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The Chinese Question in Australia, 1878-1879
Melbourne: F.F.Bailliere, 1879. Octavo, 32 pp. (last blank), disbound, fine. Chinese on the gold fields. An eloquent complaint against ill treatment of Chinese workers on the Victorian goldfields. All three authors were prominent Chinese living in Australia with close personal connections to gold mining. Lowe Kong Meng was a prosperous merchant and ship-owner who enjoyed several Australian gold speculations including a mine in Victoria located at Majorca. Likewise, Louis Ah Mouy emigrated at the height of the gold rushes and worked for many years as a prospector while encouraging the emigration of thousands of his countrymen. The last of the three authors of this pamphlet, Cheok Hong Cheong, was a Presbyterian missionary who preached at Ballarat during the turbulent 1850s. They describe the Chinese as ideal workers, being 'frugal, laborious, patient, docile, and persevering immigrants from the oldest empire in the world'. An outrage near Buckland in the Ovens district is of especial concern, here Chinese camps were burnt and plundered while some men were savagely beaten and even killed. The authors sagely propose that if such an insult were perpetrated against British nationals working in China there would be moral outrage in the papers followed by swift armed reprisal from British men-of-war. To this effect, the authors charge that the British government coercively opened Chinese ports with a view to equal commerce between the two great nations: 'Western powers, armed with the formidable artillery which modern science has supplied them, battered down the portals of the empire; and having done so insisted upon keeping them open'. Now that Britain has established a common market of goods and labour within treaty obligations, Chinese miners in Australia are merely enjoying rights bestowed through the coercive treaty system. In all it is a well-reasoned defence of the innate rights of Chinese on the Australian goldfields, argued against the context of British imperialism in China. Further moral weight is added by aligning the teachings of Christian missionaries with those of Confucius; herein both promote honesty, peace and brotherhood amongst men in the pursuit of common prosperity.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-07-29           Check availability:      Biblio    

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