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A complex family legacy

By Fang Aiqing | China Daily | Updated: 2023-05-01 10:16

Headwear in the shape of a dragon in the west study. FANG AIQING/CHINA DAILY

Apart from frequent contact with overseas relatives to piece together shards of family history, Chen Ye was particularly moved by the gesture of an elderly relative whom he has never met. Based in Malaysia, she is a daughter of one of his great-grandfather's siblings, who, upon hearing about the restoration of the houses, transferred funds to Chen Ye, amid all the inconvenience incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was also an act borne of a long-standing tradition.

For decades, the family members overseas have sent money home to support relatives who remain, usually in the form of qiaopi, a combination of letter and remittance certificate from overseas Chinese emigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially those from Guangdong and Fujian provinces.

Chen Ye notes that one particular grandaunt in Singapore, now in her 90s, has been sending the same sum every Spring Festival for nearly 70 years until recently, when it became too physically difficult for her.

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