Academic journal article SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia

Chinese Newspapers in Cho Lan, 1930-1975

Academic journal article SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia

Chinese Newspapers in Cho Lan, 1930-1975

Article excerpt

In quality and quantity, the Chinese press in Cho Lon was the best in Southeast Asia [in the 1960s], and third in Asia behind Taiwan and Hong Kong.  Man Man ([phrase omitted] 2012, p. 47) (1)  For nearly three decades [after 1945], Saigon continued to play a unique role as Vietnam's forum of independent debate.... From the dictatorial rule of President Ngo Dinh Diem (1955-1963) to the reign of President Nguyen Van Thieu (1967-1975), the Saigon newspaper village survived notwithstanding state censorship and the ensuing mass production of commercial media.  Philippe Peycam (2012, p. 220) 

In the mid-twentieth century, Cho Lon ([phrase omitted])--Vietnam's Chinese-dominated city--was a powerhouse of Chinese newspaper publishing in Southeast Asia. During this period, the proliferation of Cho Lon Chinese newspapers meant that it ranked only after Taipei and Hong Kong as a centre of the Chinese-language press. In its heyday during the era of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, 1955-75), fourteen daily newspapers circulated there (Man 2012, p. 45). At the time of the fall of the RVN on 30 April 1975, eleven Chinese dailies remained in circulation (Man 2012, p. 9). This research note gives a brief overview of Cho Lon's Chinese periodicals. I highlight the content of some of the newspapers available to researchers. Cho Lon Chinese periodicals are a rich resource for several fields of scholarship, including--but not limited to--Sinophone studies, Chinese diaspora studies and modern Vietnamese history.

Located some three miles from Saigon (Sai Gon), Cho Lon emerged in the late seventeenth to mid-eighteenth centuries as a result of the mass migration of Chinese into Southeast Asia during the seventeenth century. In the century following its emergence, Cho Lon--along, more broadly, with southern Vietnamese coastal towns --was part of maritime Southeast Asia, integrated into the trade routes traversing the South China Sea (Li 2004). Important institutions founded during this period included the Suicheng congregation ([phrase omitted]), whose majestic building served the Cantonese community as a place of gathering and of worship.

The most significant influx of Chinese into Cho Lon resulted from the opportunities that arose from the French colonial presence in Indochina from the 1880s onward. Its members working as merchants, middlemen, labourers and practitioners of other occupations, the Chinese population of the city grew. According to one European travel writer, some sixty thousand Chinese lived in Saigon and Cho Lon in the 1880s (The French in Indo-China 1884). This number increased greatly; by the 1930s there were some three hundred thousand Chinese living in southern Vietnam (Viet Bao 1945). Over the next four decades the total would grow. Following the Geneva Accords of 1954, many Chinese moved from the northern Vietnamese cities of Hanoi (Ha Noi) and Haiphong (Hai Phong) and resettled in both Cho Lon and in resettlement villages located just outside the city. In 1957 some one million Chinese lived in southern Vietnam, and this number grew to 1.2 million in 1972 (Marsot 1993, p. 6).

Of this total, some eight hundred thousand lived in the Saigon--Cho Lon metropolitan area, where they represented more than a quarter of the inhabitants (Bich 1972, pp. 29-30).

Historical Overview

Prior to the 1930s, several Chinese newspapers operated in Cho Lon. The first Chinese newspaper published there was the Nanqin Ribao ([phrase omitted]), (2) launched in 1918. Two years later, on 10 October 1920, a second Chinese newspaper, the Huaqiao Bao [phrase omitted]), was founded. The Huaqiao Bao's owners included Cen Qibo [phrase omitted]), Yu Qunchao ([phrase omitted]) and others. The Huaqiao Bao was later renamed the Huaqiao Ribao ([phrase omitted]), but it stopped publication in 1925, when Yu decided to start the Qun Bao ([phrase omitted]). That latter year was also the one in which China's direct entanglement with Cho Lon's press started, when the Kuomintang ([phrase omitted], KMT) established the Guomin Ribao ([phrase omitted]) (Man 2012, p. …

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