The Impact of the Anti-Chinese Páihuá Policy in Vietnam after Reunification: the Refugees’ Perspective

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Abstract

In 1978–1979 the news reporting on the Vietnamese boat people attracted attention from the whole world. Not only the media but also scientific researchers were interested in these mass refugees. However, this phenomenon has been detached from its context and perceived as a self-contained event on many occasions. Furthermore, most people were not aware of the fact that the main body of these refugees were ethnic Chinese, known as the Hoa. The study presented in this paper takes this as its starting point and focuses on the question of the motivations of the Hoa in leaving North Vietnam. It takes the historical, internal and foreign political context into consideration and identifies a political atmosphere extremely hostile to the ethnic Chinese.The páihuá policy drove them to leave behind what they had built up and led to the mass exodus of 1978–1979, but also gave the Hoa hope for a new and better life for themselves and especially for their future descendants outside of Vietnam.

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