Four years ago, 50-year-old Yang decided to move to Malaysia to spare his son the stress of high school [très compétitif] in China. This catering professional has opened a restaurant in Puchong, a town in the western state of Selangor, with Xi’an specialties on the menu [nord de la Chine] like noodles bian bianbreads stuffed with meat roujiamand cold noodles called liangpi.
His decision paid off. Although the pandemic has not spared his restaurant, Yang and other Chinese restaurateurs are benefiting from Malaysians’ craze for “authentic” contemporary Chinese cuisine.
Malaysia has around 6.7 million people of Chinese descent, which is the second largest ethnic group in the country. [après les Malais, majoritaires parmi les 32,6 millions d’habitants]. But while dishes like Yangzhou fried rice or Hokkien noodles have entered Malaysian cuisine both in homes and on restaurant menus, most Chinese dishes are adapted to local tastes, and sometimes even reinvented. Hokkien noodles, for example, are unlike anything you can taste in the province of Fujian (Hokkien in the local dialect), in southern China.
An ancient migration in Southeast Asia
The history of Chinese cuisine in Malaysia is not very different from that of the Chinese diaspora. After the end of the Second Opium War, in 1860, the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) signed a treaty with Britain, France and Russia, allowing foreign merchants to hire Chinese workers to make them work abroad. In the decades that followed, many Chinese migrated from coastal provinces like Fujian to Southeast Asia. [en particulier vers la Malaisie, en grande partie colonisée par la Grande-Bretagne].
Those who found themselves in Malay
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The site “Sixième Ton” proposes to give the floor “to the new voices of today’s China”. “There are five tones in Mandarin, but we think that to cover Chinese news, we can find other voices, which tell the singular stories of ordinary people”, says the site.
Launched on April 6, 2016, this online magazine is the English-language little brother of Pengpai xinwen, “The paper”. Both publications are aimed at a young, urban audience eager for both reports and articles addressing controversial issues. The other common point is their financing by the Chinese Communist Party.
It’s a bit like “Vox had been purchased by the Chinese Communist Party. The result would look like Sixth Tone”, says the American magazine Foreign Policy. The goal of the English version: to conquer a Western readership, which criticizes other official publications for being a tad watered down. It is a question, indicated at the launch of the editor-in-chief Wei Xing, of“humanize Chinese information” : “If we are dealing with important news, we prefer to do so through individual stories.”
Another challenge, more acrobatic, is the following, recalls Foreign Policy : “How to Attract Western Readers While Staying to the Party Line ?”