THE INVISIBLE CHINA: The Overseas Chinese and the Politics of Southeast Asia by Garth Alexander

THE INVISIBLE CHINA: The Overseas Chinese and the Politics of Southeast Asia

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the last century ten million Chinese have settled outside of China, 96 percent of them in Southeast Asia. They now control most of the trade in that area, and they pay most of the taxes. Yet they are the victims of second class citizenship (legally explicit in Indonesia and the Philippines), witch hunts, and pogroms; they have become the Jews of the East, persecuted by all localities, sustained by their own commercial power and ethnic ties. Alexander suggests that ""antiSinicism"" has played a much more active role than has been generally recognized in the turbulent events of the area. indeed, he argues that the three major upheavals in the recent past -- the Vietnam war, the indonesian ""confrontation,"" and the federalization of Malaysia -- can be understood only as a manifestation of a pernicious fear of the ""yellow peril,"" often disguised as the ideological ""red peril."" A number of factors have precipitated such racism: the general anxiety about ""an unreasoning and irresistible force""; a hypersensitivity to Chinese saber rattling; an ambivalence toward cultural assimilation of the Chinese; the consequent reassertion of ethnicity by the Chinese in more saber rattling and in reviving their ""secret societies""; and skillful politics by Taiwan in marshalling world fears of the Red Chinese -- in effect, the internationalization of the Chinese civil war. Alexander cites the long-accepted Domino Theory as an indication that Americans are susceptible to ""Chinaphobia"": unless we make a stand, they will conquer us all, domino by domino. He is a meticulous, analytical journalist, who has spent four years researching his book; his effort is well justified.

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1974
Publisher: Macmillan