Far-flung 'sons and daughters of the Chinese nation'


CLAIMING CREDIT: Ethnic Chinese, born and bred overseas, are successful due to Beijing's influence, says a newspaper

Frank ChingCHINA is laying a claim to human resources around the world that no other country can match: 50 million ethnic Chinese, mostly citizens of other countries whom Beijing sees as "sons and daughters of the Chinese nation".

The official Chinese newspaper, the People's Daily, on Saturday published an article on what it called the participation of "overseas Chinese" in politics.

It cited United States Congresswoman Judy Chu of California, the only Asian among 35 national campaign co-chairpersons for Barack Obama's campaign committee.

Oddly, however, even though the article appeared in English in the paper's online edition, it did not refer to her as "Judy Chu" but as Zhao Meixin, using her Chinese name.

It called her an example of a successful overseas Chinese "participating in politics in foreign countries", even though Congresswoman Chu, of course, was born in the US, the granddaughter of an immigrant. To her, the US is not a foreign country.

And the article referred to the congresswoman and others as "ethnic foreigners", as though she will be forever a foreigner in the land of her birth and will always be Chinese.

In fact, China is claiming credit for the achievements of people such as Judy Chu.

The People's Daily said: "As China's national strength is constantly enhancing, the status of overseas Chinese is also upgraded in the countries they live in."

It said that participation in politics had become an "irresistible trend" for overseas Chinese.

The reason for China's interest is not difficult to discern.

"In order to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with China, more and more overseas Chinese are needed to participate in the local political life," the paper said.

That is to say, from China's viewpoint, these ethnic Chinese politicians serve China's national purpose, even though they are elected officials of other countries.

This is quite different from the attitude of other countries, such as Britain. The United Kingdom, to whom many Americans trace their ancestry, doesn't claim former President George W. Bush and his family as "overseas British". They are simply recognised as American.

But China, it seems, would not recognise someone with Chinese blood as American, but as a Chinese with foreign citizenship.

China isn't shy about demonstrating how ethnic Chinese communities are currently serving its political purposes.

For example, in Beijing's dispute with Japan over the Diaoyu islands -- known to Japan as the Senkakus -- state news agency Xinhua reported that overseas Chinese around the world are supporting China's position.

"Overseas Chinese in various countries ranging from Italy, Switzerland, Australia, to Indonesia, Malaysia, Zambia, Tanzania and Colombia", Xinhua said, had staged protests against the Japanese government's decision to purchase three of the islands from their private owner.

In the US, Xinhua reported that Chinese in Los Angeles held a forum at which Dr Song Guo Zheng, a naturalised American citizen from Anhui province, who is now at the University of Southern California, said that Chinese Americans could play a role in backing the Chinese government in its dispute with Japan.

The agency reported that Chinese in Houston had sent a letter to the Japanese consulate there protesting against "provocations by Japanese right-wing politicians".

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