Counter-diasporic migration, or the return of diasporic descendants to an ancestral land, has become a noticeable global trend. This chapter troubles linear narratives of emigration and immigration by examining the re-migration of diasporic descendants. It focuses on Chinese diasporic descendants in Malaya, Indonesia, and Vietnam who were compelled to leave due to ethnic persecution between the years 1949 and 1979, a period that coincided with the inauguration of communist rule in China. The Chinese state resettled the refugees in state-owned farms and labeled them as “returnees,” legitimizing its reach toward the diaspora. But the social realities they experienced expose contestations over presumed kinship and co-ethnicity. After 1978 China’s diaspora strategizing shifted from privileging co-ethnicity to encouraging foreign investment and scientific skills transfer to benefit the country’s national development. This discussion foregrounds how citizenship formations in China were intimately connected to the experiences of the Chinese abroad and those who re-migrated to the ancestral land.
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