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New China and its Qiaowu: the political economy of overseas Chinese policy in the People’s Republic of China, 1949–1959

Lim, Jin Li (2016) New China and its Qiaowu: the political economy of overseas Chinese policy in the People’s Republic of China, 1949–1959. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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This thesis examines qiaowu [Overseas Chinese affairs] policies during the PRC’s first decade, and it argues that the CCP-controlled party-state’s approach to the governance of the huaqiao [Overseas Chinese] and their affairs was fundamentally a political economy. This was at base, a function of perceived huaqiao economic utility, especially for what their remittances offered to China’s foreign reserves, and hence the party-state’s qiaowu approach was a political practice to secure that economic utility. Through the early-to-mid-1950s, the perceived economic utility of the huaqiao and their remittancesled to policies that systematically privileged the huaqiao (especially in China) and their interests, all in the name of securing, incentivising and increasing remittances back to China. This was even done at the expense of other CCP ideological impetuses, especially in terms of socialist transformation, as the party-state permitted contradictions between these youdai [favourable treatment] policies for the huaqiao, and its own vision for socialist transformation. Yet, by 1959, and after a series of crises brought the contradictions between qiaowu and socialist transformation to the fore, the CCP’s radical shift to the left led by Mao Zedong forced qiaowu to now conform with Mao’s demand to place ‘politics in command’. Thus qiaowu abandoned its prioritisation of economic utility and its past policies, for alignment with Mao’s revolutionary ideals, and in service to the Great Leap Forward. This thesis represents an original contribution to historiography on the PRC, the huaqiao, and qiaowu, both in terms of the new evidence from a wide range of Chinese archives that it utilises, but also because it revises existing narratives—and especially the pro-CCP conventionalisms—that gloss over the huaqiao experience of New China. Furthermore, this thesis also addresses the lacunae in the historiography on the PRC in the 1950s, and its silence on where qiaowu fits into the story of China’s socialist transformation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Jin Li Lim
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Westad, Odd Arne

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