Based on published sources as well as information gathered through observations and interviews, this article intends to provide a general account of the adaptation of the Vietnamese refugees in China since the late 1970s. The description and analysis are focused on three aspects of the social-political life of this community, namely, its initial resettlement, its subsequent division, dispersion and stratification, and the process, problems and prospects of its assimilation. The article argues that whereas Western countries adopted the International Refugee Regime – primarily a European product – in resettling the Vietnamese refugees, China's resettlement policies reflected her experience in handling the returned overseas Chinese from Southeast Asia in the 1950s and 1960s. Although the relocation temporarily reduced all migrants to refugees, the diverse nature of the migrant community, the different local conditions in China, as well as China's official policies contributed to the reemergence of social-economic stratification among the migrants, and this was accompanied by their geographic dispersion. Though assimilation has been going on ever since they entered China, the migrants have managed to maintain their group identity, which, however, is not sustainable.
Bibliographical noteThe author wishes to thank the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange and the Butler University Institute for Research and Scholarship for financial assistance for this study.
- returned overseas Chinese