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China draws ethnic Chinese students from across Asia

[ 2013-05-02 13:52] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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Ang Yi Lin, an international student from Singapore, stands in front of the library at Peking University. (Photo: Yuri Imamura)



After a hard day studying international politics at Peking University, Valerie Ang Yi Lin kicks back in a cafe.

Ang Yi Lin, 23, a Singaporean of Chinese descent, attended a school for Singaporean Chinese from an early age, which explains her fluent Mandarin. Despite this, she admits hardly knowing anything about China before coming to Peking University. But as China’s economy booms, the “motherland” is catching the attention of ethnic Chinese such as Ang, who were raised elsewhere.

In the past, the West was the most popular destination for Singaporeans studying abroad. However, in 2005, when Ang was in her third year at junior high school, a “Bicultural Studies Program” was added to the Singapore curriculum, teaching Chinese culture, history, politics and economics. The Singapore government also began handing out scholarships to encourage young people to study in China. With China developing at a breakneck pace, the aim was to raise a generation of Chinese-literate citizens who could contribute to Singapore’s future. The same year saw 20 Singaporean Chinese heading off to study in Beijing. By 2006, this number had increased fivefold.

Singaporeans receive a Western–style education, so Ang says people of her generation tend to have the same outlook as young people in the West.

Ang used to think Chinese people often lacked manners.

“I couldn’t understand why they didn’t queue properly and tried to push others out of the way,” she says.

After studying in Beijing for four years, though, her outlook has changed slightly. “Once you live in China you understand; with so many people here, you wouldn’t get anywhere if you just queued up politely. I realized that if you want to survive in China, you just have to fight your way through.”

Ang says she is not a fan of everything modern-day China has to offer. “To take one example, China clearly has a problem with air pollution. But Singapore says it needs workers who have lived in China, so if I keep heading down this path, it will position me well for the future. I will have an advantage over others. That’s the main thing for me.” She plans to stay in China for a while after graduating.

The pull of China’s growing economy can also be felt in Indonesia, where ethnic Chinese are in the minority.

“I am so happy China is doing well. It makes me feel proud,” says Herman Kasem, 39, a worker at the Indonesian branch of a major Chinese steel company.

A fourth-generation immigrant, Herman lived in Jakarta up until university and could speak no Chinese at all. At age 25, he accompanied a sick relative who was going to China to receive long-term treatment at a Beijing hospital. While there, he studied Chinese. On his return to Indonesia two years later, he got a job at a lumber company. When one of his Chinese clients realized Herman could speak Chinese, he was offered a job.

Anti-Chinese demonstrations were common in Indonesia under the regime of former President Suharto, who held office for more than 30 years. For a long time, it was forbidden to teach Chinese in schools. Shops owned by ethnic Chinese were also targeted in riots in the late 1990s. Herman recalls being bullied as a child because of his Chinese ancestry. In recent times, though, Indonesia’s rulers have worked hard to improve relations with China.

“Lots of cash is flowing into Indonesia from China and there are now more chances for Indonesian Chinese like me. People won’t look down on me anymore,” he says.

Dandy Fantoan, 31, works for an IT company. When he was a child, he says he almost lost his sense of identity. “I couldn’t speak Chinese and considered myself to be Indonesian, but others regarded people like me as Chinese.”

His father often told him to never forget his Chinese roots. Indeed, it was due to his father’s recommendation that Dandy went to Beijing to study at Tsinghua University. On his return to Indonesia, he found work at a company that was opening a string of department stores and businesses across China. He says the more China rose to global prominence, the more strongly he felt Chinese.

“I love Indonesia, but I also don’t want to lose my Chinese identity,” says Dandy. “As an Indonesian Chinese, I want to become a bridge connecting the two countries.”


In a basic Arabic course for foreign students at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, the teacher writes simple Arabic sentences on the blackboard.

The students recite the words, “The student studies Arabic. The student plays soccer.”

Al-Azhar, one of the most prestigious centers of Islamic learning, attracts 40,000 Muslim students from 140 countries. There has been a surge in the number of Chinese students over the last five or six years.

According to Sheikh Ali Abdul Baqi, head of the university’s Islamic Research Center, there are currently 1,534 Chinese students.

The Chinese diaspora stretches far and wide across the globe. This diaspora is often synonymous with Han Chinese, but with Chinese economic influence spreading across the Middle East and Africa, the Muslim “Hui” ethnic group is rising to prominence as a bridge between the China and the Islamic world.

Muslims only account for around 1.5 percent of China’s population, but this still adds up to an impressive 20 million people. Many Muslims came to China in the 13th century, when the Mongol Empire ruled from China down to west Asia. Apart from certain minorities such as the Uighurs, Chinese-speaking Muslims are known as “Hui.” Islamic communities can be found throughout the whole country.

According to Sheikh Ali Abdul Baqi, head of the Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Center, there are currently 1,534 Chinese students. “This is proof that China and Egypt are forging closer bonds,” he says.

Near the dormitory for overseas students, there is a Chinese restaurant. It was opened two years ago by Amina Nashwan and her mother. Amina, 21, is an international student who hails from Liaoning province. The chef, 31-year-old Marsis, is another international student from China. The restaurant provides authentic Chinese food at inexpensive prices and is always busy.

Chinese goods such as clothes, sundries and electrical products are now flooding into stores throughout Cairo and the wider Arabian world. Xinhua, China’s official news agency, built a new building for its Middle East Regional Bureau in Cairo in 2005. Most of its articles are translated into Arabic before dispatch.

Lin Ma, 26, hails from Yunnan province and is a fourth-year Arabic student at Al-Azhar University. “In the future I want to teach Islamic education back home, but I might also work as an Arabic interpreter for a company in Guangzhou for a while to earn money,” he said.

Another international student is Chao Wang, 28, a Hui Chinese who also comes from Yunnan. He teaches at an Islamic school back home under the Islamic name of “Abdel Wahab Ben Adam.” He enthusiastically spoke about his desire to “study in Arabic at the most prestigious Islamic education institution.”

As a Muslim, Wang is well-aware of his dual responsibility as a bearer both of Chinese culture and of a wider, borderless Islamic civilization.



23岁的昂依林是一位华裔新加坡人,自幼就读于中文学校 ,因此说一口流利的普通话。尽管如此,她仍然承认自己在来北大之前,对中国知之甚少。但随着中国经济的发展,“祖国”正吸引着他们这些在外长大的华裔人士的目光。




































China dream:马克-奥尼尔的寻根之旅


(翻译:糖糖爱 编辑:Julie)