Organized Panel Session
In the Philippines, unlike in China, the clash between the Kuomintang (KMT) and Chinese communists after World War II was resolved in favor of the former. From the end of Japanese rule in early 1945 to late 1947, Chinese leftists were openly active in the islands, emboldened by their resistance to Japan and the difficulties faced by the Philippine state in reconstituting itself. But by 1948, the majority of Chinese communist leaders had left the country for their homeland or Hong Kong; the few who remained in the former US colony went underground, their organizational and mobilizational capacities severely diminished. Like Taiwan, but absent a territorial dimension, the small Chinese community in the Philippines became a Nationalist stronghold. It remained as such for some years even after Manila recognized Beijing in 1975.
This paper explains how and why the KMT won the Chinese Civil War in the Philippines, focusing on the Chinese left’s simultaneous conflicts with the KMT and Philippine establishment before showing how a collaborative anticommunist relationship coalesced between the latter two factions against the first. More fundamentally, it also articulates the histories of modern China and the Chinese diaspora during a brief period of ideological realignment between the Pacific and Cold Wars. Neither a small-scale, socio-historical facsimile of events in the mainland nor a sui generis phenomena, the struggle for primacy between diasporic nationalists in the Philippines represented instead an integration of the Civil War’s principal dynamics into the politics of the local.