China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This presentation examines ethnic Chinese settlement and community development in the Mekong River Delta of southern Vietnam and Cambodia over the late-seventeenth to eighteenth centuries. Originally a sparsely populated haven for Ming loyalist pirates from Guangdong, much of this hazy frontier zone came under the increasing domination of the Nguyễn lords of Cochinchina. The emergence in the early eighteenth century of Hà Tiên, a semi-autonomous port on the Gulf of Siam ruled by a Sino-Vietnamese clan that paid vassalage to Huế, was one important product of this confluence. Besides serving as a major transshipment point for goods from Southeast Asia and China, the polity became a site of cultural production and exchange, a regional center for intelligence, and a neutral political mediator for the warring polities of Cochinchina, Cambodia, and Siam.