Negotiating China’s Economic Presence in Brunei Darussalam: The Dynamics between New and Old Chinese Community
REGIONAL SOCIAL AND CULTURAL STUDIES PROGRAMME
About the Webinar
The impact of China’s momentous rise has had a tremendous influence on how Chineseness is strategically reconstructed in Southeast Asia. With an increasingly assertive China and the intensification of the influence of the Sinocentre, the ways in which Chinese overseas exercise their agentic power in utilizing their cultural capital of Chineseness is largely based on pragmatic economic calculation. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has provided a strategic opportunity for Beijing to build on the economic role played by diasporic Chinese entrepreneurs and for these entrepreneurs to turn their cultural capital into fiscal capital. In light of the increased global connectivity and new Chinese migration geographies led by the BRI, this article examines the case of the Chinese business community in Brunei Darussalam. The heterogeneous responses of the ethnic Chinese to China and the BRI attest to the multiplicity and contestations of Chineseness based on different migration histories and sentiments to their ancestral land. We focus on the dynamics between the old Chinese Bruneian business elites and the more recent Chinese business migrants from Malaysia and the People’s Republic of China. An investigation of the cultural and economic politics within the Chinese Bruneian business community will provide insights into the modality of Chineseness as an economic asset that can be tactically used by diasporic Chinese entrepreneurs to maintain their social position and to respond to China’s economic rise.
About the Speaker
Chang-Yau Hoon is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Asian Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, and an Adjunct Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia, where he received his PhD in Asian Studies. He chairs the Academic Board of the Brunei Research Institute at the College of ASEAN Studies, Guangxi University for Nationalities, China. He specializes in the Chinese diaspora, identity politics, multiculturalism, and religious and cultural diversity in contemporary Southeast Asia. His latest books are: Contesting Chineseness: Ethnicity, Identity, and Nation in China and Southeast Asia (with YK Chan, 2021, Springer); Christianity and the Chinese in Indonesia: Ethnicity, Education and Enterprise (2023, Liverpool University Press); Southeast Asia in China: Historical Entanglements and Contemporary Engagements (with YK Chan, 2023, Lexington Press); and Stability, Growth and Sustainability: Catalysts for Socio-economic Development in Brunei Darussalam (with A. Ananta and M. Hamdan, 2023, ISEAS Publishing).
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