Chien-Wen Kung

Mar 3, 2023

Diasporic Cold Warriors

Nationalist China, Anticommunism, and the Philippine Chinese, 1930s-1970s

Cornell University Press 2022

From the 1950s to the 1970s, Philippine Chinese were Southeast Asia's most exemplary Cold Warriors among overseas Chinese. During these decades, no Chinese community in the region was more vigilant in identifying and rooting out suspected communists from within its midst; none was as committed to mobilizing against the People's Republic of China as the one in the former US colony. Ironically, for all the fears of overseas Chinese communities' ties to the PRC at the time, the example of the Philippines shows that the "China" that intervened the most extensively in any Southeast Asian Chinese society during the Cold War was the Republic of China on Taiwan. 

Kung Chien Wen’s Diasporic Cold Warriors: Nationalist China, Anticommunism, and the Philippine Chinese, 1930s-1970s (Cornell UP, 2022) tells the story of the Philippine Chinese as pro-Taiwan, anticommunist partisans, tracing their evolving relationship with the KMT and successive Philippine governments over the mid-twentieth century. Throughout, he argues for a networked and transnational understanding of the ROC-KMT party-state and demonstrates that Taipei exercised a form of nonterritorial sovereignty over the Philippine Chinese with Manila's participation and consent. Challenging depoliticized narratives of cultural integration, he also contends that, because of the KMT, Chinese identity formation and practices of belonging in the Philippines were deeply infused with Cold War ideology. Drawing on archival research and fieldwork in Taiwan, the Philippines, the United States, and China, Diasporic Cold Warriors reimagines the histories of the ROC, the KMT, and the Philippine Chinese, connecting them to the broader canvas of the Cold War and postcolonial nation-building in East and Southeast Asia.

Kung Chien Wen is an Assistant Professor in History at the National University of Singapore. His research straddles the fields of Chinese migration and diaspora, the Cold War and decolonisation in Southeast Asia, and modern China and Taiwan in the world.

Benjamin Goh is a MPhil in World History Candidate at the University of Cambridge. He focuses on global youth and education histories in Southeast Asia and is presently working on his dissertation that explores world history-making at the University of Malaya in the 1950s and 1960s. He tweets at @BenGohsToSchool.

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Benjamin Goh

Benjamin Goh is a MPhil in World History Candidate at the University of Cambridge. He focuses on youth and education histories in Southeast Asia and is presently working on his dissertation that explores history-making at the University of Malaya in the 1950s and 1960s. He tweets at @BenGohsToSchool.

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