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Chinese Migration Business and Global Conquest

Chinese Migration, Business, and Global Conquest“Chinatown is not a place where the Chinese run to to take shelter from the locals; it is a place that they build up to keep the locals from getting to them. . . and I can say that it is very racist; they don’t like to inter-mix.”-From an interview [...]

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Chinese Migration, Business, and Global Conquest

“Chinatown is not a place where the Chinese run to to take shelter from the locals; it is a place that they build up to keep the locals from getting to them. . . and I can say that it is very racist; they don’t like to inter-mix.”
-From an interview that I did with Toney Leong, an overseas Chinese in India, on November 16, 2006.

Overseas Chinese in India

At the Four Tigers market in Budapest, my imagination was stricken by the stories of these Chinese immigrants whom, at least from those that I had spoken with, were right off the boat from their native land. They came to Hungary as a part of the mission that the Chinese have been practicing for hundreds of years: to be covertly at the forefront of every economic surge on the planet. A clever investor only has to look at the number of Chinese immigrants in a given city to know of its potential for economic success.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Budapest, Hungary- July 29, 2008
Travelogue Travel Photos

The foreign Chinese tend to not live in dead cities, and they jump upon the boom towns like ants on a befallen scoop of sidewalk ice cream. I would bet anything that a timeline of global capital and investment patterns would be nearly identical with that of Chinese migration.

I do not know how they do it, but if you look at early incidences of mass economic expansion – from the west coast of the USA, to the east of India, to southeast Asia, to Latin America, to the Silk Road, to the recent economic explosion that is taken place in their own country – Chinese traders and laborers have been present at nearly every modern investment boom.

Follow the Chinese and you will be OK.

But this new wave of Chinese immigration seems different than the ones that proceeded it. The Chinese who are now emigrating seem, at least from my conversations with the Chinese in Budapest, to be coming from the north of China. This is in stark contrast to the historic pattern in which Chinese immigrants came southeastern provinces. Perhaps this is because China has opened up, making it much easier for these groups to set up businesses in other countries? Maybe this is because many of the social factors that pushed the Hakka and Cantonese to travel are not as present in contemporary times? Or maybe it is because there is a huge pot of plastic and tupperware gold in China that can easily be sold all over the planet?

At first appearance, it seems as if the Chinese emigrated because China was a poor, feudal country that did not have the necessary resources to fend for its population. But on further insight, it seems to me that the Chinese have always been very opportunistic travelers. In an interview that I did in 2006 with overseas Chinese in India, I was told that ” . . . the Chinese first began coming to India to fill the British military needs for high quality leather products. As most native Indian communities have a strong taboo against producing and using leather goods there was a vacant niche that the Chinese willingly filled.” It seems as if Chinese migrants are still filling vacant niches all over the world, and are setting up shop in other countries because China is wealthy and is now replete with resources that can be shipped across the globe. These are resources that – in many cases – can be better tapped from abroad. In point, it seems as if the Chinese are emigrating not because they have to, but because they know that they can make more money abroad by continuously bringing the contemporary resources of China to new parts of the world. The Chinese have become masters at import/ export trade and have taken their grassroots small business network global.

It seems to me mildly ironic, but China is becoming monstrously wealthy off of simple, petty, insignificant, and cheap business in foreign lands. The goods are made in China, purchased from China, shipped through Chinese means, distributed by Chinese warehouses in foreign countries, and then sold in Chinese owned shops. All the while money is ever being filtered back to China.

Chinese goods are cheap, and people the world over like cheap. China is also a culture that works on the premises of Guanxi – connections – and, therefore, the flow of these goods are often kept within the bounds of Chinese communities. From Wikipedia: “Guānxi describes the basic dynamic in personalized networks of influence, and is a central concept in Chinese society.” –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanxi

In point, China is now an economic beast with more than 40 million arms in over a hundred countries. The Chinatowns of old are now rekindling communication with the motherland, and are becoming exceedingly wealthy for the effort. China, in turn, now has sizeable social and economic settlements in nearly every city on planet earth.

“Name one city on earth that you have been to that did not have Chinese people?” a university professor once asked me in Costa Rica. I could not answer in the affirmative. In nine years of travel, I have seen the bobbing black heads of the Chinese everywhere.

In part, China’s former desolation and emigration pressures has now amounted to a culture that has the potential to be the most powerful, influential, and widely dispersed that the world has ever known. Kurt Vonnegut once wrote a fictional story in which the Chinese took over the world by making themselves shrink to the size of microbes. When they first began the shrinking process, nobody really took much notice as they were small and mostly kept to themselves. But they then slowly infiltrated and took control of every political and economic sector on the planet. I am laughing at the sci-fi overtones of these words, but, in many parts of the world, the Chinese have spread their cheap junk like a microbic cloud.

The Chinese invade with population. It is my impression that Tibet cannot now be liberated, because the majority of its population is Han Chinese. “We are a minority in our own country,” a Tibetan refugee once spoke to me through tears (Seekers of Refuge in a Land of No Return). Yes, bring democracy and self rule to Tibet, and you will just confirm and vindicate the rule of the Chinese. Tibet is now Chinese: to liberate it would necessitate action on par with ethnic cleansing. Xingjiang, Guangxi, and Yunnan do not seem to be that much different. I was told by a Chinese professor that every school child is still taught the old Maoist songs of how China aspires to take over the world. The lyrics to the song starts out with China claiming Tibet and Taiwan, and then moving across the world taking over each land sequentially until they finally claim the United States of America.

Once the USA is conquered the song ends with the Chinese being the victorious captors of planed earth.

I hesitate to say this, but I think that there is a certain amount of truth to this little song. I can remember many conversations that I have had with people in China in which they seemed to take if for granted that China and the USA will come to blows, and China will reign victorious. The matter of fact way that these conversations are spoken initially left me aghast. From my experiences, the notion of global warfare seems to be burnt into the cultural consciousness of the Chinese much like how people in the West take it for granted that a human induced apocalypse is inevitable.

China still believes in manifest destiny.

They are a proud culture.

By the mandate of heaven.

But if there is one population on the planet that I would approve of furthering its influence, it is the Chinese. The people learned how to work; they learned how to eat bitter; they know how to fend and provide for themselves and their communities; they know the value of retaining a strong cultural identity. Now, after a few twists and turns of history, the Chinese are collectively becoming the richest and most powerful people on planet earth.

A billion pennies adds up to ten million dollars.

Further reading:
Overseas Chinese in India
Chinese in India

Links to previous travelogue entries:
Travel Guitar
Hostel Life in Budapest
Bomb in Budapest

Chinese Migration, Business, and Global Conquest
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Filed under: China, Europe

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3691 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: Trenton, Maine

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