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A Diasporic Approach to China:The Case of the East Asian Institute of Singapore and John Wong
SHIH CHIH YU
CHEN CHANG HUNG
the strategy of identity
The China Studies in Singapore is distinct; it has evolved from specific historical contexts. Both political and academic leaders have played important roles in shaping China studies. The East Asian Institute is particularly critical to China Studies in Singapore. This has to do with its function as well as its leadership. This paper introduces the EAI and its leadership from a diasporic theory point of view. Specifically, Professor John Wong, together with those colleagues he has recruited and advised, represented the Singaporean style of China studies. John Wong, who came originally from Hong Kong, received his training in the West. His, as well as his colleagues’, lack of local connection fits perfectly well into Singapore’s strategic choices which are to attend closely to China’s growth, avoid ethnic sensibilities among Southeast Asian neighbors, and remain its Western outlook. The diasporic characteristics is present both in the design of the institute and the composition of its staff. By tracing the three stages in the institute’s history, the paper explains the transformation of China Studies in Singapore.
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