Print media content is often stored in databases, and after a few decades passes fromthe realm of current affairs into historical record. These electronic resources are easilysearchable, and can be parsed with software tools that can reveal patterns not readilyapparent in selective manual sampling of old media.It is my belief that a structured, computer-assisted analysis of the electronic archivesof the Xinhua General Overseas News Service from the late 1970s can help us better understand China’s emerging overseas Chinese policy, and the extent to which it wasupheld in dealings with Kampuchea and Vietnam. My content analysis of Xinhua will beaugmented by more traditional historical methods of research, including references toindividual Xinhua news items. I will also cite scholarly literature on the PRC’s overseasChinese policy, the nature of Chinese mass media and Xinhua’s English wire service,trilateral relations between China, Vietnam, and Kampuchea.
Overseas Chinese Communities in Vietnam and Kampuchea
In the mid to late 1970s, Vietnam and Kampuchea were similar in several respects,besides their proximity in mainland Southeast Asia. Both countries had sizable Chinesecommunities, numbering between 430,000 and 450,000 in Kampuchea in 1975, and 1.2million in Vietnam. Marxist governments ruled both countries — Kampuchea by theradical Communist movement known as the Khmer Rouge, and Vietnam by aCommunist government that had forcibly united North and South Vietnam in April 1975after a long civil war. Additionally, both the Khmer Rouge and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam actively persecuted ethnic Chinese living within their respective areas of controlin the mid to late 1970s, resulting in the forced displacement of hundreds of thousandsof ethnic Chinese from each country and the deaths of an estimated 215,000Kampuchean ethnic Chinese
and approximately 30,000 ethnic Chinese from Vietnam.