Originating in the 1820s and used for 150 years thereafter, qiaopi is the name given in Chinese to letters written home by Chinese emigrants to accompany remittances. Their key function was to preserve family ties. Although such correspondence focused principally on the provision of economic support, the qiaopi also touched on cultural, political, educational, and gender themes.

This book therefore seeks to examine the qiaopi from two interconnected perspectives. One views qiaopi from a political and institutional angle, the other from a financial and social angle. Bringing together the extensive research of a group of international scholars, this multi-authored volume sheds light on the larger significance of the qiaopi for modern China. Taking an empirical, evidence-driven approach, the contributors employ a wide range of primary sources in both Chinese and English and relate their findings to scholarship in both the Chinese-speaking world and in non-Chinese interdisciplinary fields. In so doing, this book helps to bridge the gap between Chinese- and English-speaking researchers in the field of qiaopi studies.

As one of the first books in English on the qiaopi trade and its significance, this book will appeal to students and scholars of Chinese history and Chinese migration, as well in Migration Studies and Diaspora Studies more generally.

chapter |4 pages


The qiaopi trade and transnational networks in the Chinese diaspora

chapter 1|28 pages

Entangled loyalties

Qiaopi, Chinese community structures, and the state in Southeast Asia

chapter 4|23 pages

Serving the national interest

The qiaopi industry, the Chinese Post Office, and the transnational practices of the state, 1937–1945

chapter 5|20 pages

The evolution of the qiaopi trade

A case study of the Tianyi firm

chapter 6|14 pages

The operating modes of the qiaopi trade and impact on the qiaopiju

A case study of the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) 1

chapter 7|16 pages

Sex scandals, Gold Mountain Guests’ Wives, and female roles in the Siyi qiaoxiang

A study of the family letters of overseas Chinese in the Republican era

chapter 8|19 pages


The remittance trade and enterprising Chinese Australians, 1850–1916