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Coming Home to a Foreign CountryXiamen and Returned Overseas Chinese, 1843-1938$
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Soon Keong Ong

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781501756184

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501756184.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM Cornell University Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.cornell.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Cornell University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in Cornell for personal use. date: 26 June 2022

Facilitating Migration

Facilitating Migration

Xiamen as a Migration Hub

(p.63) 3 Facilitating Migration
Coming Home to a Foreign Country

Soon Keong Ong

Cornell University Press

This chapter dissects Xiamen transformation into the in-between place of Minnan and explains the migration mechanisms and processes through the port city. The chapter looks at the economic impacts migration had on the emigrants themselves and the families they left behind in China as well as the transformative effects migration had on a city, especially one that witnessed the coming and going of a large number of people. Xiamen became known to the world as the depot for cheap Chinese hands when it was designated the first center in China for the disreputable trade in Chinese “coolies,” that is, indentured laborers under contract to foreigners. With such awareness, the chapter highlights Xiamen's role in the coolie trade until 1850. It unravels how the coolie trade — initiated and determined by European firms — left a particularly bad mark on the Chinese minds as it was perceived to be another form of imperialist exploitation of China. The chapter then investigates the development and evolvement of Xiamen as it catered to the needs of the emigrants: as a funnel city, as a budding financial center, and as a regional metropolis.

Keywords:   Xiamen, Minnan, migration, emigrants, China, port city, Chinese coolies, indentured laborers, imperialist exploitation

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