Mingxiang people go to Nanyang: the past of Chinese Saigon

  ”This city is born for love, and you are born for my soul.” Duras’ “The Lover” describes the former Saigon and now Ho Chi Minh City. Ho Chi Minh City is not only an “Oriental Paris” suitable for dating, but also a hot spot for Chinese to go south for gold.
  The Mekong River traverses the Indo-China Peninsula, carrying a huge amount of silt and silt at its estuary, forming the vast and fertile Mekong Delta. Located in the northeastern part of this delta, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam.
  In April 2022, housing prices in Ho Chi Minh City reached an all-time high in Vietnam in nearly 10 years. Cheung Kong, the real estate flagship of Li Ka-shing, known as the global real estate vane, met with Ho Chi Minh City Mayor Phan Van Mai, together with Japan’s ORIX Group, and through Vietnam’s leading local company Wan Sheng Fa Group, to discuss investment in the city.
  It has a history of three or four hundred years for the Chinese to cultivate and become rich in Ho Chi Minh City.
  Ho Chi Minh City does not have a thousand-year-old “Northern Period” like northern Vietnam. It once belonged to Cambodia’s territory for a long time and was deeply influenced by Indian culture. The Khmers in Cambodia call this place “Bornogo”, which means “Royal Forest”. It was not until the 16th and 17th centuries that the “Southward Progress” movement started by the Nguyen regime in Vietnam destroyed Champa and finally took the land in the area of ​​Ho Chi Minh City, which originally belonged to Cambodia. In the process of this conquest, there are many Chinese figures.
Intensive cultivation opens up prosperity

  In the history of Chinese immigration, the late Ming and early Qing dynasties are definitely a milestone, laying the foundation for the status of the Chinese in Southeast Asia today. When the Ming and Qing Dynasties were changing, because the rulers of the Qing Dynasty forcibly implemented policies such as shaving their hair and changing their clothes, many Ming Dynasty relics and people “due to the shame of foreigners, and they led the south to cross, especially those who came to Vietnam.”
  At that time, Vietnam was divided, and the north and south were mainly controlled by the Zheng clan and the Nguyen clan. Because its territory is connected with the landscapes of the Qing Dynasty, the Zheng clan is very strict in accepting the remnants of the remnants of the north, because of its territorial connection with the mountains and rivers of the Qing Dynasty. Adopt a take-and-use policy.
  These people made great contributions to Vietnam’s annexation of the Mekong Delta.
  In the summer of 1679, the port of Tuoying, not far from Hue, the political center of southern Vietnam, welcomed Yang Yandi and Chen Shangchuan, the remaining generals of the Ming Dynasty, as well as more than 3,000 family members and more than 50 warships.
  Yang Yandi, Chen Shangchuan and others told the Nguyen regime: “Ming Zuo is over, and he refuses to serve the Qing Dynasty. He came to the south to surrender and is willing to be his servants.” Regarding the surrender of Yang Yandi, a Chinese armed force and his family, the Nguyen regime After much deliberation, I came up with an approach that has the best of both worlds.
  Vietnam has long coveted the Mekong Delta, where Ho Chi Minh City is located. As early as the early 17th century, the Nguyen regime began to immigrate to Ho Chi Minh City. In order to further control the local area, Nguyen Lord Nguyen Phuc Nguyen married his daughter to the King of Cambodia, King Ji Zheta II as queen.

  The Khmers in Cambodia call this place “Bornogo”, which means “Royal Forest”.

Ming Dynasty general Yang Yandi

  King Ji Zheta II reciprocated, agreeing to the legal residence of Vietnamese immigrants in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam’s continued immigration rights, and allowed officials of the Nguyen regime to set up local points to collect taxes from Vietnamese farmers. This behavior is very in line with Vietnam’s practice of encroaching on the territory of other countries during the southward movement: using its own country’s refugees to infiltrate other people’s territories, and when the number of people is enough, they will establish colonies, and finally find opportunities to occupy and annex them.
  ”As commissioned to open up the land and expand the land to serve”, at this time, the Nguyen regime put the idea of ​​encroaching on the land in the Ho Chi Minh City area, hitting Yang Yandi, Chen Shangchuan and other Chinese people, hoping to arrange these Chinese people there to act as Vietnam’s encroachment on this place. Pioneer.
  When Yang Yandi and Chen Shangchuan, the Chinese, set foot on this land, it was mostly swampy forests. After they arrived, they learned from the experience of their home country and created a “layered planting method” suitable for the local conditions: rice and fish farming on the lowest layer; upland rice and cassava on the upper layer; sugarcane and mango on the third layer; Coconut; betel nut on the top layer.
  Under the intensive cultivation of Chinese farmers, the unit yield of local rice has risen to the highest record at that time. In addition, the French missionary Poixer once mentioned: “The Chinese do business locally. They fish, dig bird’s nests, sea cucumbers, and salted fish on the islands adjacent to the coast, and sell them to China and other countries. Siam.”
  In 1698, the Nguyen regime removed the rubbish and killed the donkey, established Jiading Prefecture, and officially incorporated the Ho Chi Minh City area into the territory of Vietnam. Since then, the power of the Chinese in the local area has also been relatively restricted.

Bi Van Street, Ho Chi Minh City, a restaurant full of Chinese elements

  Those Chinese descendants who moved south in the late Ming Dynasty officially had a definite identity and were called “Ming Township People”.

  At this time, after 20 years of Chinese management, the local area has long since developed from a barren land to a prosperous place that has begun to take shape. After more than 100 years of development, it has become a port of business travel and a prosperous economy. Merchant ships from China, Japan and the West gather here, and it has become the most prosperous metropolis in southern Vietnam.
  In 1862, the French colonial authorities decided to abolish the name “Jiading” and use the well-known “chai stick”, which was translated as “sai gong” by the Chinese.
Mingxiang people’s inheritance

  The blue thread on the road, the wind and the rain. It has been more than 300 years since Yang Yandi and Chen Shangchuan set foot on the land of Ho Chi Minh City in 1679. Walking on the streets and alleys of Ho Chi Minh City today, we can still feel the Chinese charm they bring.
  Many local streets are still named after Chinese sages, such as “Confucius Street”, “Laozi Street” and “Mencius Street”. In the 1960s, Chinese Taiwanese poets such as Xiu Tao and Luo Fu lived in Saigon. They wrote a lot of works about the local Chinese customs and culture, and witnessed the prosperity of Chinese culture in the local area.
  In May 2016, the then U.S. President Barack Obama, who was on a state visit to Vietnam, made a special trip to visit the Phu Hoi Temple in Ho Chi Minh City, which is dedicated to the Jade Emperor from China. The president of a country can take time out of his busy schedule to visit a Chinese temple, which shows the importance of the Chinese in the history and culture of Ho Chi Minh City.

  Today, the fifth and sixth districts of Ho Chi Minh City are collectively called Embankment, which is also the largest Chinatown in Vietnam. Shops, guild halls, and ancestral halls with various Chinese signs are scattered all over the local streets and alleys. Cantonese was once the most popular language in the area.
  There is a national historic site in Vietnam – Mingxiang Jiashengtang, also known as Mingxiang People’s Guild Hall. This hall was built in 1789. It is not only covered with plaques such as “Huabao Relics”, “Mingxiang Guild Hall” and “Mingxiang Society”, but also dedicated to Guan Yu, Chen Shangchuan, Zheng Huaide and others.
  Behind the words “Mingxiang” on the plaque, there is the hardship and helplessness of Chinese living in foreign countries. Around 1698, in order to better control and manage the Chinese groups led by Yang Yandi and Chen Shangchuan and their descendants, the Nguyen regime ordered them to “establish the Minh Heung Society for those who live in Fan Townships, and all of them should be registered as households”.

A Chinese temple in Ho Chi Minh City

  Decades later, in 1826, the Vietnamese rulers changed the “Ming Xiangshe” to “Ming Township”, which means “Ming people’s hometown” or “Ming people’s village”. At this point, those descendants of Chinese who moved south in the late Ming Dynasty officially had a clear identity, called “Ming Township People”.
Innovation returns

  Due to some irresistible historical factors, there was a large-scale loss of Chinese in Ho Chi Minh City in the 1970s and 1980s. But now the Chinese district in Ho Chi Minh City is still the largest Chinese district in Vietnam and one of the largest Chinese districts in the world.
  The Chinese Quarter in Ho Chi Minh City is different from the Western “Chinatown”. Chinatowns in the West are often only a few blocks long. During the Nanyue period, Saigon, which had 11 counties at that time, had more than 6 counties with Chinese gathering areas.
  According to relevant statistics, when Vietnam was reunified in 1975, the population of Ho Chi Minh City was over 3 million, of which 1.5 million were Chinese.
  After decades of changes in the times, the population of Ho Chi Minh City has grown from more than 3 million at the beginning to more than 10 million today; but the Chinese population has not increased but decreased, leaving only 50,000 or 600,000, which accounted for the proportion of the population from the past. half, now 8.5%. Although the population is only 8.5%, the Chinese economy still accounts for 30% of the city’s total economy.
  In 1986, Vietnam implemented “reform and opening up”, and in order to attract the Chinese elites who left and the return of Chinese capital, many preferential policies were formulated. Many Chinese capital has also become active in Vietnam again.
  In 2017, when Jack Ma visited Vietnam, he was warmly welcomed by all walks of life in Vietnam. Vietnam’s then-Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc praised Ali as “not only the pride of China, but also the power of Asia”. More than 3,000 Vietnamese college students at the Vietnam National Convention Center enthusiastically listened to the speech of the idol Jack Ma, and some even shouted “I love Jack Ma” at the meeting.
  According to relevant data, Chinese e-commerce giants such as Alibaba and JD.com, as the big players behind the scenes, have made heavy investments in the emerging e-commerce industry in Vietnam.
  At present, more than 2,000 mainland Chinese companies have invested in Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding provinces, accounting for more than 60% of China’s total investment in Vietnam. Many high-rise buildings in Ho Chi Minh City were built by Chinese infrastructure companies. Among them, Shunqiao Plaza on the embankment is a typical project.
  At the same time, 60,000 Chinese and Taiwanese businessmen have invested in the catering industry, daily necessities production, handicrafts and other industries in Ho Chi Minh City. The investment of Chinese Hong Kong businessmen focuses on office buildings and hotels – almost every floor of these office buildings has Chinese enterprises settled.
  The song “Going to the South Ocean” sings like this: “The white cloud asked me, where are we going? My heart is still leaning on my mother’s side. The sea breeze asked me, where did it come from? My soul is still wandering on the sea. Go to the South Sea, go to the South Sea… “They wandered to Saigon, and they built Saigon, which is an indispensable and important witness to the prosperity and development of this place.