Abstract: The China Trade for the Chinese Merchants in Malaya and Singapore during Decolonization, 1945-1965

Jason Lim


This paper looks at how the Chinese merchants in Malaya and Singapore (known collectively as "British Malaya") conducted their trade with China at a time when British Malaya was increasingly decolonized. The Cold War had already started with the end of World War II in 1945 but the communist insurgency (known as the "Malayan Emergency") in British Malaya in 1948 and the proclamation of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 complicated matters further for the merchants. In this paper I intend to look at the China trade from 1945 to 1965 from the point of view of the Chinese merchants in Malaya and Singapore. What were their reactions to the trade embargo by the British and local leaders in Malaya and Singapore? Did the embargo affect the trade and livelihood of the Chinese merchants in British Malaya and if so, how badly were they affected? Did they try to seek redress from the British colonial authorities and the local leaders? Did the Chinese merchants seize any opportunity to try to trade with China on their own?