This chapter explains that although the search for identity is a personal task, in both the reasons prompting such a search and its results are entwined larger questions involving the nature of a society. It notes that scholars of Chinese diaspora have discussed that most of the large numbers of emigrants from China in the late nineteenth and through the first half of the twentieth centuries initially regarded themselves as sojourners and not as permanent settlers in the countries to which they had journeyed in search of better opportunities. The chapter explains that without necessarily diluting earlier local Chinese identities, different developments led to the creation of a new Chinese national identity among ethnic Chinese communities abroad. It discusses three developments in overseas Chinese identities observed during the post-World War II era that have led to an emerging debate about the meaning of “being Chinese.”
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