Past Event

Rethinking "China" and the "Cold War": The Kuomintang, the Philippine Chinese, and Diasporic Anticommunism in the Mid-20th Century

April 20, 2023
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
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Speaker: Chien Wen Kung, Assistant Professor, Department of History, National University of Singapore

Moderator: Eugenia Lean, Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures; Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, Columbia University

Fears of Southeast Asia’s Chinese as conduits for the People's Republic of China defined the Cold War in Southeast Asia. Yet, ironically, the example of the Philippine Chinese shows that the "China" which intervened the most extensively in any Southeast Asian country after 1949 was the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan. Based on the speaker’s book, Diasporic Cold Warriors, this talk explains how one of the smallest overseas Chinese communities in the region became the most ardent diasporic supporters of the ROC in the world from the 1950s to the 1970s. During this period, the Kuomintang-ROC party-state's overseas Chinese networks entrenched themselves in the Philippines with the consent and participation of the Philippine state, giving rise to a dynamic and contingent arrangement of shared, non-territorial sovereignty. Taipei and Manila's intersecting anticommunist projects were, in turn, instrumental to how translocal Chinese forged politically appropriate identities and adapted themselves to the postcolonial Philippines as ethno-ideological subjects.

Speaker's Bio: Chien-Wen Kung is an Assistant Professor of History at the National University of Singapore. Born and educated in Singapore, he received his B.A. from Dartmouth College and Ph.D. in Modern Chinese and International and Global History from Columbia in 2018. His first book, Diasporic Cold Warriors: Nationalist China, Anticommunism, and the Philippine Chinese, 1930s-1970s, was published in 2022 as part of Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. With funding from the Singapore Social Sciences Research Council, he is currently working on a history of cultural and intellectual relations between Singapore and both China and Taiwan during the 1970s and 1980s.

This event is sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and co-sponsored by China and the World Program.


  • To attend this event in-person, please register HERE. Please note that non-CUID holders need to show proof of their primary series and one booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • To attend this event online, please register HERE.

Contact Information

Julie Kwan

[email protected]

Rethinking "China" and the "Cold War": The Kuomintang, the Philippine Chinese, and Diasporic Anticommunism in the Mid-20th Century