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Flanking the sea artery connecting the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and virtually linking the Asian mainland with the Indonesian archipelago, the island of Singapore occupies a strategic position in southeastern Asia. Toward its 220 square miles of territory have converged races from all the Orient, but especially the southern Chinese in their ubiquitous quest for commercial opportunities. When Sir Stamford Raffles established a trading post near the Singapore River on February 6, 1819, the island's only inhabitants were a few hundred Malays. Four months later, however, he wrote: "From the number of Chinese already settled, and the peculiar attraction of the place for that industrious race, it may be presumed that they will always form the largest part of the community." Today, some 75 percent of Singapore's million and three-quarters inhabitants are Chinese- the largest urban concentration anywhere of overseas Chinese.
Undisturbed by British colonial authorities in respect to language, schooling and customs, the Singapore Chinese established an exclusive cultural community and readily absorbed new hordes of immigrants over the years. Their ancestral ties and affections have habitually pulled them toward the homeland. Like most Chinese, they adjudge their culture to be of a superior order (especially vis-à-vis the Malay); moreover, since the advent of the Communist régime, they are proud of the great strides Mainland China has made and of its new stature as a world power. During the past three years, the English-educated Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, has made energetic propagandist efforts to create a Malay image and to infuse elements of a Malayan culture; but the majority of Singapore Chinese-those schooled in the Chinese medium, plus the illiterate-have shown little evidence of modifying their basic emotional orientation. Indeed, they receive daily nourishment in that direction from the two main Chinese newspapers (with circulations larger than any others outside the Chinese Mainland), as well as from Radio Peking, whose programs come in more clearly than any other foreign broadcast.