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Hamish Coates, Lu Liu and Jinghuan Shi


In this article we introduce the five papers published in this issue of the International Journal of Chinese Education (IJCE). We begin by discussing complexities shaping the analysis of education, then turn to each paper’s nature and contributions. The article concludes by introducing revised IJCE editorial arrangements.

Edited by Hong Liu and Min Zhou

Who Speaks for China?

Translating Geopolitics through Language Institutes in Costa Rica

Monica DeHart


Drawing on ethnographic analysis of a Confucius Institute and two private schools, this article analyzes how diverse Chinese language institutes in Costa Rica have sought to capitalize on a growing local interest in learning Mandarin Chinese. It argues that a shifting global geopolitics has increased the perceived value of Chinese language acquisition and, thus, the stakes for language institutes seeking to assert their cultural authority as legitimate purveyors of Chinese and Chineseness. Through analysis of these schools’ projected identities and pedagogical styles, I show how they distinguish themselves from one another on the basis of public versus private ownership, choice-based versus authoritarian instructional style, and Taiwanese versus Mainland or diasporic roots. Building on the concept of the “Sinophone,” I highlight both the diversity of the forms and locations of Chineseness these initiatives represent and their implications for who can legitimately speak for China in Costa Rica.

Xiaomei Wang and Hans Van de Velde

This paper examines characteristics of the linguistic landscape (ll) in Chinatowns in Belgium and the Netherlands. Fieldwork was conducted in four cities in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, and Rotterdam) and two in Belgium (Brussels and Antwerp). All these cities are situated in the Dutch language area, but Brussels is officially bilingual French-Dutch. In the study, the traditional approach in linguistic landscape studies was combined with an ethnographic approach, in which shopkeepers were interviewed about language and script choice in their signs. The quantitative analysis shows that Chinese shows up in more than three quarters of all signs and that in almost 60 per cent of the signs Chinese is the dominant language. Dutch (the language of the region) and English (the international language) show up in almost half the signs. French shows up almost exclusively in Brussels, where Dutch is less used in signs. The analysis also shows interesting differences in script types between the cities. The presence of different types of Chinese character and pinyin systems indexes the Chineseness of the community, the origin of the local Chinese population, the position of the different establishments in the host countries, and the tendency of these Chinese immigrants to localize. We will show how these small overseas-Chinese communities construct and express their new identity by means of multilingualism and multiscriptualism.

Zheng Zhu


In this essay, I critically examined how the Chinese illegal immigrants were represented by the u.s. newspapers between the years 2000 and 2010. Four themes were unearthed. These four themes are 1) New Discourse of Racial Binary in Illegal Immigration, 2) Illegalizing “the Other”, 3) Victims of Chinese Culture, Politics and “Compatriots”, 4) Representation of Authentic Chinese Culture. The critical elaboration of these four themes demonstrated how the news discourse constructed Chinese illegal immigrants as the “outsiders within”. Ultimately, this project served two purposes. One was to “fill” the missing gap left unattended by the prior studies on Chinese immigrants. The other was to re-conceptualize the media representation of the “other” as a “contested and multilayered” process of excluding “the displaced outsiders”, who are struggling along the lines of social and national margins. It is through the critical exploration of the multiple theoretical perspectives and the ideological assumptions supported by the news texts that enables the disclosure of the dominant cultural discourse and politics of the host society.

Mark Finnane


The recent historiography of Chinese in Australia has emphasised their vigorous formation of a local identity and community even in the face of recurrent and expanding threats of exclusion from colonial life. In their ready embrace of legal remedies to redress what they saw as discrimination or other harms, the Chinese were exemplar colonial settlers who looked to the law to protect them. In colonial appeal courts, Chinese litigants challenged migration controls, contested convictions under opium restriction and gambling laws, sought equitable outcomes in property inheritance and challenged exclusionary regulation under the Factory Acts. In contrast to another kind of history of the Chinese in Australian law, as defendants in criminal prosecution, this article draws attention to the Chinese engagement in legal remedies as an assertion of their entitlement to recognition and fair play.

Yun-Tsui Yeh


This study looks at the process of change in social spaces in Chinese settlements in Singapore and seeks to understand the circumstances in which Singaporean national policies were carried out. The spatial construction of society is used as the basis for this research into the spatial politics of public housing in Singapore. The findings show that the government exercised the politics of spatial scale in resettlement schemes and housing programs to forge a new Singaporean community. The government saw a “mixed” social space of different social-economic groups and races as the local cradle of national consciousness. Unlike earlier research this study finds that the government intentionally broke up the enclaves as local units, along with the living mode of extended families and big families.

Eva Xiaoling Li and Peter S. Li


Much has been written about Chinatowns in North America as a self-sustained community with fairly complete social institutions. Chinatowns emerged under an era of racism and discrimination and offered some degrees of protection and opportunity to the Chinese. Historically, Vancouver’s Chinatown suffered from a public image of an unhygienic and immoral neighborhood where Chinese resided and where Chinese shops and businesses congregated. This image began to change in the 1930s as the Chinese reshaped Chinatown to suit the racial ideology of a culturally exotic neighborhood that offered Oriental cuisine and festivities to Canadians. As more Chinese immigrated to Canada after World War II, a new Chinese middle class began to emerge. Although Vancouver Chinatown continued to grow and to retain the image of a tourist attraction, it has ceased to be the choice residential and business location for the Chinese. In contrast, Richmond south of Vancouver has developed into a vibrant and affluent business and residential enclave for middle-class Chinese. This article argues that the emergence and decline of Vancouver’s Chinatown have been shaped by the nature of race formation in society as well as the internal composition and social organization of the Chinese community.

Jianli Huang


The movement of people leaving and returning to China from the second half of the19th century to the present is of such a phenomenal magnitude and complexity that Wang Gungwu has devoted a lifetime of his scholarship to tracking and explaining the various cycles of Chinese migration and settlement. Through this effort, he has not only contributed to China studies in general but has also pioneered and become the doyen of a new sub-field in the study of Chinese communities located outside of China and scattered all over the world. This has been a long and rewarding engagement for him, but not one without its moments of difficulties, especially at the conceptual level. Centering on Wang’s pool of scholarly writings and reminiscences, this article discusses his vigorous examination of the accuracy and appropriateness of various terms of analysis, such as “Nanyang Chinese,” “Overseas Chinese,” “Huaqiao,” “Greater China,” “Chinese Diaspora,” and “Chinese Overseas.” This discussion on terminology will also be used to reflect on Wang’s position on larger issues such as the danger of emotive responses to inappropriate labelling, the role of scholars in facilitating a better understanding of the contemporary world, as well as the relationship between scholarship and politics.

Mei-fen Kuo


This article is about a short moment in Chinese-Australian history at the turn of the 20th century when Chinese fruit and vegetable traders in Sydney were on the verge of major international success. The concerns of this new urban elite can be gleaned from their Chinese-language newspapers and civil societies which played an important role in the evolution of the diasporic identity of the Chinese in “White-Australia” — an experience involving more than merely a refinement of native kinship practices and inherited identities — in a process that invoked a distinctively modern sense of time, space, and the unfolding of history. This is an attempt to recount their experience chiefly by reference to the developments recorded in Chinese newspapers and the narratives related to the social institutions and networks associated with them in the Federation Era (1890s-1900s).