Penang and the Chinese Diaspora in South East Asia
Chapter 4, Part 18
At the height of the spice trade in the Orient, the Europeans had their eyes fixated on strategic islands along the trade routes, which they eventually colonized. From British Hong Kong and Portuguese Macau at the Pearl River Delta, to Singapore and Penang in the Strait of Malacca, these otherwise small pieces of land experienced rapid economic growth as they were developed into important trading hubs in the region.
Economic growth creates opportunities, and opportunities attract people. Penang, as one of the most thriving colonial outposts in the region, certainly had an irresistible allure that drew merchants and laborers alike to get their share of fortune on the island, or simply to escape poverty at home. The Cantonese, Hokkien and Hakka peoples were among the most eager to leave China for a region once known as Nanyang, the Southern Seas, that is…
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