chapter  6
13 Pages

The significance of the overseas Chinese in East Asia

ByGordon C. K. Cheung

Very often, those who have studied overseas Chinese and Chinese business activities in Southeast Asia have heard a legend, which precisely characterizes the ideas, if not myths, behind overseas Chinese business networks and the peculiar political culture in Southeast Asia. The legend begins with a backdrop of the civil war of Indonesia in 1965-6, when Sukarno, then president of Indonesia, chased Suharto (a rebel military leader) in Jakarta. A Chinese grocery-store owner risked his life by saving Suharto in his store. After the end of the civil war, Suharto eventually became the new president. As a result, the Chinese grocery-store owner who had saved the new president’s life became the richest Chinese businessman in Indonesia. The name of the grocerystore owner was Liem Sioe Liong,2 who later established the Salim Group, which became the largest ethnic Chinese corporation in Indonesia.