Golden Dragon and Purple Phoenix: The Chinese and Their Multi-ethnic Descendants in Southeast Asia introduces the rarely discussed records of Chinese descendants living in Southeast Asian countries. This book highlights their influences on the communities they lived in and challenges they overcame. Written by Lee Khoon Choy, this book is based on his personal experiences and insights of more than three decades working as a Singaporean journalist and politician, visiting every country in Southeast Asia. 

The first chapter begins with the stories of lokjins (洛真) or the descendants of Chinese-Thai. Chinese migration to Thailand began during the Northern Sung dynasty. The Chinese immigrants were able to quickly assimilate with the Thais for two reasons: 1) Both the Thais and Chinese immigrants were Buddhists, and 2) the Thais welcomed Chinese as citizens, giving them equal rights. Many lokjins played important roles politically (e.g., many became Thai prime ministers). Influences of Chinese culture were also apparent. In the Thai language, many words originated from the Teochiu dialect. The grand palace of King Rama I has Chinese stone lions placed at the entrance as well as Chinese dragons and phoenixes carved at the roofing. Inspired by Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三国演义), Thai authors made a novel based on this classic Chinese literature. 

Chapter two tells about Chinese migration to the Philippines which—similar to Thailand—also began as early as the Sung dynasty before the Spanish came. The Chinese men married the Filipinas, and their children were referred to as the mestizos. When the Spaniards came, the mestizos endured ill treatment and received no support from their homeland. As a result, many of them decided to assimilate into Spanish culture. Despite all the challenges, however, a number of mestizos rose to become prominent political figures, such as Maria Corazon “Cory” Sumulong Cojuangco Aquino who was the first woman president of the Philippines. 

Chapter three introduced the history of the peranakans, or offspring of Chinese and Indonesian. Though rarely mentioned in historical records, Zheng He (郑和), a Muslim explorer living in the Ming dynasty, contributed to the spread of Islam in Indonesia and the increase of Chinese-Indonesian intermarriages. Years later, the Dutch came and separated the people in Indonesia based on their races, which was instrumental in the decline of Chinese-Indonesian intermarriages. Moreover, after Indonesia gained independence, the Chinese were banned from practicing their language and culture, causing many Chinese who were born after the mid-20th century to be unable to speak their home language. Yet, in 2000 Gus Dur, who has Chinese ancestry, became the fourth president of Indonesia and restored the rights of Chinese diaspora and peranakans to express their cultures. Indeed, the Chinese influence spreads beyond political aspects; for example, Chinese medicines are generally considered helpful to cure different illnesses. The origin of the infamous wayang kulit was actually from the Fujianese puppet show, potehi (布袋戏).

Moving on to the chapter about Myanmar, we read the stories of tayoke kabya, the descendants of Chinese-Burmese. Intermarriages began in the Sung, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The tayoke kabya adopted the culture of the Burmese people. Some influences of Chinese culture could be seen, for example, in the Buddhist temples and Buddha images on Pagan’s building. The Burmese language has many words originating from the Chinese language (e.g., chopsticks, tofu, ship). Moreover, Burmese people tend to like the number eight, believing in Chinese superstitions. 

In Cambodia, Chinese-Cambodian intermarriages were common until the early 1900s and decreased by the 1920s when more Chinese women came to the country. Chinese influence could be seen in areas including culture, language, architecture, and politics. Chinese artists were involved in sculpting some parts of the Angkor Wat, the well-known Buddhist temple. Chinese words for common objects such as food and clothing were incorporated in the local Cambodian language. Moreover, the chapter discusses the conditions of Chinese after Cambodian Independence, including under the eras of Lon Nol, Khmer Rouge, and Pol Pot. 

The history of Chinese migration to Vietnam began with the Three Kingdoms period (三国时代) when Zhu Geliang’s (诸葛亮) army went to Vietnam. In the beginning of the migration, the Chinese deeply influenced the Vietnamese with Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. Yet, the condition reversed when Vietnam gained their independence. Throughout history, Vietnam and China have contributed to each other; for example, Nguyen Banh from Vietnam helped with the building of the Forbidden City in 1445, while Ly Cong Uan, who had Fujianese ancestry, became the founder of the Ly dynasty of Vietnam. 

Unlike the other Southeast Asian countries, Chinese-Laotian intermarriages were less common. Due to its landlocked location, Chinese migration to Laos has been relatively low compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, and the immigrants mainly came from neighboring regions, Yunnan and Guangxi. The chapter included discussions on several Laotian political figures, the impact of Communism on Laos, as well as the Sino-Laos or China and Laos relations throughout history. 

Chapter eight shares the story of peranakans or Chinese-Malaysians where the male peranakans are called “Babas” and the female “Nyonyas.” Chinese-Malaysian intermarriages began during the Sri Vijaya (三佛齐) Buddhist era and further increased after Zheng He, the Muslim Chinese explorer, arrived in Malacca. Though such intermarriages in modern-day Malaysia have decreased, the peranakans have developed their unique cultures that include celebrating Chinese festivals, such as Zhong Wu Jie (中午节) where they make Baba-style rice dumplings called nyonya chang (娘惹糯) and Chinese New Year where they give angpows (红包) to children. The author also shared his personal story growing up in a Baba family. Despite living in a family that did not speak Chinese, he chose to attend a Chinese school. “I had my education in Chung Ling High School (钟灵中学) and developed a better affinity with the Chinese compared to my siblings,” wrote Lee Khoon Choy (426). 

Singapore, the smallest Southeast Asian country, is the only country where the Chinese diaspora are politically dominant. They acknowledge and embrace their unique identity: a mix of Malay and Chinese. One prominent figure discussed in the chapter is Huang Zun Xian (黄遵宪), the first to advocate for the rights of Chinese diaspora. Seeing that many of them could not speak Chinese, he started Chinese schools that helped the migrants embrace their Chinese identity. Efforts by Emperor Guangxu and Dr. Sun Yat-sen also helped promote the spread of Chinese culture, though many Chinese diaspora chose to adopt local cultures and customs. 

The last chapter of the book tells the stories of Chinese descents in Brunei. As in several other Southeast Asian countries, the explorer and admiral Zheng He played an important role in the increase of Chinese-Brunei intermarriages as many Chinese people came with him when he landed in Brunei. A number of leading Chinese figures were discussed, which include Dato Timothy Ong Teck Mong, who received the Most Honourable Order of the Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei, and Dato Lim Jock Seng, the Second Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The book Golden Dragon and Purple Phoenix: The Chinese and Their Multi-ethnic Descendants in Southeast Asia invites readers to learn from history, particularly the lesser-known stories, of the Chinese diaspora living in Southeast Asia. The author revealed the struggles and the beauties of the fusions of cultures, encouraging us to embrace and respect different histories and further develop relationships within and across cultures.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center currently has an internship opportunity (virtual) for bilingual students (Spanish or Chinese) who are interested in using their language skills to help us ensure equity in health. Our students will be exposed to a variety of education and language-related tasks, including translation, interpretation, and education.

Please visit the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website for more information about our work.

Here is the job description.

This is a full-time 12-month position to start July 1, 2021. The position offers a competitive salary along with a comprehensive benefits package that includes PTO, medical, dental, vision, FSA, 401K, etc. Please email the cover letter and resume with Assistant Principal/Dean of Mandarin Program in the subject line to by March 1, 2021. HWIS is an equal opportunity employer and values diversity in the workplace. We actively encourage all qualified applicants regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation to apply.

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For educators with heart & vision

Each new year brings new opportunities, and 2021 is no exception! Are you an educator with heart and vision who is ready to relocate, jump into a new learning environment, and put your teaching skills to good use?

Meet YouCH, a non-profit organization supporting Chinese families and students by helping schools to raise their teaching standards and working with local teachers closely on their professional development. YouCH is working alongside the Minhang school district in Shanghai, China, to hire full-time English teachers for primary and middle schools. If the following fits you, contact us!


  • Native-like English proficiency
  • Passionate about education
  • Minimum 2 years teaching experience
  • Committed to students
  • Adventurous
  • Curious
  • Enthusiastic
  • Inclusive
​Serious applicants can message the Center for Professional Education of Teachers at Be sure to include Teaching in China | YouCH in your subject line.
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Center for Professional Education of Teachers
at Teachers College, Columbia University
525 West 120th Street • New York, NY 10027
212.678.3161  |


Happy New Year!

I hope yours is off to a good start and your families are well.

We have an opening for 8 to 12 hours per week. This is for someone who would like to teach Arts, Crafts, and Chinese Culture classes online for Morningside PlayCare. The children are advanced or intermediate level Mandarin speakers. The goals of classes are to practice listening, speaking, reading Mandarin while doing arts and crafts, playing learning games and being exposed to Chinese culture. Children are ages 5 and 6. There are 4 to 5 children in the class.

Intern will receive coaching and observe experienced teacher, while also having a chance to develop her own lesson plans and practice her classroom management skills during class periods in which she leads the class. Intern will also have an opportunity to develop relationships with children during one-to-one time. Our previous interns have really loved their classes!

Internship starts mid January. This is a great opportunity and successful interns will receive invaluable experience, be able to add us to their list of career experiences and secure recommendations for employment and further studies. Interested graduate or undergraduate students who are native speakers, with majors in early childhood education, bilingual education, TCSOL, art education, music education, or a related field, should send resumes as soon as possible to:

FYI, we will be offering in-person paid teaching opportunities in the fall to our best interns. All successful interns will receive a letter of recommendation upon completion. Please share this with your students.

Thank you.

Gail Foster, Ed.D.

New Graphic Novel Book Groups
Fall 2020-Spring 2021
Visual Texts on Complex East Asian Subjects
We are pleased to announce our new line up of online Book Groups covering rich topics in East Asian History. Join us to read historical and first-person accounts of important events in Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Tibetan history, and learn how to incorporate these texts into your classroom! Participation is free and Professional Development credit is available.
Black Ships: An Illustrated Japanese History - The Americans Arrive
Written by Sean Michael Wilson, Illustrated by Akiko Shimojima
September 9 - October 6, 2020
4 Sessions; 8 PD Hours
Moderator: Karen Kane
In 1853 the arrival of Commodore Perry and four American ships forced Japan to open up to trade. "Black Ships" conveys the personalities of the key figures in the drama: on one side, Commodore Perry and his captains, and on the other, Shogunate officials Abe Masahiro and Hayashi Akira. These events mark the final years of the Edo period, as the feudal Tokugawa shogunate took its last breaths and gave way to the Meiji government.
The Satsuma Rebellion: Illustrated Japanese History - The Last Stand of the Samurai
Written by Sean Michael Wilson, Illustrated by Akiko Shimojima
October 14 - November 3, 2020
4 Sessions; 8 PD Hours
Moderator: Karen Kane
Award-winning authors and illustrators tell the riveting story that changed the face of modern Japan. "The Satsuma Rebellion" portrays the bloody uprising of 1877, when Satsuma rebels, led by the infamous Saigo Takamori, fought enforced modernization by the Meiji government. Their crushing defeat by the imperial army ended their power once and for all and ushered in an era of modern technology and Western military methods.
Banned Book Club
Written by Kim Hun Sook & Ryan Estrada, Illustrated by Ko Hyung-Ju
November 18 - December 22, 2020
5 Sessions; 10 PD Hours
Moderator: Karen Kane
It's 1983 during South Korea's Fifth Republic ― a military regime has entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protesters. In this charged political climate, a freshman named Kim Hyun Sook seeks refuge in the comfort of books and an unusual book club. Hyun Sook soon discovers, in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence. In "Banned Book Club," Hyun Sook shares her dramatic true story of political strife, fear-mongering, the death of democratic institutions, and the relentless rebellion of reading.
Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes
Written by Lun Zhang & Adrien Gombeaud, Illustrated by Ameziane
January 5 - February 9, 2021
5 Sessions; 10 PD Hours
Moderator: Karen Kane
Follow the story of China's infamous, June Fourth Incident - otherwise known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre ― from the first-hand account of a young sociology teacher who witnessed it all.
The 14th Dalai Lama: A Manga Biography
Written and illustrated by Tetsu Saiwai
February 17 - March 16, 2021
4 Sessions; 8 PD Hours
Moderator: Karen Kane
At the age of two, Tenzin Gyatso, child of a peasant family in northeastern Tibet, was recognized as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama ― the manifestation of the Buddha of Compassion. Just fourteen years later, this young man assumed full political power over his nation upon the invasion of Chinese forces.
by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim
April 7 - May 11, 2021
4 Sessions; 8 PD Hours
Moderator: Karen Kane
The term "comfort women" is widely used to refer to the victims of Japanese military sexual slavery. "Grass" is a powerful antiwar graphic novel, telling the life story of a Korean girl named Okseon Lee who was forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War ― a disputed chapter in twentieth-century Asian history. Beginning in Lee’s childhood, "Grass" shows the lead-up to the war from a child’s vulnerable perspective, detailing how one person experienced the Japanese occupation and the widespread suffering it entailed for ordinary Koreans.
More AFE Resources Online!
Many more resources can be found on our website ― including learning modules, background information, and recommended materials on art, history, geography, and more.
Asia for Educators (AFE) is an initiative of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University. AFE receives generous funding for professional development on East Asia from the Freeman Foundation. AFE is a member of The National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA), which is generously funded by the Freeman Foundation as a multi-year initiative to encourage and facilitate teaching and learning about East Asia in elementary and secondary schools nationwide. NCTA is a premier provider of professional development on East Asia. AFE also receives funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
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