Chapter 3 No Complaints, No Escapes, No Shortfalls

In: The Price and Promise of Specialness
Author: Jin Li Lim

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This chapter (1953–1955) shows that while Overseas Chinese policy practitioners justified the positive discrimination ‘favourable treatment’ policies by a discourse of supposed Overseas Chinese ‘specialness’, there was a contradiction. For the party-state, the strategic imperative underpinning the ‘favourable treatment’ meant accepting its ideological aberrations. Yet, this did not always mean effective implementation at local levels, nor was such privileging always well-received within the Party. Earlier socialist transformation had negatively affected the Overseas Chinese in China; local Party cadres and officials had clearly failed to rectify ‘left deviationist’ excesses, or implement ‘favourable treatment’ provisions; and the CCP’s General Line (1952) for agrarian collectivisation, private industry and commerce, had only created new complications. Yet, Overseas Chinese policy practitioners—with the approval of the party-state leadership—responded by doubling down: on propaganda, on rectification, and above all, on the ‘favourable treatment’.

The Price and Promise of Specialness

The Political Economy of Overseas Chinese Policy in the People’s Republic of China, 1949–1959