The Story of Nanyang (南洋故事)

Nanyang is the Chinese term for the region of South-East Asia during the period of massive Chinese emigration starting in the 1640s.

The Story of Nanyang (南洋故事) is a Chinese book written during the Chinese Communist Revolution by the communist activists and printed in 1933 to spread anti-imperialism propaganda. 

Interestingly, it was labelled as children reading material and the author addressed his readers as “little children”. Innocuously titled “The Story of Nanyang”, the book contains 27 short stories on Nanyang. A glance at some of the topics reveals the author’s indignation towards the social and political situations of Nanyang at that time.

The author displayed great displeasure with the colonisation of Nanyang by the Britain and the Dutch. He was critical in his observation of the Malay community as he wrote about their lifestyle, their culture, their living conditions, their entertainment, and philosophy of life. He also admonished the behaviour of the various Chinese dialect groups who refused to unite as one Chinese community. In his conclusion, he believed that Nanyang should belong to the Chinese. He advocated the migration of Chinese to Nanyang to rule the lands.

This is an easy-to-read book, just like a story for “little children”. Yet, readers will find this book intriguing as the real “hidden” message was to promote Chinese reform in Nanyang.


Images of the book are taken from The Story of Nanyang (南洋故事).

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