The Significance of the Overseas Chinese in East Asia

Authored by: Gordon C. K. Cheung

Routledge Handbook of Asian Regionalism

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415580540
eBook ISBN: 9780203803608
Adobe ISBN: 9781136634734


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Very often, those who have studied overseas Chinese and Chinese business activities in Southeast Asia have heard a legend, which precisely characterizes the ideas, if not myths, behind overseas Chinese business networks and the peculiar political culture in Southeast Asia. The legend begins with a backdrop of the civil war of Indonesia in 1965–6, when Sukarno, then president of Indonesia, chased Suharto (a rebel military leader) in Jakarta. A Chinese grocery-store owner risked his life by saving Suharto in his store. After the end of the civil war, Suharto eventually became the new president. As a result, the Chinese grocery-store owner who had saved the new president’s life became the richest Chinese businessman in Indonesia. The name of the grocery-store owner was Liem Sioe Liong, 2 who later established the Salim Group, which became the largest ethnic Chinese corporation in Indonesia.

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