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Why Do Chinese Go to Australia

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Yang Qing

Under the Supervision of

Professor Xu Xixiang

School of Foreign Studies

Nantong University

June 2010


Abstract: The early history of Chinese Australians had involved significant immigration from villages of the Pearl River Delta in Southern China. As time went by, more and more Chinese flooded into this beautiful country. In the 2006 Australian Census, 669,890 Australian residents identified themselves as having Chinese ancestry, either alone or with another ancestry. In this paper, I will give you a brief analysis of the history of Chinese Australian and the reasons why so many Chinese immigrant to Australia.

Key words: Chinese Australian; history; analysis; reasons

1 Brief chronology

This part is to analyze the history of Chinese immigrants in Australia. It can be divided into 6 historical periods.

1.1 Earliest arrivals and Indentured labor: 1788 to 1853

From the very beginning of the colony of New South Wales, links with China were established when several ships of the First Fleet, after dropping off their convict load, sailed for Canton to pick up goods for the return to England. The Bigge Report attributed the high level of tea drinking to the existence of an intercourse with China from the foundation of the Colony. That the ships carrying such goods had Chinese crew members is likely to stay at the port of Sydney.

It was the increasing demand for labor after convict transportation ceased in the 1840s that led to much larger numbers of Chinese men arriving as indentured labourers, to work as shepherds and irrigation experts for private landowners and the Australian Agricultural Company. These workers seemingly all came from Fujian via the port then known as Amoy (Xiamen) and some may have been brought involuntarily, as kidnapping or the 'sale of pigs', as it was called, was common. Between 1848 and 1853, over 3,000 Chinese workers on contracts arrived via the Port of Sydney for employment in the NSW (New South Wales) countryside. Resistance to this cheap labor occurred as soon as it arrived, and, like such protests later in the century, was heavily mixed with racism.

1.2 Gold rushes: 1853 to 1877

Large numbers of Chinese people were working on the Victorian goldfields and fewer on the smaller NSW fields in the mid 1850s, when major gold finds in NSW and the passing of more restrictive anti-Chinese legislation in Victoria resulted in thousands of miners moving across the border in 1859. Many more Chinese goldseekers came by ship through Twofold Bay and Sydney and onto the various diggings. The presence of numerous Chinese on the diggings led to anti-Chinese agitation, including violent clashes such as the Lambing Flat riots, the immediate result of which was the passing of an Act in 1861 designed to reduce the number of Chinese people entering the colony.

1.3 From miners to artisans: 1877 to 1901

Mining was a risky endeavor and very soon after arrival Chinese people began trying other ways of earning a living. People opened stores and became merchants and hawkers, By the 1890s Chinese people were represented in a wide variety of occupations including scrub cutters, interpreters, cooks, tobacco farmers, market gardeners, cabinet-makers, storekeepers and drapers, though by this time the fishing industry seemed to have disappeared. At the same time, Sydney's proportion of the Chinese residents of NSW had steadily increased.

1.4 War and refugees: 1936 to 1949

Numbers increased rapidly again when refugees began to enter Australia as the result of Japan's war in China and the Pacific. Some were Chinese crew members who refused to return to Japanese-held areas and others were residents of the many Pacific islands evacuated in the face of the Japanese advance. Still others included those with Australian birth who were able to leave Hong Kong and the villages on the approach of the Japanese. At the same time the anti-Japanese War helped inspire the development of organizations focused on China rather than the districts and villages of people's origin only, and aimed at making Australia aware of the danger of Japan and the need to assist China. A few of these organizations, such as the Chinese Youth League, survive to this day.

1.5 Re-migration and multiculturalism: 1973 to the present

The final end of the White Australia Policy saw new arrivals from the China and for the first time significant numbers from non-Cantonese speaking parts of China. The first wave of arrivals was ethnic Chinese refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia during the



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