The threat of Chinese imperialism in the 1920’s- Teacher training edition

In the 1920’s officials in the Dutch East Indies became concerned about the threat of Chinese Imperialism. This was a new concern for them. For a very long time the Dutch, and other colonialists had been eager to attract Chinese migrants, as they were the best way to develop a colony. They were “The only bees on Formosa that give honey.” One of the early governors of the Dutch East Indies said that

It is requisite by this monsoon to send another fleet to visit the coast of China and take prisoners as many men, women and children as possible… If the war proceed against China… an especial foresight must be used to take a very great number of Chinese, especially women and children, for the peopling of Batavia, Amboyna, and Banda.1

The Dutch eventually became worried about the Chinese, and by the late 1800s were creating all sort of ways to control and limit them they were mostly afraid of the Chinese as a race. (good old Yellow Peril stuff). They limited Chinese movement and tried to restrict their economic power, but were not terribly concerned with their contacts with China. Nobody was concerned with the actual existing Chinese state extending its control into Southeat Asia. According to Liu Oiyan, that changed in both the British and the Dutch colonies as more nationalistic education began to spread from China. 2 Jinan College was founded in 1906 and re founded in 1917 (first in Nanjing, then in Shanghai) to encourage nationalism among Chinese in Southeast Asia, especially those who would go on to teach in Chinese schools there.  “Jinan was the principle stronghold of Chinese Imperialism in the modern period that should not be welcomed by the colonial powers in Asia.” (p.100) Keeping out Chinese teachers became a key goal of Dutch policy. They also fought back by establishing Dutch-language education for Chinese students and setting up their own teacher training programs. Both side tried to encourage teachers to become citizens of the requisite state.

This seems like an interesting topic that a lot could be done with, but I was particularly interested in how much this worried the colonialists. Although it is fairly well known  that Chinese nationalists and Nationalists tried to spread Nationalism among the overseas Chinese, this has not been portrayed as wildly successful. Yes, the Chinese state did get some donations and such, but they were nowhere near taking over Java or Malaya or even the International Settlement in Shanghai. I can’t but help think that Chinese in Nanjing and Shanghai would have been gratified by the concern of the Dutch. Heck, even today Hanban would be overjoyed if it actually had the power that the Dutch thought the GMD did.

1 Vandenbosch, Amry. “A Problem in Java: The Chinese in the Dutch East Indies.” Pacific Affairs 3, no. 11 1930: 1001–17. doi:10.2307/2750073.
1 Liu, Oiyan. “Countering ‘Chinese Imperialism’: Sinophobia and Border Protection in the Dutch East Indies.” Indonesia, no. 97 (April 2014): 87–110,154.

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