Vietnamese Refugees in Hong Kong

Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong, courtesy of http://www.vietnameseboatpeople.hk

Over 213,000 Vietnamese refugees sought refuge in Hong Kong during the years 1975 – 2000.

Several historians have examined the internment and legal status of ‘sur place’ Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong, a place of first asylum and transit to the west during the 1980s. Much of the literature on this topic was written in the 80s. While Chan and Loveridge write about the psychological trauma endured by ‘in-transit’ refugees held in camps and transit centres, Tsoi, Yu and Lieh-Mak interviewed refugee children in Hong Kong to better understand the impact of violence on apprehension and fear. Bousquet compares the state of limbo endured by the refugees as ‘that of the prisoner of war who waits out an unchosen and uncertain present’. 

More recently, Carina Hoang, a Vietnamese refugee who arrived in Hong Kong in the 1970s after the fall of Saigon, launched a comprehensive website on the topic which can be found here. The site is part of her PhD research at Curtin University and includes photographs, oral histories with refugees and those ‘on the other side of the fence’ as well as art work created by refugees in camp. I was privileged to see Carina speak in Hong Kong at our oral history meeting a few years ago, and look forward to reading her thesis when published.