Tracing the Chinese Footprints in Southeast Asia

Article excerpt

Amid the heightened tensions over the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea, we can still find some reasons to thank the Chinese. Looking back at history, we can appreciate their contribution to society and culture. Most of all, we can gain inspiration and the incentive of learning from them.

Veteran Australian correspondent Uli Schmetzer's newest book "The Chinese Juggernaut," made its debut at the Solidaridad Bookshop, Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila recently. The book was presented by the Philippine Center of the International PEN (Poets, Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists)

Subtitled "How the Chinese Conquered Southeast Asia," the book depicts the history and the impact of the Chinese diaspora in these countries.

Telling the past reality

"I wrote the book that is mainly based on the reportage in every country in Southeast Asia where the Chinese dominate," Schmetzer says.

In this book, the Australlian journalist shares behind the scene anecdotes that pegs the diaspora's history to a personality in each country: Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand, communist guerilla leader Chin Peng in Malaysia, the kidnap ordeal of the Dichaves family in the Philippines, retail tycoon Taam Sze-Pui who came to Australlia as gold miner and Anne, an anonymous rape victim during Indonesia's last anti-Chinese riots.

"The book is quiet realistic," he says. "I quoted all living people. This book is a reportage based mainly on sources from the Chinese who are quoted. It is also a book that takes in every country - one story and then develop that story."

Schmetzer was one of the well known foreign correspondents that covered major global events over the last 40 years from Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He initially worked for Reuters news agency and later on, he covered Asia for the Chicago Tribune. He was based in Beijing for eight years.

Chinese invasion

"There's no country in Southeast Asia that the Chinese do not dominate economically. …