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Urban Chinese Social Organization: Some Unexplored Aspects in Huiguan Development in Singapore, 1900–1941

  • Wing Chung Ng (a1)
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Immigrant associations known commonly as huiguan have long been a research area among specialists on the Overseas Chinese. Recently, the same subject has attracted increasing attention among scholars who attempt to examine urban life in late imperial China. In either case, the existing historical literature seems to have focused on the two following aspects of huiguan development: the various principles of organizational formation such as common native place, surname, occupation and the new locational identity, and how they interacted with one another and shaped the community structure; the functional relevance of huiguan firstly to the various needs of the immigrant society and the local elite, and secondly to the overriding concerns of the ruling authority, be it the Chinese imperial bureaucracy or the governing authorities in a foreign settlement. Yet few attempts have been made to delineate the longitudinal evolution of these associations over an extended period in any single locale, and above all, to provide an analytical framework to decipher the complex interplay of different forces behind organizational changes. Relying primarily on Chinese newspapers, huiguan archives and publications in Singapore,3 this paper represents a very preliminary effort along both lines. After a brief background discussion on the nineteenth century, I will try to document closely several significant features in the development of Chinese huiguan in Singapore between the turn of the century and the beginning of the Pacific War. The main thrust here is to demonstrate the possibility of going beyond number games, that pay too much attention to organizational inventory, to examine more substantive issues such as changes in organizational forms, the revamping of institutional set-ups, leadership turnover and varying functional priorities. Then the following section will seek to account for these organizational metamorphoses. It will be argued that our explanatory paradigm should at least consist of three categories of factors: domestic forces associated with community evolution; the impact of the host society; and influences emanating from China and particularly the native area.

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This is a revised version of a paper presented at the annual meeting of Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast, Stanford University, 29 June - 1 July, 1990. I would like to thank Mary Turnbull, Edgar Wickberg, W. E. Cheong, Ming Chan, Tay Lian Soo and Hamashita Takeshi for their advice and support in this research. In addition, I want to extend my gratitude to the Chinese social organizations in Singapore which gave me access to their archival materials.

1 A bibliographical essay would be needed to appreciate the breadth and depth of the existing literature on this topic. Specific works aside, many studies on the ethnic Chinese abroad have shed light on it. Nevertheless the loci classici are Skinner, G. W., Leadership and Power in the Chinese Community in Thailand (Ithaca, 1958) and Freedman, M., ‘Immigrants and Association: Chinese in Nineteenth-Century Singapore’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 3 (19601961), 2548.

2 Compared with what we have on the overseas Chinese, the size of the literature on the huiguan in urban China is more modest but is still considerable. Again I would confine myself to the loci classici: Jiliang, Dou, Tongxiang zuzhi zhi yanjiu (Studies on Native Place Organizations) (Chongqing, 1943);Ti, Ho Ping, Zhongguo huiguan shilun (An Historical Survey of Landsmannschaften in China) (Taipei, 1966); the relevant essays in Skinner, (ed.), The City in Late Imperial China (Stanford, 1977);Rowe, W. T., Hankow: Commerce and Society in a Chinese City 1796–1889 (Stanford, 1984), and Hankow: Conflict and Community in a Chinese City 1796–1895 (Stanford, 1989). Note also the Important studies by Japanese scholars such as Negishi Tadashi, Kato Shigeshi, Niida Noboru and Imahori Seiji on Chinese society in general and guild organizations in particular.

3 In the course of this study, three major local Chinese newspapers have been scrutinized. They are the Lat Pau (19121919), the Nanyang Siang Pau (1923–1941) and the Sin Chew Jit Poh (1929–1941). In subsequent reference, they will be rendered as LP, NYSP and SCJP respectively. As for the huiguan archival materials, I have used extensively the collections of the Singapore National Archives and those made available to me by individual associations. Chinese social organizations were first encouraged to deposit their historical records at the National Archives in the early 1970s and the repository has been growing since then. Materials extracted from it will be indicated by an ‘NA’ followed by the file specification. Last but not least, over seventy volumes of huiguan publications, mainly in the form of souvenir magazines, have been examined. The Singapore National Library, the University Libraries of the National University of Singapore and the University of Malaya all have significant holdings. For bibliographical aid, see Soo, Tay Lian, Xinma huazu shiliao wenxian huimu (Classified Bibliography of Chinese Historical Materials in Malaysia and Singapore) (Singapore, 1984), and Seng, Lim How, Singapore Chinese Huiguan Publications: A Bibliography (Singapore, 1989).

4 In rendering romanized names, I incline to respect local usages. Only when the original names of the organizations or the individuals in English form are not known, then I use pinyin as the general rule. The latter also applies to place names in China.

5 For a highly romantic version of the episode, see the account givien in Hua, Ngow, Xinjiapo huazu huiguan zhi (A General History of Ethnic China Associations in Singapore) vol. 2 (Singapore, 1975), 23.

6 The population data are from Ping, Lee Poh, Chinese Society in Nineteenth Century Singapore (Kuala Lumpur, 1978), 38, and Hock, Saw Swee, Singapore Population in Transition (Philadelphia, 1970), 57 The principal sources of information on huiguan demography are as follows: Lim-keak, Cheng, Social Change and the Chinese in Singapore—A Socio-economic Geography with Special Reference to Bang Structure (Singapore, 1985);Seng, Lim How, Shile guji (Monuments of Singapore) (Singapore, 1975); Moese, W. et al. , Chinese Regionalism in West Malaysia and Singapore (Hamburg, 1979); Hua, Ngow, Xinjiapo huazu huiguan zhi, 3 vols;Ching-hwang, Yen,A Social History of the Chinese in Singapore and Malaya 1800–1911 (Singapore, 1986); and the numerous huiguan publications.

7 The Sea Goddess and the Ta Po Kung were respective examples. For an informed discussion on popular regligion among the Chinese in Singapore, see Moese, et al. , Chinese Regionalism, 348ff. Also relevant is Lip, E., Chinese Temple Architecture in Singapore (Singapore, 1983).

8 Regarding the local functions of the huiguan, the best discussion to date is Yen Ching-hwang, A Social History of the Chinese. For an anthropological perspective, see Jiann, Hsieh, ‘Internal Structure and socio-cultural Change: A Chinese Case in the Multi-Ethnic Society of Singapore’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, 1977.

9 Bang was an extremely dynamic phenomenon discernible in Chinese society both at home and abroad. Depending on the unique sub-ethnic composition of the local community, a bang can denote the collective identity and socio-economic existence of a group of migrant traders and/or labourers. Members of a bang came from a defined territory which might include the the entire or a part of a macroregion, a single province, or various mixtures of prefectures and districts. Japanese scholars have studied this topic quite extensively (see note 2). Among western scholars, see Jones, Susan Mann, ‘The Ningpo Pang and Financial Power at Shanghai’, Elvin, M. and Skinner, W. (eds), The Chinese City between two Worlds (Stanford, 1974), 7396, and Rowe, Hankow: Commerce and Society, 254–76 passim. For some general discussions on bang overseas, see Guchuan, Chen, ‘Huaqiao yu diyu guannian’, (Overseas Chinese and Regional Identity) Nanyang Yanjiu 2 (10. 1928), 1929;Zhuhui, Wu, Huaqiao banzhi de fenxi (An Analysis of the Nature of the Overseas Chinese) (Taipei, 1983), 112–31. The following references are on the Chinese in Singapore and Malaya specifically: Fong, Mak Lau, Fangyanqun rentong: zaoqi xinma huaren de fenlei faze (Dialect Group Identity: A Study of Chinese Sub-ethnic Groups in early Malaya and Singapore) (Taipei, 1985);Suyama, Taku, ‘Pang Societies and the Economy of Chinese Immigrants: A Study on Communalism in Southeast Asia’, Tregonning, K. G. (ed.), Papers on Malayan Histroy (Singapore, 1962), 193213; and Ching-fatt, Young, ‘Pang, Pang Oraganizations and Leadership in the Chinese Community of Singapore during the 1930s’, Journal of the South Seas Society 32 (1977), 3152. Also cf. Lai, Him Mark, ‘Historical Development of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association/Huiguan System’, in Chinese America: History and Perspective 1987 (San Francisco, 1987), 1351.

10 Hua, Ngow, Xinjiapo huazu huiguan zhi, vol. 1, 57 and Lee Poh Ping, Chinese Society 50–1.

11 Hua, Ngow, Xinjiapo huazu huiguan zhi, vol. 1, 63 and Seng, Lim How, Shile guji, 21.

12 Lip, Chinese Temple Architecture, 62; Fudeci luyeting yuangeshi tekan (A History of the Fuk Tak Chi and Luyeting) (Singapore, 1963), 1920;Xinjiapo qiongzhou tianhougong qiongzhou huiguan dasha luocheng jinian tekan (Singapore Kiung Chow Tin Hou Kong Kiung Chow Hwee Kuan Building Opening Ceremony Souvenir Magazine) (Singapore, 1965), 65ff.

13 The most original discussion of this pattern of overlapping directorship and its implication for community leadership is Skinner, Leadership and Power. For the application of his model in other contexts, see Yuan, Li Yih, Yige yizhi de shizhen: malaiya huaren shizhen shenghuo diaocha yanjiu (An Immigrant Town: Life in an Overseas Chinese Community in South Malaya) (Taipei, 1968), and Straaton, K., ‘The Political System of the Vancouver Chinese Community: Associations and Leadership in the Early 1960s’, Master Thesis, University of British Columbia, 1974.

14 Tongji yiyuan dasha luocheng jinian takan (Thong Chai Medical Instituion Opening Ceremony Souvernir Magazine) (Singapore, 1979), 7, 104–5, 109–27.

15 Ching-fatt, Yong, Zhanqian xinghua shehui jiegou yu lingdaoceng chutan (A Preliminary Study of Chinese Community Structure and Leadership in Pre-war Singapore) (Singapore, 1977), 79.

16 One example was the Po Chiak Keng Tan Si Chong Su which began in 1878 as a Hokkien body. As early as 1883, Teochews were accepted as members. Hua, Ngow, Xinjiapo huazu huiguan zhi, vol. 2. 23–4.

17 NA Kwangtung Huay Kuan Minutes of Meetings of the Organizing Committee, 5 July 1938. Also NYSP, 6 July 1938.

18 Many contemporary observers and scholars have commented on the phenomenon of economic specialization or even monopolization by different subethnic groups. The best discussion to date is Cheng Lim-keak, Social Change and the Chinese in Singapore particularly chapter 5. The examples cited here are from Xinjiapo anxi huiguan jinxi jinian tekan (Singapore Ann Kway Association 50th Anniversary Souvenir) (Singapore, 1973), 357–8, 366–7.

19 Xinjiapo zhonghua zongshanghui qishiwu zhounian jinian tekan (Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry 75th Anniversary Souvenir Issue) (Singapore, 1982), 56. On the Kwangtung Huay Kuan and some isolated attempts on the part of a few reform-minded Chinese leaders to dismantle the rigid bang system, see Ng, Wing Chung, ‘Huiguan—Regional Institutions in the Development of Overseas Chinese Nationalism in Singapore, 1912–41’, M.Phil. Thesis, University of Hong Kong, 1987, 187–9, 228–41.

20 NYSP, 4 May 1928. Xingzhou huian gonghui wushi zhounian jinian tekan (Singapore Hui Ann Association 50th Anniversary Souvenir) (Singapore, 1979), 85. NA Ann Kway Association Minutes of Meetings, 5 Feb. 1933.

21 On these futile efforts, see the various issues in the NYSP in 1929, 1931 and 1932. The most prominent Hokkien leader, Kee, Tan Kah, has given an incomplete and partisan account of the events in his autobiography Nanqiao huiyilu (Tan Kah Kee: An Autobiography) (Singapore, 1946; repr. Hong, Kong, 1979), 3740passim.On the Nanyang Hokkien General Association, see NYSP, 1–2 April 1941. Notice the reminiscences of Tan in his Nanqiao huiyilu, 230–79 as well.

22 Malaixiya xinjiapo qiongzhou huiguan lianhehui sishi zhounian jinian tekan (Malaysia and Singapore Federation of Hainanese Associations 40th Anniversary Souvenir Magazine) (Johore, 1973), 10.NYSP, 16 Dec. 1933. Malaixiya chaozhou gonghui lianhehui di ershijiu zhounian jinian tekan (The Federated Teochew Associations of Malaysia 29th Anniversary Souvenir) (Singapore, 1964), 35–7. NA Nanyang Khek Community Guild Minutes of Meetings. Keshu zonghui shizhounian jinian tekan (Nanyang Khek Community Guild 10th Anniversary Souvenir) (Singapore, n.d.).

23 Siang, Song Ong, One Hundred Years´ History of the Chinese in Singapore (Singapore, 1923; reprinted 1984), 407–9.Hua, Ngow, Xinjiapo huazu huiguan zhi, vol. 1, 58. LP, 22 Jan. 1916. NYSP, 26 November 1927. We still lack a historical study of Christianity in the Chinese community in Singapore, though the above study of Song is full of scattered information. See also a pioneering treatment by Leung Yuan Sang, ‘Zongjiao yu geming: xinjiapo huaren jidutu dui geming yuntong zhi fanying’ (Religion and Revolution: the Response of the Chinese Christians in Singapore to the Revolutionary Movement), a paper presented at the Conference on the Nanyang Chinese and the 1911 Revolution, Taipei, February 1986.

24 Xinjiapo qiongzhou tianhougong qiongzhou huiguan dasha luocheng jinian tekan, 65.

25 An early example of huiguan educational service was the Chong Boon School in the Thian Hock Keng in the mid 19th century. After 1900, important Chinese schools directly funded and/or managed by the bang centres were the Yingxin and Khee Fatt of the Hakkas, the Yeung Ching of the Cantonese, the Tuan Meng of the Teochews, the Tao Nan of the Hokkiens and the Yoke Eng of the Hainanese. Yong Ching-fatt Zhanqian xinghua shehui, 19 and his ‘Daonan xuexiao zhi chuangban yu fazhan’ (The Founding and Development of the Tao Nan School), SCJP, 28 June 1982. On the Chinese High School, see Xinjiapo nanyang huaqiao zhongxue chuangxiao liushiwu Zhounian jinian li quangqian xiansheng tongxiang jiemu jinian tekan (Souvenir Magazine on the Unveiling Ceremony of the Bust of the Late Datuk Lee Kong Chian in Commemoration of the 65th Anniversary of the Chinese High School) (Singapore, 19841985).

26 For individual examples, see the following: NYSP, 27 February 1935, 4 June 1935, 25 February 1937, 15 December 1938, 4 March 1939; NA Nam Soon Wui Kuan Minutes of Meetings 14 May and 14 June 1941.

27 I relied mainly on the Lat Pau and the extremely well-documented study of Ching-hwang, Yen, The Overseas Chinese and the 1911 Revolution with Particular Reference to Malaya and Singapore (Kuala Lumpur, 1976). A similar conclusion can be deduced from negative evidence. Had there been an active participation on the part of any huiguan, it would have been eagerly publicized after 1911.

28 Existing studies on these patriotic movements usually focus on the role of the Kuomintang agents and local Communists. For example, Akashi, Y., ‘The Nanyang Chinese Anti-Japanese and Boycott Movement 1908–1928], Journal of the South Seas Society 23 (1968), 6996 and his The Nanyang Chinese Anti-Japanese National Salvation Movement 1937–41 (Kansas, 1970). See also the following work of Leong, Stephen, ‘Sources, Agencies and Manifestations of Overseas Chinese Nationalism 1937–1941], Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 1976;The KMT-CCP United Front in Malaya during the National Salvation Period 1937–41’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 8 (1977), 3147 and ‘The Malayan Overseas Chinese and the Sino-Japanese War 1937–1941’, ibid. 10 (1979), 293–320. Only in an early article by Pang Wing Seng and the more recent work of Yong Ching-fatt on Tan Kah Kee do we have a glimpse of the significant part played by the Chinese huiguan. Pang, ‘The Double-Seventh Incident 1937: Singapore Chinese Response to the Outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War’, ibid. 4 (1973), 269–99 and Yong, , Tan Kah-kee: The Making of an Overseas Chinese Legend (Singapore, 1987), 181–8, 201–24.

29 On the organizational structure of both campaigns, see NYSP, 18 May, 6 June and 20 August 1928 as well as 16 and 18 August 1937. Note also my discussion in ‘Huiguan—Regional Institutions’, 146–8, 172–4.

30 NYSP, 17 May 1926, 15 July 1926, 5 February. 1929, 15–17 May 1929. For a background discussion on the contributions of the overseas Hokkiens to social and economic development in Fujian, see Lin, Jinzhi and Zhuang, Weiji (eds), Jindai huaqiao touzi guonei qiyeshi ziliao xuanji (fujian juan) (A History of Overseas Chinese Investment in China: Selected Materials on Fujian) (Fuzhou, 1985), 266–73.

31 Ng, ‘Huiguan—Regional Institutions’, 180–91.

32 NYSP, 4 Februry 1929.

33 On the Teochews, see Xinjiapo chaozhou bayi huiguan jinxi jinian kan (Singapore Teochew Poiti-Ip Huay Kuan's Golden Anniversary Souvenir Publication) (Singapore, 1980), 154. NA Ngee Ann Kongsi Rules of the Association 1933, 17–22. NYSP, 7 January 1928. On the Hokkiens, see NYSP, 18 June 1927, 11 July 1927, 22 July 1927, 30 January 1929, 4 February 1929, 6 March 1929, as well as the account of Yong Chingfatt, Tan kah-kee, 135–40.

34 NA Ngee Ann Kongsi Rules of the Association, and Membership Register. Xinjiapo chaozhou bayi huiguan jinxi jinian kan, 298. Hoe, Tan Too, ‘The Chinese Associations in Singapore: A Case Study of Ngee Ann Kongsi and Teochew Point-Ip Huay Kuan’, B.S.S. Honours thesis, National University of Singapore, 1984, 25–8, 40–2.

35 Xinjiapo fujian huiguan gaizuhou diyijie yian ji zhangmu baogao (Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Minutes of Meetings and Account Report, 19291930). NYSP, 6 March 1929.

36 I am aware of some interesting studies pertaining to the perceived decline of the traditional social organizations as a result of ‘modernizing’ current in the post-Second World War era. Examples from Singapore scholarship are Cheng Lim-keak, Social Change and the Chinese;Tan, Thomas, ‘Political Modernization and the Traditional Chinese Voluntary Associations: A Singapore Case Study’, Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science 13, 2 (1985), 6779, and ‘Voluntary Associations as a Model of Social Change’ ibid. 14, 2 (1986), 68–84. For a North American example, see Chia-ling, Kuo, Social and Political Change in New York's Chinatown: The Role of Voluntary Associations (New York, 1977). My analytical focus is on the more positive side of organizational growth.

37 NA Tung Ann District Guild Minutes of Meetings 9 April 1929. NYSP, 2 April 1929, 9 July 1929 and 17 July 1929. Lin Jinzhi and Zhuang Weiji (eds), Jindai huaqiao touzi, 324–7.

38 Malaixiya chaozhou gonghui lianhehui di ershijiu zhounian jinian tekan, 38. Xinjiapo chaozhou bayi huiguan jinxi jinian kan, 229. NYSP, 21 August 1935, 27 March 1936, 1 April 1936, 1 July 1936, 17 August 1936 and 21 November 1936. Malaixiya xinjiapo qiongzhou huiguan lianhehui sishi zhounian jinian tekan, 10. NYSP, 30 August 1934, 19 January 1935, 28 July 1935, 26 June 1936, 4 February 1937.

39 Cf. Ching-fatt, Yong, ‘Leadership and Power in the Chinese Community of Singapore during the 1930s’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 8 (1977), 195209.

40 This is a very common explanation for the orgin and proliferation of Chinese organizations in pre-Pacific War North America, though in some literature the theme of institutional racism has been unduly emphasized. Compare, for instance, the general historical narratives in Boji, Liu, Meiguo huaqiao yishi (An Anecdotal History of the Chinese in the United States of America) (Taipei, 1984), 265304, and Lee, David, Jianada huaqiao shi (A History of Chinese in Canada) (Taipei, 1967), 176–94, with the one-sided treatment of Li, Peter, The Chinese in Canada (Toronto, 1988), 71–9.

41 Willmott, Cf. W., The Political Structure of the Chinese Community in Cambodia (New York, 1970).

42 There is no in-depth study on the government's policies towards the huiguan in the 19th century. Nevertheless, the following references are generally useful: Thio, E., ‘The Singapore Chinese Protectorate: Events and Conditions Leading to its Establishment 1823–77’, Journal of the South Seas Society (1960), 4080.Yoong, Ng Siew, ‘The Chinese Protectorate in Singapore’, Journal of Southeast Asian History 2 (1961), 89116.Jackson, R. N., Pickering: Protector of Chinese (Kuala Lumpur, 1965).

43 Annual Report 1922, Secretary for Chinese Affairs, 20. For the involvement of the huiguan in settling business and family disputes referred to them by the officials, see NA Ann Kway Association Minutes of Meetings 3 November 1930, 16 November 1932, 21 February 1933.

44 Annual Report 1925, Secretary for Chinese Affairs, 41, and also various issues of NYSP from September to November 1925. The Chinese associations were also asked to organize community celebrations during festivals and visits of dignitaries from England. Xinjiapo zhonghua zongshanghui qishiwu zhounian jinian tekan, 6782, passim.

45 On the fortune, or rather misfortune, of the Kuomintang in British Malaya, see the following: Ching-fatt, Yong and McKenna, R. B., ‘The Kuomintang Movement in Malaya and Singapore 1912–1925’ and ‘The Kuomintang Movement in Malaya and Singapore 1925–1930’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 12 (1981), 118132, and 15 (1984, 91107;Hung-ting, Ku, Kuomintang's Mass Movement and the Kreta Ayer Incident in Malaya 1927 (Singapore, 1976). The history of the communist movement in pre-war Malaya has received much less attention than the insurgency period after the war. Regarding published studies, we still have to rely on the dated accounts of Hanrahan, G., The Communist Struggle in Malaya (New York, 1954; reprinted 1971), Pye, Lucian, Guerrilla Communism in Malaya: Its Social and Political Meanings (New Jersey, 1956), and McLane, Charles, Soviet Strategies in Southeast Asia: An Exploration of Eastern Policy Under Lenin and Stalin (New Jersey, 1966). Notice the careful study of Wah, Yeo Kim, ‘The Communist Challenge in the Malayan Labour Scene, Sept. 1936–Mar.1937’, Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 49 (1976), 3679. Stephen Leong's discussion on both political parties in his dissertation are also very informed. Leong, ‘Sources, Agencies and Manifestations’. On primary materials, see particularly the Monthly Review of Chinese Affairs furnished by the Secretary for Chinese Affairs between October. 1930 and August. 1938, which are in the British Government Archives CO 273 series.

46 Freedman, ‘Immigrants and Associations’.

47 For a brief debate on the validity of Freedman's proposition in the Chinese Canadian context, see Wickberg, E., ‘Some Problems in Chinese Organizational Development in Canada, 1923–1937’, and Baureiss's, G., ‘Critique Chinese Organizational Development—A Comment’, Canadian Ethnic Studies 11 (1979), 8898 and 12 (1980), 124–30.

48 The total Chinese population increased from about 160,000 in 1901 to 600,000 in 1941, and the relative distribution of the various sub-ethnic groups remained fairly constant. Hock, Saw Swee, Singapore Population, 57, and Nanyang nianjian (Nanyang Yearbook) (Singapore 1940), 45.

49 See Chinben, , ‘Feilubin huaren wenhua de chixu’ (Persistence and Preservation of Chinese Culture in the Philippines), Bulletin of the Institute of Ethnology Academia Sinica 42 (1976), 119206. For years the late Professor See has advocated the idea that traditional Chinese orgizations proliferated in the post-war Philippaines because there were more people aspiring to leadership status and influence. In our case a systematic study of Chinese huiguan leadership requires a separate book-length treatment. For biographical data in general, the huiguan publications are a very useful source of information. So far the work of local Chinese scholars has focused on the elites in the 19th century. See Lim How Seng, shile guji, Lim, and Lim, Kua Bok, Xinhua lishi yu renwu yanjiu (A History of the Chinese in Singapore and Biographical Studies) (Singapore, 1986). An exception is of course Yong Ching-fatt, now in Australia. Both his pioneering Zhanqian xinghua shehui and his biography of Tan Kah Kee have provided insights on some of the personalities and relevant issues. On the most notable Chinese leader, Tan Kah Kee, notice the publication industry on his career furnished by the mainland scholars. For example, Bisheng, Chen and Guozhen, Yang, Chen Jiageng zhuan.(A Biography of Tan Kah Kee) (Fuzhou, 1981). Across the Taiwan Straits, there are also some useful biographical compilations. A recent one is published by the Zonghui, Huaqiao Xiehui, Huaqiao mingren zhuan (Biographies of notable overseas Chinese) (Taipei, 1984).

50 Partisan accounts such as the autobiography of Tan Kah Kee are an excellent source of information on these conflicts. Elsewhere I have attempted to put this issue and the details from Singapore in historical perspective. Ng, ‘Huiguan—Regional Institutions’. See particularly ch. 7, ‘The Disharmony of the Bang Society’, in which I have examined systematically the personal rivalry between Tan Kah Kee and the Hakka magnate Aw Boon Haw, and its escalation into huiguan competition and Hokkien-Hakka animosity.

51 Fewsmith, , Party, State and Local Elites in Republican China: Merchant Organizations and Politics in Shanghai, 1890–1930 (Honolulu, 1985), 6.

52 See, for example, the historical account of Macgowan, D. J., ‘Chinese Guilds or Chambers of Commerce and Trade Unions’, Journal of the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 21 (1886), 133–92;Morse, H. B., The Gilds of China, with an Account of the Gild Merchant or Co-hong of Canton (London, 1909);Burgess, J., The Guilds of Peking (New York, 1928);Hansheng, Quan, Zhongguo hanghui zhidushi (A History of the Chinese Guild System) (Shanghai, 1935; reper. Taipei, 1978); and Balazs, E., Chinese Civilization and Bureaucracy: Variations on a Theme (New Haven, 1964), esp. 33, 41–4.

53 I am referring particularly to the work of Rowe, Hankow: Commerce and Society, Hankow: Conflict and Community, and most recently The Public Sphere in Modern China’, Modern China 16, 3 (1990), 309–29. See also Mann, Susan, Local Merchants and the Chinese Bureaucracy 1750 to 1950 (Stanford, 1987), especially her ideas on merchant liturgies, and the built-in tensions and complications in any form of tax brokerage;Rankin, Mary, Elite Activism and Political Transformation in China: Zhejiang Province, 1865–1911 (Stanford, 1986); and Strand, David, Rickshaw Beijing: City People and Politics in the 1920s (Berkeley, 1989).

54 This theme is central to both volumes of his study but note particularly Hankow: Commerce and Society, 213–51, 276–20.

55 See, for example, the work of Jones, Susan Mann, Rowe, William and a recent review by Liu, K. C., ‘Chinese Merchant Guilds: An Historical Inquiry’, Pacific Historical Review 57.1 (1988), 123. Primary materials such as inscription data on the Chinese huiguan or the decennial reports (1882–1891, 1892–1901) of the Inspectorate General of Customs in Shanghai give the same impression. Some notable published collections of inscriptions materials are; Jiangsu Provincial Museum (comp.), Jiangsu sheng mingqing yilai beike ziliao xuanzhi (A Collection of Ming, Qing and Twentieth Century Stone Inscriptions from Jiangsu Province),(Jiangsu, 1959);Noboru, Niida, Pekin kosho girudo shiryoshu (Resource Materialis on Industrial and Commercial Guilds of Beijing) 6 vols (Tokyo, 19751983);Li, Hua (ed.), Mingqing yilai beijing gongshang huiguan beike xuanbian (Selected Stele Inscription from Commercial and Handicraft Guilds in Beijing since the Ming and Qing) (Beijing, 1980); Shanghai Museum (comp.), Shanghai beike ziliao xuanzhi (A Selected Collection of Shanghai Inscriptions) (Shanghai, 1980); and Suzhou History Museum, Departments of History, Jiangsu Normal College and Nanjing University (comp.), Mingqing suzhou gongshangye beike (A Collection of Inscriptions of Suzhou Guilds in the Ming and Qing Periods) (Jiangsu, 1981)

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