“The Chinese must go” [The Bulletin, 21 August 1886]

[Editor: This article, about Chinese in Australia, appeared in the “Plain English” column, published in The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), 21 August 1886. The article referred to in the first paragraph is “The Chinese in Australia: Their vices and their victims”, which appeared in the same issue of The Bulletin.]

“The Chinese must go.”

The Bulletin indictment of the Chinese appears in this week’s issue. From that account it will be gathered that Mongolian immigrants are a heterogenous element in the population of Australia. For the purposes of money-making, or immorality, they come into contact with Australians, but in all other respects they are isolated units, having no cohesion save to members of their own race.

They constitute an autonomous band independent of Australian law, as they are regardless of Australian custom. “Manners they have none, and their habits are disgusting.” Their trade, customs, and practices are repugnant to local law, yet the law is powerless to prevent what it clearly forbids.

The Chinaman has been weighed in the balance and found very much wanting. When he is simply vicious, his vice is destructive; when criminal, a menace to the State; and when industrious, he threatens revolution of the social system.

The majority of Chinese coming to Australia are simply and literally slaves, acting under control of the central authority. When the Mongol, therefore, competes in the labour market by cabbage-growing, furniture-making, or what not, the result of his industry is to degrade Australian labour by bringing it down to the level of slavery. Even when not a slave, the labour of the Chinaman is a curse to the State generally, for he, knowing nothing of the comforts of civilisation, is willing to give his toil for the mere price of existence — an existence shorn of all graces as of all usefulness to the community.

Give a Chinese labourer a three-roomed house to himself, and a wife to himself, and he will be found unable to maintain the one or support the other by any honest labour. In Sydney there are some Chinese, other than the proprietors of stores — stores often run by the slave-labour of their own countrymen — who do support a wife and family in comfort, if not to luxury. One estimable gentleman of this class is known to most of the police as a professional burglar; he does not pretend to any other trade, but manages this one so deftly that he has never yet been convicted, although following this same industry for years. One or two others are equally well-known smugglers; they do nothing else, yet they are seldom caught, and when they are the fine is merely a charge on subsequent successful operations. Such men, and the storekeepers and gamblers, are the only ones who can spend anything on their homes, and even the latter class, the merchants, are, taken all round, a curse to the continent, for no reasonable citizen wishes to see shop-men enslaved.

There would be less danger of evil from the existence of Chinese in our midst if people were aware of the mode of life which obtains with these aliens. But purchasers of their and other wares are not, or else they probably would not buy as they now do.

The extension of Mongol power and Mongol vice is merely a question of time under present conditions. Every day the octopus remains only adds to the difficulty of his final ejection. It has been so in America; ’Frisco, with her colony of 70,000 Chinese has at last decided that absolute expulsion is the only remedy. “The Chinese must go!” is her motto, and that decision must be adopted by Australia. The Alien Act must be at once repealed to prevent the Chinese from acquiring freeholds: known gamblers, burglars, smugglers, and other criminals must be made to show whether they have lawful means of support; the European girls must be torn from the grasp of their present debasers; a law must be passed to prevent men from packing together, like sardines, in their dwelling houses; and if these things are done, though Chinamen will not be absolutely ejected from Australia, they will at least find it not worth while to remain.

“The Chinese must go!” Let this once be resolved, and the means of their expulsion will easily be found.

The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), 21 August 1886, p. 4 (column 1)

Also published in:
The Clarence & Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW), 28 August 1886, p. 3

The North Australian (Palmerston, Port Darwin, NT), 24 September 1886, p. 3

Editor’s notes:
’Frisco = San Francisco; a major city of California, located on the western coast of the USA

heterogenous = (regarded as an alternative spelling of “heterogeneous”) consisting of dissimilar or diverse constituents, ingredients, or parts; consisting of many different kinds of people or types of things; a mixed or diverse group of people who are very different from each other; a group or collection which is diverse in character or content (technically, with regards to biology and pathology, “heterogenous” refers to a source or origin outside of an organism or body, i.e. something with a different or foreign origin)

Mongol = an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia and northern China; in early Australia, the word “Mongol” was sometimes used as an alternative term for “Chinese”

Mongolian = see: Mongol

octopus = the Chinese octopus (or “Mongolian octopus”) was a phrase used to describe the influence and reach of the Chinese people (usually used in a negative sense, in such a way as to evoke an imagery of the spreading arms and influence of Chinese corruption, crime, and vice)

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