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Qiaopi and Yinxin Correspondence and Remittance Documents from Overseas Chinese

Source: | 2023-11-29 17:21   Click:

Qiaopi, also known as ‘Yinxin’, refers to the remittances, letters, reports, account books and remittance receipts, resulting from communication in the 19th and 20th centuries between the many men who left China’s southeast coast to work overseas and their families and relatives living in Southeastern China. “Qiao” means emigrants and “pi” means letters. Qiaopi are also known as “Yinxin” or “letter with money” in the Wuyi areas in Guangdong.

The remittance money and letters helped maintain connections between the emigrants and family in China. They provide evidence of Chinese international migration history, cross-cultural contact and internationalisation between East and West. They cover a wide range of activities and are a valuable supplementary source to official historical documents.

The Qiaopi point to the women’s experiences and feelings during the migration process. The women who stayed at home shouldered many heavy burdens such as supporting parents, educating children and maintaining the relationship between family members and neighbours. The letters also show the significant position women held as they managed such things as daily income and expenditure, housing construction, marriages and funerals, and loan repayments.

Qiaopi also contributed to changes in the traditional ideas and culture of the people in the Qiaoxiang area and to the transformation of rural society in China. They reflect the slow emergence and embodiment of gender equality and social justice in the Qiaoxiang area in Southeastern China. For example, a Chinese migrant working in the Philippines sent Qiaopi to urge his wife to unbind her feet. In his opinion, the traditional custom of binding feet was incompatible with the ever-changing social fashion of the outside world.

The documentary heritage was inscribed onto the Asia Pacific Memory of the World register in 2012 and on the international register in 2013.





Photo credit: © Fujian Provincial Archives