aggressive Far Eastern power has raised problems not only for the United States but also for the countries of Southeast Asia where 11 million Chinese reside. The overseas Chinese communities, ranging in size from a mere 30,000 in Laos to around three million in Thailand, constitute distinct social and cultural units within the respective countries. Activities of the Chinese as retailers and middlemen make them the backbone of the economic life of the relatively undeveloped nations in which they live. However, their affinity for the homeland, and the spreading influence of Communist China among them, pose a long-term threat to the integrity of almost every country which they inhabit.

American policy makers are well aware of the threat which the Chinese minorities present. One of the reasons advanced for non-recognition of Red China is that recognition would virtually force the overseas Chinese to support Peiping. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles pointed out on Sept. 25 that general acceptance of the Communist regime would “mean that the influential Chinese communities would increasingly take political guidance from the Communist authorities and become a tool for the overthrowing of now friendly governments.” Sen. Paul H. Douglas (D-I11.) recently emphasized the same danger:

If we recognize Peking, we will have helped to solidify one of the most potent fifth columns in history- The 12 million overseas Chinese living in Southeast Asia will have little choice but to give their allegiance to Red China, and to try to deliver into its control the countries where they have great power: the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaya, Thailand, and Burma. And our own citizens of Chinese descent will be subjected to blackmail and coercion, through their relatives in China, by the diplomatic representatives of the Peking regime.

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