China as a geopolitical entity is of course a central concern of IECS’s strategy to develop knowledge and research about it. Yet if we move the focus from China as a geopolitical entity to the Chinese as a people and to the cultural values shared by various communities beyond mainland China, a more complex and richer image emerges, which encompasses a multitude of communities and societies imbued with a common culture and writing system.
For centuries, the Chinese have migrated throughout Asia, then, starting with the nineteenth century, to many parts of the world. This is a process that continues to this day, which resulted in the formation of strong Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, then in the United States, and more recently in Europe or Africa. Historical events have also contributed to reshaping the contours of Chinese societies, with the emergence of separate entities such as Singapore or Taiwan.
IECS does not make any judgment and does not take sides on issues of names and status of Chinese communities and societies outside of China proper. Its position is that there is a tangible historical reality that requires careful analysis and understanding, which can only be done through critical academic research. IECS means to support such research and facilitate mutual dialog and comprehension.