Full Text

boat people

Subject History

Place South-Eastern Asia » Vietnam

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


Migrants who fled by sea from Vietnam on a large scale from 1975, when the vietnam war ended and the communist North took over the South. Initially, they were political refugees, connected with the Saigon administration, who feared persecution by the communists. They sailed in unseaworthy, overcrowded boats with inadequate food and water and were the prey of pirates: many, perhaps a third, were lost at sea. Later, the boat people were mainly economic refugees, fleeing from starvation and the government's decision to close down private businesses and transfer many city-dwellers to the countryside. In the late 1970s, when Sino-Vietnamese relations deteriorated and China invaded Vietnam in 1979, boat people were ethnically Chinese from both North and South Vietnam. They arrived in southern Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Hong Kong, some even reaching South Korea, Japan and Australia. They were generally not welcomed. In 1988 Hong Kong and a year later all asean countries started screening to distinguish political refugees from the vast majority of economic migrants, whom they hoped to return to Vietnam. That country, however, did not want them back, as it had taken a large number of Vietnamese refugees from Laos. Many were held in disagreeable holding camps for long periods: the British and Vietnamese governments did not agree until 1992 on the forcible ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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