Siam as Chinese Utopia

Overseas Chinese, Colonialism, and Race in the 17th-Century Chinese Novel The Sequel to the Water Margin

  • Yuanfei Wang University of Southern California, Los Angeles


This article considers how Siam became the locus of utopian imagination for the Chinese cultural elite residing in China and overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia in the 17th century. The settlement of overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia and the kingdom of Ayutthaya proffered sources of imagination for Chen Chen (1615–1670) to compose the novel The Sequel to the Water Margin (Shuihu houzhuan). He channeled ideas and ideals on free trade, refuge, colonialism, and Han Chinese racialism into a story on Chinese pirates’ conquest of Siam. The emergence of such utopian imagination was bound up with late Ming ideals of passion, love, and self-invention and the 17th-century Chinese discourse of oceans and pirates.


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