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Professor Wang Gungwu explained that ‘Overseas Chinese’, or ‘Huaqiao (华侨)’ refers to Chinese nationals – the citizens of the People’s Republic of China (including Hong Kong and Macau residents without right of abode elsewhere) and the nationals of the Republic of China (Taiwan) – who left their homeland to live abroad.


The terms ‘Huaren (华人)’ (ethnic Chinese) and ‘Huayi (华裔)’ (people of Chinese descent) refer to people who are ethnically Chinese but have foreign nationality or permanent residence rights in countries other than the territories mentioned above.

As the Chinese have emigrated far and wide, there are currently more than 30 million Chinese living all over the world. From the eighteenth till the mid-nineteenth century, emigration has been mainly channelled through occupational and clan associations (‘Huiguan 会馆’) based on dialect and native-place ties. These associations helped the new emigrants settle down and also played an important role in regulating economic activities, recruiting emigrants for work and maintaining links to the homeland.

Before the late twentieth century, Chinese emigrants were mostly from the southeastern coastal areas around Guangzhou (广州) and Xiamen (厦门) and established wide trading and shipping networks throughout East and Southeast Asia. Hakka (客家), Chaozhou (潮州)and other emigrants also engaged in trade but were more prominent in the areas of mining and commercial agriculture.

From the 19th century to 1949, wars and starvation in mainland China fueled mass Chinese emigration. The chaos in their homeland sent millions of poorly educated, or even illiterate, Chinese abroad to work as labourers (also known as ‘coolies’ 苦力) in America, Australia, South Africa and Southeast Asia.

After the middle of the 19th century, the political transformation of East Asia and the growth of world markets stimulated an outflow of laborers from the rural areas of southeastern China to the mines and plantations mainly in Malaya and Indonesia. These laborers typically returned home after saving enough money, but there was also a significant number among them who chose to settle down.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a new wave of emigration saw single women sent out to marry the men who are overseas, and wives and children emigrating to reunite with their husbands and fathers who were abroad. The migrants of this period included educated people – teachers, journalists, students, political refugees and etc. They brought their communication and organizational skills with them, connecting the emergent communities with a modernizing China.

In the late 20th century, the source for Chinese emigrants extended beyond the traditional emigrant regions to include professionals and students from Taiwan, Hong Kong and other parts of China. Most emigrated to developed countries like North America, Europe and Australasia. They chose to leave for better economic and educational opportunities for themselves and their children.

At the same time, millions of legal and illegal Chinese workers moved to countries in the Middle East, Africa, Siberia and Myanmar. The Chinese Diaspora expanded and became more diverse during this period.


  1. Brill’s encyclopedia of China. Boston, Brill, 2009.
  2. The Encyclopedia of the Chinese Overseas. 2nd ed. Singapore, Chinese Heritage Centre, 2006.
  3. Oxford Reference Online – Premium Collection

Topics/Course Guides

Early Textbook Digital Project Launched

If you have heard or visited our early textbook special collection at Wang Gungwu library, you might be very impressed by these precious resources. Now we present this online bibliography for your easy access to this collection at any time anywhere as you like! It...

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出版社: 中华书局  商务印书馆 出版年份: 1957- 特点:1950年,中国的商务印书馆与当地的三联书局、中华书局、开明书局、联营书店联合组织中国图书发行公司,商务与中华在在新加坡的分局也因总馆的合并而有关系。两家分局在1957年联合出版了“中商版”教科书,加入战后新加坡、马来西亚与印尼教科书市场的竞争。...

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Selected Resources


You can either BROWSE the book collection in the Library or SEARCH the Library Catalogue.

Browsing the collection

The main book collection on Chinese Overseas is located at the Chinese Library and the Wang Gungwu Library. There are also English titles at the Humanities & Social Sciences Library and Business Library.

They are classified using the Library of Congress Classification Number System (LCCS) which means that books with similar subject matter are shelved near to each other. Each book spots a call number which is a group of numbers and letters located at the book spine. You can use the call numbers as a guide to locate books on the shelves. For example, you can browse the shelves labelled DS732 to DS735 when looking for the Chinese Overseas collection.

Below is a list of core subject areas related to Chinese Overseas with their corresponding call numbers.

Search Terms LC subject headings LC Class
Chinese Overseas Chinese — Foreign countries DS732 – DS735
Chinese migrations Chinese — migrations DS732
Chinese Emigration and immigration China Emigration and immigration DS599
Chinese in Foreign countries Chinese – Foreign countries DS732
Chinese in Southeast Asia Chinese – Southeast Asia DS523.4.C45
DS 503 — DS610
Chinese in Indonesia Chinese — Indonesia DS632.3.C5
Chinese in Malaysia Chinese — Malaysia DS595.2.C5
Chinese in Singapore Chinese — Singapore DS610.25.C5

Selected book lists by subject

To help you get started, I have created book lists on the following topics. Click on them to retrieve the relevant books.

Chinese Overseas (English titles)
Chinese Overseas (Chinese titles)
China Emigration and Immigration
Chinese in Foreign Countries
Chinese in Southeast Asia
Chinese in Malaysia
Chinese in Singapore

Searching for books

How to find subject terms for a Library Catalogue search

You can find a list of books on a specific subject by searching the Library Catalogue under the appropriate LC subject headings as listed above. Remember to use the drop down menu and select SUBJECT.

Improve your search results with these catalogue tips.

The library does not have a particular book? Recommend it to us

Students can send an e-mail to with as much details about the item as possible – Title, Author/editor, Place of publication, Publisher or producer, Date of publication, ISBN, Edition and Price.

Staff can use Staff Link – Under Resource Request – Library Services – Book Recommendation. Alternatively, you can refer to the New Title Recommendation website for more details.


Reference Works

Reference books refer to dictionaries, handbooks, encyclopedias, yearbooks, abstracts, almanacs, biographies and etc. They are great if you are doing a quick check on definitions, descriptions or facts and figures. Find reference titles for Chinese Overseas using the Library Catalogue’s Advanced search and specifying the TYPE as REFERENCE. See Catalogue FAQs for more tips. A selection of reference books are presented below. Click on the hyperlinked titles to check availability in the Library.





Content at a Glance

Dictionaries 字典
Encyclopedias 百科全书
Biographic dictionaries 传记
Bibliographies, Reviews and Indexes 书目、综述、索引

Dictionaries 字典

  1. 華僑大辭典 Call No. DS733.H874
  2. 世界华侨华人词典 Dictionary of oversea Chinese Call No. DS732.S555

Encyclopedias 百科全书

  1. The encyclopedia of the Chinese overseas Call No. DS732.E56 2006
  2. 华侨华人百科全书 (12 volumes) Call No. DS732.H874

Biographic Dictionaries 传记

  1. Biographical dictionary of the Chinese in Malaysia Call No. DS595.2.C5L477
  2. 华侨爱国心 Call No. DS732.H874A
  3. 馬來西亞跨世纪名人錄 = Who’s who in Malaysian Chinese community, new millennium 2000-2001 Call No. DS595.2.C5M111K
  4. 马新报人录, 1806-2000 = Who’s who in the press, Malaysia & Singapore, 1806-2000 Call No. PN5449.M4Y25M
  5. 世界华人精英传略. (7 volumes) (港澳卷, 美国卷, 南美洲与加拿大卷, 泰国卷, 新加坡与马来西亚卷, 印度尼西亚卷) Call No. DS732.S555D

Bibliographies, Reviews and Indexes 书目、综述、索引

  1. A bibliography of Japanese works on the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, 1914-1945 Call No. Z3221.H631
  2. 东南亚与华侨华人研究论文索引, 2001-2005年 Call No. DS521.D682Q
  3. 华侨华人硏究中文书目 Call No. DS732.X8

A database may contain subject-based or multidisciplinary data that includes journal articles, conference papers, reviews, standards, news articles and much more.


Listed here are some databases that contain academic articles and information on Chinese Overseas. Click on the names of the databases to open them. Login with your NTU Network username and password if prompted.

CNKI 中国知网

CNKI stands for China National Knowledge Infrastructure and is a major academic resource from mainland China. The Library’s subscription consists of full-text access to:

  1. Academic articles on Literature/History/Philosophy (1994 – present), Politics/Military/Law (1994 – present), Education/Social Sciences (1994 – present) and Electronic Technology & Information Science (2003–2008)
  2. China Doctor/Master’s Dissertation on Literature/History/Philosophy (2003-2006) and Politics/Military/Law (2003-2006)

View its Database information page.

If you prefer to read in Chinese, check out 中文使用指南 and 中国知网数据导出方法 for information on exporting data from CNKI to EndNote.


This is another academic database that has resource on: Philosophy/Politics/Law, Social Sciences, Economics/Finance and Health/Medicine with full-text available from 1997 onwards.

View its Database information page.

If you prefer to read in Chinese, check out 中文使用指南 and 万方数据导出方法 for details on exporting data from WANFANG database to EndNote.

Last but not least, check out relevant core journals from WANFANG. You can click on the journal titles to open the full text of articles directly.

WiseSearch 慧科讯业

Wiser is a Chinese news provider from Hong Kong and covers 742 main Chinese newspapers from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and other Asia Pacific countries. View its Database information page.

If you prefer to read in Chinese, check out 慧讯科业检索方法 for user guides.

Other related databases

  1. Bibliography of Asian Studies
    This is the electronic version of the Bibliography of Asian Studies (BAS) which contains over 640,000 records on all subjects (especially in the humanities and the social sciences) pertaining to East, Southeast, and South Asia published worldwide from 1971 to the present. View its Database information page.
    Factiva provides news and business information. It covers 10,000 sources from more than 159 countries in 22 languages and offers more than 400 continuously updated newswires, including the exclusive combination of Dow Jones, Reuters and The Associated Press. View its Database information page.
  3. JSTOR
    This database provides backfiles of core scholarly journals in many disciplines including Chinese migration, Chinese immigration, Chinese overseas and etc. View its Database information page.
  4. ProQuest [Dissertations & Theses]
    This database contains doctoral dissertations and master’s theses. Dissertations published from 1980 onwards include a 350-word abstract written by the author while master’s theses published from 1988 onwards include a 150-word abstract.

Databases on Standalone PCs

These databases cannot be accessed remotely. Click on the titles to find out how to access these resources.

  1. Singapore National Bibliography (SNB)
    The Singapore National Bibliography contains bibliographic records of all works published or produced in the Republic of Singapore. CD-ROM on SNB contains records of printed annual bibliography, covering works in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.
  2. Singapore Periodicals Index (SPI) CD-ROM
    SPI CD-ROM is a compilation of the Singapore Periodicals Index from 1981-1995. It indexes over 50,000 articles in periodicals published in Singapore.


There are more print journals than electronic journals in this interdisciplinary studies. However because it is more convenient to access, I shall cover electronic journals first before elaborating the print ones.



Access e-journal titles via the Library’s A-to-Z list. Here’s how:

  1. Select E-Journals from the Library Homepage
  2. Select Titles A to Z
  3. Type in the journal title if you know the exact journal title in the quick search box, or type in the key words if you are unsure
  4. You can also search the journals by subject: Click the “Subjects” tab and select “History (general) and history of Europe” from the drop-down list
  5. In the retrieved list, choose History of Asia / China to call up a list of journals on Chinese History.
  6. Each title contains the journal title, the databases that it is found in, the ISSN, the publisher and the subject headings. Click the database link to access the journal

Key e-journals on China Overseas

Click on the journal titles to retrieve the journal.

  1. China: An International Journal
  2. Journal of Chinese Overseas
  3. The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs Continued by The China Journal
  4. China Information
  5. China Quarterly
  6. Journal of contemporary China
  7. Modern China
  8. Chinese Studies in History
  9. American Asia Review
  10. Journal of Asian Studies

Print Journals

Chinese print journals are located at the Chinese Library or the Wang Gungwu Library. English print titles are in the HSS Library or the Wang Gungwu Library.

If you have a specific title in mind, find the call number and location via the Library Catalogue. Enter the journal title in the search box and select JOURNAL TITLE from the drop down menu.

Important Note: Articles titles are not searchable in the library catalogue. You can only search for the journal titles.

I have compiled a list of print journal titles on Chinese Overseas and arranged them according to type of journals.

Academic journals

  1. Journal of Chinese overseas
    Call No. DS732.J86
  2. 海外華人硏究
    Call No. DS732.H149
  3. 华侨华人历史研究 = Overseas Chinese history studies
    Call No. DS732.H874
  4. 華僑經濟年鑑
    Call No. DS732.H874
  5. 華僑歷史論叢
    Call No. DS732.H874S
  6. 华侨史
    Call No. DS732.H874Q
  7. 华侨与华人=The Chinese overseas
    Call No. DS732.H874QR
  8. 华人研究国际学报 = The international journal of diasporic Chinese studies
    Call No. DS732.H874YJ
  9. 華人月刊 = Life overseas
    Call No. DS732.H874YK
  10. 华人之声 = Voice of the Chinese
    Call No. DS732.H874R12
  11. 世界華僑年鑑
    Call No. DS732.S555J
  12. 僑史學報 = Journal of overseas Chinese history
    Call No. DS732.Q1
  13. 上海侨史论丛
    Call No. DS732.S528
  14. 民族與華僑論文集
    Call No. DS730.M663Y
  15. Britain-China : the magazine of the Great Britain-China Centre
    Call No. DA125.C5B862
  16. 八桂侨史
    Call No. DS732.B111


  1. 联合早报
    Call No. AN2.L693

Newsletters/ Bulletins

  1. Societies
    1. 海外華人研究通訊 = Newsletter for overseas Chinese studies
      Call No. DS732.H149J
  2. Chinese Clan Associations (Singapore and Malaysia)
    1. 晋江会讯
      Call No. HS2180.S56X28J
    2. 客总会讯
      Call No. HS2180.S56N4K
    3. 吕氏通讯 = Loo Newsletter
      Call No. HS2180.S56L31T
    4. 新加坡彭氏總會會訊 1989
      Call No. HS2180.S56P4H
    5. 馬來西亞福建社團聯合會會訊 = Persekutuan Persatuan Hokkien Malaysia Berita Persatuan Hokkien
      Call No. HS2180.M4M239X
    6. 馬來西亞晉江社團聯合會會訊
      Call No. HS2180.M4M28
  3. Chinese Clan Associations (other countries)
    1. 番禺僑讯 = Overseas Chinese news of Panyu
      Call No. DS797.32.G836P198P
  4. Research Centres/Institutions
    1. 華裔館通訊 = CHC bulletin
      Call No. LG398.H874
    2. 南洋大學 = Nanyang University
      Call No. LG395.S57N193y

Annual Reports

  1. 南洋大學常年報告 = Annual report, Nanyang University
    Call No. LG395.S57N193D


  1. 美國西北華人歷史學會年刊 1984-1986 = The Annals of the Chinese Historical Society of the Pacific Northwest
    Call No. F855.2.C5A613
  2. 旅英華僑年鑑 = Overseas Chinese in Britain year book
    Call No. DA125.C5L926
Web Resources

Here are some selected web resources on Chinese Overseas. Most of them are websites of research centres and institutions around the world that conduct active research on Overseas chinese or have sizeable collection of related books and research materials.


  1. Chinatownology – Overseas Chinese
  2. Chinese Professionals (华专网)
  3. Overseas Chinese Network
    Meet Chinese from all over the world
  4. Migration Information Source
  5. 海外华人的全球化与地化
  6. 五邑华侨华人数据库


  1. 电子报


  1. International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas (ISSCO)

Research Centres/Institutions

A. Studies of Chinese Overseas in Singapore and Malaysia

  1. Centre for Malaysian Chinese Studies
  2. Chinese Heritage Centre (Singapore)
  3. Chinese Overseas Databank and Research
  4. East Asian Institute at National University of Singapore
  5. 新加坡国立大学图书馆东南亚华人历史文献
  6. 新加坡国立大学图书馆海外华人研究

B. Studies of Chinese Overseas in East Asia and Southeast Asia

  1. Centre for Asia-Pacific Area Studies, RCHSS, Academia Sinica (亚太区域研究专题中心)
  2. Centre for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS)
    National Cheng Kung University (成功大学东南亚研究中心)
  3. Centre for the Study of the Chinese Southern Diaspora (CSCSD)
    Australia National University
  4. Chinese Overseas in South East Asia
    Library of Congress
  5. Institute of South Asian Studies
    Sichuan University (四川大学南亚研究所)
  6. Southeast Asia Research Centre (SEARC)
  7. 厦门大学东南亚研究中心

C. Studies of Chinese Overseas in other countries

  1. Chinese Overseas Collection
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong (香港中文大学图书馆海外华人特藏)
  2. Data Centre for Overseas Chinese Studies
  3. Dr. Shao You-Bao Overseas Chinese Documentation and Research Centre
  4. Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  5. Overseas Chinese Clippings Database
    Hong Kong Baptist University Library ( 香港浸信会大学海外华侨华人剪报数据库)
  6. The Overseas Chinese Information & Data Centre
    Jinan University Library (暨南大学图书馆华侨华人文献信息中心)
  7. The World Confederation of Institutes and Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies (WCILCOS)
Student Works

Access students’ works such as Final Year Projects (FYP), theses, internship or attachment reports in our Digital Repository restricted collections. Log in using NTU network user name and password to view the full text.

HSS Theses Collection

As Overseas Chinese research are mostly done at a postgraduate level, more relevant research output would be in the form of theses and dissertations. These would be located within the HSS Theses Collection. Access the search results for Overseas Chinese to view theses related to Chinese Overseas.

Centre for Chinese Language & Culture Collection

The postgraduate programmes conducted by the Centre for Chinese Language & Culture (CCLC) (中华语言文化中心) have also resulted in a sizeable collection of theses and dissertations. They can be located within the Digital Repository (restricted) under the Centre for Chinese Language & Culture community.

CHNOVS_community home page

Access the search results for Overseas Chinese to view the CCLC theses related to Chinese Overseas.

Staff Publications

DR-NTU (Open Access) stands for Digital Repository – Open Access. It contains publications consisting of journal articles and conference papers written by NTU staff. The papers deposited in this repository are indexed by search engines.


HSS Staff papers

We encourage researchers to upload their research papers to DR-NTU Open Access. Copyright policies and archiving guidelines of your publishers can be found at Sherpa Romeo .

If you would like to submit your journal article or conference paper for inclusion into our Library Collection, please read the instructions about submission.

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