Huang Zhiping discusses his family’s life in Vietnam and their return to China in 1979, fleeing Chinese exclusion in Vietnam.
Huang Zhiping was born in 1963 in rural northern Vietnam, where his father and grandfather had settled, working as Chinese teachers at a Chinese high school. They ensured financial security for the family. There he received his primary and secondary education, until the rise of the “Chinese Exclusion” policy. He believes that the outbreak of Chinese exclusion in Vietnam was due to two factors. First, the deterioration of Sino-Vietnamese relations due to the deterioration of Sino-Soviet relations, which eventually led to Vietnam's full reorientation towards the Soviet Union, and second, the fact that the Chinese had become entrenched economic elites in the country. After the reunification of North and South Vietnam, the Vietcong targeted the Chinese. He notes that Chinese exclusion mainly occurred in the cities, while the rural areas were less affected. His family returned to China in 1979.
Upon their return, they were held at Pingxi for a month, and were later relocated to Fujian, though they had requested to be placed in Guangdong. He was assigned to an overseas Chinese farm in Zhangpu County. Many who returned from Vietnam could not adapt to life in China and tried to flee to Hong Kong and then to Europe and America. Huang also twice with his partners to raise funds to buy a boat to flee to Hong Kong, but were arrested by the marine police in both times and sent for re-education, but many still managed to escape to the refugee camps in Hong Kong, and a few were robbed and killed by pirates.
Interviewer: Chen Yishen
Interviewee: Huang Zhiping
Assess the extent to which returning Chinese youth like Huang had agency in navigating the Cold War in China. How does that compare with their peers in other parts of Asia at the time?