Saturday, March 25, 2006

Guangdong Industry

Industry: Light industry has always been of significance in the province. Apart fromhandicrafts, light industry -- especially food processing and the manufacture of textiles -- accounts considerablly the provincial industry. Sugar refining is centred in Guangzhou, Dongguan, Shunde, Jiangmen and Shantou, while silk filature (the reeling of silk from cocoons) and weaving are well developed in Guangzhou, Foshan and Shunde.

Guangdong History

History: Guangdong was originally occupied by non-Han ethnic groups, and was first incorporated into the Chinese Empire in 222 BC, when Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the Qin dynasty, conquered the area along the Xijiang River and Beijiang River valleys down to the Zhujiang River Delta. In 111 BC Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty extended rule as far as to Hainan Island. During the five centuries of the Sui, Tang, and Northern Song dynasties from AD 581 to 1126, the military and agricultural settlement of Guangdong, coupled with increasing overseas trade through Guangzhou port, led to an increase in migration into Guangdong, and to the rise of Guangzhou as a metropolis with a population of hundreds of thousands. Two major southward thrust of the Han Chinese took place, one in 1126, when Jurchens captured the Song capital, the other in 1279, when Mongols subdued Song dynasty. These migrations marked the beginning of the rapid cultural development of Guangdong. The population grew so fast that by the late 17 century, Guangdong had already become an area from which emigration took place. Migrants from Guangdong moved first to Guangxi, Sichuan and Taiwan and then in mid-19th century began to pour into Southeast Asia and North America

Colliery flooding

19 die in colliery flooding 2006-03-25 08:05:57
BEIJING, March 25 -- The flood which submerged a colliery in North China's Shanxi Province a week ago has claimed the lives of at least 19 miners, with nine others still missing, according to local officials.
"Rescuers are doing everything they can to search for those still missing," an official at the command centre in Shanxi's Linxian County told China Daily on Friday. The survival chances of the trapped are now "very slim."
The official said thick silt in the pit hampered rescue efforts, as rescuers tried to pump out the slush, mud and coal dust.
According to Xinhua, the underground ventilation system has now resumed operation and a team is investigating the cause of the accident.
Officials say the coal mine was supposed to conduct a safety rectification, which prohibits production, just days before the accident. No more than nine miners are permitted to enter the colliery for maintenance of the shaft.
"A total of 58 miners were working in the pit when the accident took place," said Wang Silai, vice-director of works safety in the city of Luliang, which supervises the county.
Officials said chaotic management and loopholes in work safety practices allowed the miners to dig into a previous coal mine, which led to the sudden flooding.
The owner of the coal mine is now in custody and the provision of compensation for the victims is underway.
The accident took place at 3:30 pm on March 18 in the Fanjiashan Coal Mine in Linxian County. Of the 58 miners who were working under the shaft, only 30 managed to escape.
Meanwhile, a gas explosion in a coal mine in North China's Hebei Province early this week killed eight miners, injuring five others.
According to officials with the provincial work safety bureau, the owner of the No 2 Huzhuang Coal Mine in Zhuolu County tried to cover up the March 20 tragedy.
Inspectors rushed to the site to deal with the aftermath and to investigate the cause of the accident.
Li Yizhong, head of State Administration of Work Safety, said the Chinese Government has vowed to shut down 35,800 unsafe mines this year including 6,000 collieries around the nation, in a bid to reduce the death toll from mining accidents.
(Source: China Daily)

Chinese Abroad

Chinese living abroad want to return 2006-03-25 14:25:09
BEIJING, March 25 -- The majority of Chinese people living abroad want to return to China to work, but they expect to earn more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,235) a month and hold at least a mid-level management position, a recent survey suggests.
High expectations have become the biggest obstacle for returned overseas Chinese to find a job in the country, said human resource experts., one of China's leading Web-based headhunters, asked 3,097 overseas Chinese living in 49 countries and regions about their attitudes towards coming back to China to work.
Nearly 88 percent of people surveyed said they would like to return to China to work, but more than 40 percent said they would have to earn at least 10,000 yuan a month.
Only 2 percent of respondents said they would accept a salary of less than 4,000 yuan a month, which is nearly double the city's average income, the survey reported.
Respondents also said they would prefer to work for foreign-invested companies in Shanghai or Beijing, according to the survey.
"Returnees always have high expectations about their position and payment, and are picky about the job location and company," said Zhang Tingwen, director of's human resources research center.
Those high requirements usually prevent them from taking jobs in China, he added.
For instance, a 37-year-old Shanghai-native surnamed Xu returned to the city to find work last August after completing an MBA in France. While he has received several job offers, Xu is still waiting for a management position.
"It will be a big waste of my overseas MBA degree if I can't be at least a manager," Xu said, adding that he would rather continue to wait.
Xu is not alone. An earlier report indicated that 35 percent of returned overseas Chinese find it difficult to land a satisfactory job.
Zhang said that China's gradually opening economy had created abundant job opportunities for returned overseas Chinese, who have stronger foreign language skills and more international experience.
(Source: Shanghai Daily)
Editor: Liu Dan

Friday, March 24, 2006

Chinese in Canada

An unforgotten chapter in Canadian history
After thousands of Chinese immigrants built the railway, the Canadian government imposed a malicious head tax to stem further immigration. Now, Chinese-Canadians want an apology. A look at the where the redress movement stands in Canada’s modern political landscape.
by Colleen Tang
Sid Tan’s grandfather came to Canada when he was only 19 years old. Arriving in 1919, Chow Gim (Norman) Tan made a living working as a cooking assistant on a track steamer.
“He made his home in Canada,” said Tan of his grandfather. “He believed enough in Canada.”
Tan’s grandfather, like all Chinese immigrants at the time, was forced to pay a $500 head tax upon his arrival in the country. For nearly half a century, though, Tan’s grandfather could not be reunited with his whole family.
“The government of Canada separated [my grandma] from her husband for 25 years by a racist law,” said Tan.
It wasn’t until 1964 that Norman Tan was granted Canadian citizenship, along with his young grandson.
Tan indicated that his family’s history in North America went as far back as the San Francisco gold rush of 1849.
“In our family, after over 150 years of Tan men coming to Canada, it’s only in my generation...that [Tan children] were born in North America.”
The Chinese Immigration Act
About 17,000 Chinese labourers were employed working on the Canadian Pacific Railway. They were referred to as ‘cheap labour’—paid one dollar per day, less than half of what their white colleagues made. The jobs that were offered to the Chinese workers included laying track and tunneling. They were also saddled with the most dangerous tasks, such as handling explosives. Of the 17,000 workers, approximately 700 died on the job.
But after the railway was completed in 1885 it was made clear that neither they nor their services were needed anymore. Almost immediately, a head tax payment of $500 was imposed on all Chinese people wishing to enter the country.
The head tax did not stop Chinese immigrants from crossing the Pacific. It did, however, result in many families being separated. Husbands left behind wives and children to come work in Canada; the head tax made it too costly for more than one member of a family to go.
20 years of advocating
For decades, there have been numerous organisations lobbying the government to redress the head tax issue with survivors, spouses and descendents. During the recent federal election, this issue garnered tremendous attention from the media.
“It’s very important to recognise this issue for what it is,” said Bill Chu, head tax descendent and spokesperson for the BC Coalition of Head Tax Payers, Spouses and Descendents.
“Any country that had committed that sort of crime against a portion of its own citizens should really reflect on [itself] and do the right thing by apologising and compensating those harmed,” said Chu.
“I think the main thing is that the people who physically paid for the head tax [are] dying off altogether. Another ten years, probably everybody will die off.”
One of the reasons why this issue has yet to be resolved is because of a lack of political commitment on the part of Parliament.
Chu feels strongly that a collective Canadian effort is needed in order for this issue to be properly addressed.
“There’s a big need for Canadians to realise that we’re not simply talking about $500 paid way back when and [asking] for that $500,” he said. “What we’re really talking about is when discrimination against a particular culture has been legalised and authorised by the state itself.”
“It requires a serious apology on the part of the country to respond to the parties and to apologise and compensate in an honourable way,” Chu continued.
Like Chu, Thekla Li, president of BC Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (BC ALPHA) believes that it is a matter of honour to apologise and redress the racism of the head tax.
“It has a great impact on the Chinese community...That’s why we find it very important to have the government redress on this racist chapter of history in Canada,” said Li. “If any of the MPs have any sense of justice they should support it.”
Victor Wong, executive director of Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC) and head tax payer descendant, noted that this historical injustice has had a great impact on the Chinese community. When looking at the number of Chinese Canadians holding positions in the provincial and federal governments, Wong observed that there might be a dozen but certainly less than two-dozen MP’s and MLAs.
“In comparison to our population of over a million people that is not proportional. You can see the legacy of the exclusion...[after] the legislation was removed. There were still racial barriers to participation and we’re still living with that today.”
BC ALPHA has estimated that the $23 million collected in head taxes has a present value of $1.2 billion. Japanese-Canadian internment survivors, who were victims of similar racist treatments—including not being allowed to eat at certain restaurants and segregated education—were compensated for. But it took the government 40 years to redress those issues. Each living internment survivor was given $21,000; additionally, the government invested another $36 million towards cultural, educational and social programs. Whether or not Chinese-Canadian head tax payer survivors will receive a similar arrangement is unknown.
BC ALPHA’s plan of compensation involves two stages. The first stage demands that the federal government pass a parliamentary resolution on the first of July to formally apologise for 62 years of “racial enactments” and “directly consult the surviving head tax payers” in the form of an individual compensation and education fund “to make sure this chapter of history is learned...and won’t happen again in Canada,” said Li.
The individual compensation is “a partial refund...a symbolic refund to each of the families who paid and who have the [head tax] certificate,” said Li.
Wong agreed that some form of symbolic redress and a formal apology is necessary.
“They want people to know that human dignity is not negotiable and that racism is wrong,” said Wong.
For now, CCNC and BC ALPHA have petitioned for a meeting with the current Conservative government and are awaiting a response from them.
“The government must take the initiative,” said Wong. “They have some good will. I think most Canadians, no matter how they voted, they wanted to at least give them a chance so we also want to give them a chance.”
MPs and party representatives speak
While CCNC, BC ALPHA and the BC Coalition of Head Tax Payers, Spouses and Descendants wait for their chance to negotiate with the current government, members of the New Democratic Party (NDP) continue to press the issue in parliament.
The NDP has been drumming the issue since the 1984. The party believes that this is an issue that can easily be resolved if addressed appropriately.
“The head tax issue is just one of a number of issues that with the government stepping forward and taking action, sitting down with the groups, finding out what would be an appropriate package to offer, it can be resolved in very short order,” said Peter Juilan, an NDP MP for Burnaby-New Westminster. “They do not have the political will to resolve an issue that is relatively simple to address.”
A crucial mistake the Liberals made with this issue was to try to finesse it, commented Julian.
“They didn’t deal with the issue of individual compensation. They tried to basically thin the issue,” he said. “The imposition of the head tax has galvanised a lot of activists, who are saying quite rightfully, ‘Why can’t the government just respond in an appropriate way to a long-standing historical injustice?’”
“With the Liberals and Conservatives, they are capable to give away billions of dollars in corporate tax cuts at the bat of an eye,” continued Julian, “But they’re not willing to spend some millions of dollars to negotiate with all the groups concerned.”
Both Julian and Libby Davies, NDP House leader and MP for Vancouver East, agreed that the head tax bears on Canadian identity.
“It’s a Canadian issue. It’s how Canadians work to right historical wrongs and I believe most Canadians feel very strongly that no government is perfect and no individual is perfect but if we’re...trying to restore historical grievances, that is the Canadian way,” said Julian.
Davies commented on the inequality in government itself, saying, “I think that Parliament is not representative of Canadian society and it’s reflected in the decisions that are made.”
Davies saw Martin’s attempt to redress the issue as too little, too late.
“Paul Martin’s apology I think came too late even for votes,” said Davies. “I mean the Liberals have held us up for more than a decade. They had ample opportunity to do the right thing.”
The Conservative Party made a campaign promise to reopen the issue, but according to Davies, who was a member of the Parliament committee created to enquire into the matter under the Liberal government, the Tories deserve blame for forestalling as well.
“The Conservatives themselves... basically made a deal with Liberals to drop the idea of an apology.”
Libbies said her party will continue to push the for compensation and hold the current government accountable to their election promises, said Davies.
“We’ll make sure that this issue will be dealt with early on in Parliament,” stated Davies. “Will we continue to press it? Will we continue to hold him to account? Yes. Will [Harper] keep his promise? I hope so, but I don’t know.”
According to Sana Shahram, president of the Federal Young Liberals at UBC, her group does feel that an apology is necessary and the Liberal party will hold the Conservatives accountable to their word.
“My personal view is that we definitely do owe them an apology and the party’s view on the issue is that they also think there should be an apology given, just the same that they expect to give to any Canadian who has been wronged according to their race or religion or anything,” said Shahram.
Shahram also said the apology Martin gave was done in the best way possible, given that the implications of a formal apology were not yet understood.
“I think it was actually very responsible on his part because opening up the government to lawsuits is not something that a responsible leadership would do without having known all of his options and knowing what would happen.”
Money should not be a main factor in this issue, said Shahram.
“An apology would be much more meaningful,” she insisted.
The delicate art of apologies
The main motive for those still fighting for redress is to get a formal apology from Canada. An apology, however, is not as simple as saying sorry explained UBC history Professor Henry Yu.
“The Prime Minister could go around saying sorry all he wants but that’s meaningless,” said Yu.
An apology provides the chance for Canada, as a nation, to say that they are a better country now than they were then, he added.
“An apology is not just saying, ‘sorry we’re bad people,’ [but rather], ‘look, we’re saying sorry because we’re better people now and we wouldn’t do this again.’”
Yu made a comparison with the Japanese-American and Japanese-Canadian internment redress issues and commented on its unlikely success.
“It’s quite a remarkable redress issue. If [Japanese-American internment] were to happen in the U.S. again, there’s no way in hell [that it would be redressed],” said Yu. “It went through there because there was a large scale effort that went not just to Japanese-Americans but also non-Japanese-Americans who always felt this was wrong.”
“It succeeded because they were able to prove [Japanese internment] was un-American,” continued Yu. “This was something that never should have been done.”
Yu pointed out that the U.S. governement has never apologised for slavery, and suggested one of the main reasons why there hasn’t been a formal apology to victims of the Chinese head tax is on account of liability.
“An apology isn’t just symbolic...An apology says, ‘I’m responsible.’”
Yu said that the federal election helped to bring this issue to the foreground.
“I think one of the amazing things that happened in the lead up to the election was that it became a big issue in Chinese language press,” said Yu. “A lot of people who wouldn’t have known about the issue or who didn’t care...came to realise that this is an issue at the heart of all of Chinese Canada, in all its diversity. This is an issue of how a country recognises history. The symbolism therefore is important.”
This massive interest from the Chinese-Canadian community became a problem, however, said Yu.
“I think the main problem in some sense is that once it became an issue the Liberal government thought would get them votes from Chinese Canadians...It’s just the half-assed way, to use that term, that they handled it because they just thought it would get them votes,” he said. “They just did what they thought would work and they never bothered to talk or listen to people who have been advocating for this for awhile.”
“That’s where the NDP and the Conservative Party [pointed out the Liberals] fell short of what they ought to do. Even the Martin government had to backtrack and say, ‘We didn’t do enough’.”
According to UBC political science Professor Gerald Baier, it is not the refusal of an apology, but rather the assumptions that go along with a formal apology that has dragged the issue out.
“I think anything like this is potentially going to cost money. The potential for lawsuits and arrests are high [because] an apology admits culpability and...anytime [the government] accepts responsibility, that might mean that some groups might be able to make financial claim against the government,” said Baier.
This rings true with the $2.5 million education fund signed in principle by the federal government with various Chinese organisations—an amount far short of the $1.2 billion collected in head taxes.
This money doesn’t mean the issue will just go away. This issue will continue to be pursued as long as survivors are around, predicted Baier.
“The one thing that the head tax people have on their side is their stories...and to be able to demonstrate that vividly with frailer older people helps. When you lose those people, it’s harder to make that claim,” said Baier.
There is no question as to whether or not this was historically wrong on the part of the government, he added.
“[This issue is] almost impossible to ignore...It certainly was racially motivated...There’s no question what the policy was intended to do and how it sought to do it and how unjust it was,” said Baier.
A shame that can’t be forgotten
“The history of [the head tax] is that in fact it benefited the province of British Columbia immensely...They were paying for the government and the services,” said Yu. “It is the exact opposite of what democracy is supposed to be...The people who [were] paying [weren’t] allowed to have any say in the society.”
“No one would make a historical argument that this was not discriminatory,” continued Yu. “One group had to pay it and no one else did.”
Whether or not this issue gets resolved is up to the current federal government. They have the chance now to right this historical wrong or choose not to. It took 40 years for the persecution and discrimination of Japanese-Canadians to be redressed. Chinese-Canadians have waited almost 50 years since the exclusion act was repealed. This is an issue that is not going to simply die down. In fact, with the stories of survivors coming being told to the community, in some ways, the issue seems to be at its peak.

Canadian Genealogy

The Vancouver Public Library has a Website devoted to Chinese Canadian Genealogical Research. It outlines strategies used to conduct research, explaination of genealogy charts and examples, Chinese naming convention, history of migration and settlement, links to stories, how to conduct interviews, sources of information, and link to China. Vancouver Public Library has microfilm records of BC death, birth, and marriage records. It also has microfilm copies of the General Register of Chinese Immigration. They cover from a period 1885-1900 and 1903-1949

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Head tax apology urged

Head tax apology urged
Discriminated Chinese migrants are all elderly now

Shee Johnson Wong, 103, is greeted by Dr. Joseph Wong at a press conference. (Photo: Laura Gallella, Toronto Sun.)
Sim Nuey Chin is 94. James Pon is 89.
They are among the last survivors and their spouses -- there may be as few as 200 -- who paid a head tax of $50 to $500 for Chinese to immigrate to Canada decades ago.
With the number of survivors dwindling as they enter their 90s and 100s, an Ontario group urged Ottawa yesterday to apologize soon for the head tax and subsequent Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigrants for more than two decades until the end of World War II.
"We urge the government to act quickly to ensure they see justice in their time," said Susan Eng, co-chairman of the Ontario Coalition of Head Tax Payers and Families.
The group hopes for a July 1 apology to coincide with the date in 1923 when the Exclusion Act came into force.
Halton MP Garth Turner, who spoke for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, gave a "100% iron-clad commitment" yesterday that the government would apologize and redress past wrongs.

"This will happen," Turner said, adding more details will emerge in the Throne Speech on April 3.
Eng said negotiations are slated to begin Friday with MPs Bev Oda and Jason Kenney.
Groups have not attached a dollar figure to compensation, but Eng noted 82,000 immigrants paid $23 million from 1885 to 1923.

James Pon was just 5 years old when his father paid $1,000 to bring him and his mother to Canada in 1922.
"It took him 17 years to repay this debt, even though the person who loaned the money didn't charge him one penny of interest,"Pon recalled yesterday.
His family was so destitute that Pon was "farmed out" at age 12 to work in restaurants.
"It was horrible. My father couldn't afford to keep me at home. From a boy of 12, I was suddenly a man," Pon said.
Sim Nuey Chin, whose husband paid the $500 tax, lived apart from her spouse for nearly 30 years, separated by the Exclusion Act.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

On The Island of Shadows

On the Island of Shadows
photo courtesy B.C. Archives
A solitary leper at the D'Arcy Island colony in 1897 sits amid supplies that were dropped off by boat once every three months.
Island of Shadows: D'Arcy Island Leper Colony 1891-1924 -- VTV (ch. 9) 2 p.m. Sunday May 14, National Premiere on Vision TV (ch. 40) 9 p.m. Wed., May 17.
By Katharine HamerNews
ERIK Paulsson was planning a camping trip to the Gulf Islands with his wife when he picked up a guide with a brief description of D'Arcy Island.
He was taken aback to discover that the island -- 30 km. from Victoria in the southern gulf island chain -- had once been a leper colony.
Curiosity piqued, Paulsson headed for the B.C. Archives in Victoria to find out more -- and discovered that during its 33-year tenure as a leper colony, D'Arcy Island was populated almost entirely by Chinese men: migrant workers who had left their families behind in search of employment.
Shipped to the island, the lepers were left on their own in groups of no more than nine, with a supply boat coming only once every three months to drop off food, opium and coffins.
The head of the federal quarantine service at the time said of the island, "We may all agree that for Whites D'Arcy Island would be a dismal prospect, but for Asiatics the conditions answer fairly well."
Through dramatizations and interviews with historians and doctors, Island of Shadows recreates turn of the century life in the isolated colony.
Despite his meagre budget, Paulsson and his crew managed seven days of shooting -- all on film and in eight different locations -- for the reconstructions. Twenty cast members and eighteen crew helped shape the picture.
Along with historian Chris Yorath, Paulsson has since persuaded the provincial government to erect a memorial plaque on the island, and to mark the graves of those who died there.
The son of a Holocaust historian and a social activist, Paulsson says he's "always been fascinated by history."
The Ontario native was "shocked by the level of intolerance" he found in Vancouver when he moved here in 1997, particularly towards those of Asian descent.
"I would ride the Hastings bus to work every day and hear horrible slurs," he says.
In the wake of last year's mass arrival of Chinese migrants, with its attendant clamour for an immigration clampdown, Paulsson believes his film is nothing if not timely. The notion of isolating victims raised its ugly head in B.C. not so long ago: Paulsson points to a Socred discussion in the 1980's of establishing a colony for AIDS sufferers.
Of his film, Paulsson says, "I want people to walk away with an understanding of the real lives that were destroyed."
Island of Shadows kicks off Asian Heritage Month in Greater Vancouver.
The film is narrated by Sook-Yin Lee -- well-known to Vancouverites as the former lead singer of local band Bob's Your Uncle -- and executive produced by David Vaisbord, whose own film about the community of Britannia Beach is set to air on VTV later this year

David and Emma Caught Unawares

Kiwi tourists held by gunmen during art heist in Brazil
25.02.06 4.00pm
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - A New Zealand couple were among tourists held by gunmen during an art heist at a Rio museum in Brazil today, the Associated Press (AP) is reporting.. The thieves overpowered security guards and stole paintings by Picasso, Dali, Matisse and Monet early today (NZ time), using the cover of a Carnival crowd to make their getaway, authorities said. They entered the Chacara do Ceu museum as a samba band performed on the street outside and stole Pablo Picasso's The Dance, Salvador Dali's The Two Balconies, Henri Matisse's Luxemburg Garden and Claude Monet's Marine. The four thieves reportedly used grenades to threaten security guards and people inside the museum, which was open at the time of the heist. A couple from New Zealand and two tourists from Australia were among those held by the gunmen, AP affirmed that South American news website Globo Online was reporting. The paintings were considered the most valuable pieces at the museum, but their exact value was not immediately available, said Thais Isel, a spokeswoman with Rio's Public Safety Secretariat. The gunmen forced the guards to shut down the museum's security cameras, then fled while taking advantage of the huge crowd that was following the Carnival band. Museum director Vera de Alencar said the robbery appeared to have been orchestrated by specialists, probably from international gangs, the country's official Agencia Brasil news service reported. Brazil's federal police issued a countrywide alert to try to keep the paintings from leaving Brazil. Carnival celebrations in Brazil officially began on Friday and continue until Tuesday.

Gu Cheng

Gu Cheng

Gu Cheng (1956-93) was one of the innovative writers of “misty poetry” (menglung shi) who emerged in the immediate post-Mao years. He began writing poetry as a child in Shandong province where his parents had been exiled in 1969, during the Cultural Revolution. Gu Cheng went back to Beijing in 1974 and worked as a carpenter, an industrial painter, and a laborer, then worked as a newspaper and magazine editor. He began writing again and left China for Europe in 1987. In his last years, searching for a new poetics, Gu experimented radically with language, creating tortured and incomprehensible word-puzzles. This set of poems, “Walled Dreams, and an Awakening,” represent a time when his poetry began moving away from a relatively naïve lyricism toward a new language of density and play. Gu Cheng's selected poems have been published in Chinese, English, German, French, Swedish and Danish. His drawings, articles, and one novel are also well known.

Gu Cheng - Chinese Poet Waiheke

Cong Su: Mercury Light WorldINTERCULTURE MUSIC THEATREVenue: Hebbel am Ufer HAU EINS
Cong Su Mercury Light Worldmusic theatre after poems by Gu Chenglibretto by Michael Schindhelm (2005) WP/CWChen Shi-Zheng · directionRenchang Fu · conductorYoshio Yabara · stage/costumesDong-Jian Gong · bassLi Yanan · sopranoDie Maulwerker · choirLeigh Haas/flora&faunavisions · video designMatthias Kirschke · sound directionVeit Gries · lighting designGregor Luft · technical directorKathrin Veser · assistant directorKathrin Veser/Katherine Quigley · production managerIn Chinese with German supertitlesMaerzMusik Berliner Festspiele in coproduction with Hebbel am Ufer HAU, Theater Basel and Brisbane Festival, in cooperation with Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD, supported by the Hauptstadtkulturfonds 18:30 introduction with Cong Su, Michael Schindhelm and Chen Shi-Zhengmoderation · Matthias Osterwold-->
Subject of the libretto is the poetry of Chinese lyric poet Gu Cheng, one of the most outstanding Chinese poets of his generation. His childhood was determined by the Mao Cultural Revolution, his adolescence by the short thaw period following Mao’s death, his later life by exile and alienation. As a young man, Cheng travelled from Beijing to New Zealand and Europe, spent a whole year in Berlin on invitation of DAAD, created an existentialist-Taoist work in which his personal quest for identity and a modern consciousness are being reflected on the border between cultural and chronological eras. The quest becomes the subject of the libretto, employing various poems from the cycles Mercury Light Worlds and Advent of the Spirits/Spirits on Their Way to the City. The central focus of the plot revolves aound a person found unconscious in a Berlin street, who, when coming to realizes to have lost all sense of identity. Nobody knows who this person is. Police, public and diplomatic investigations yield no results. Without an identity but with an awareness of foreign origins, the protagonist is headed for a dramatic self-questioning.Cong Su does not compose an opera for instrumental ensemble but creates a computer-generated sound image by merging music and nature sounds.

Friday, March 17, 2006


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Taishan (台山 pinyin: Táishān; Cantonese: Toisan; local: Hoisan ) is a coastal county-level city in Guangdong Province, China. The city is located in the Pearl River delta, southwest of Jiangmen (to which administratively belongs) and 140 kilometers west of Hong Kong, with a population of approximately 1 million. It also contains 95 islands and islets, including the largest island in Guangdong, Shangchuan Island.
Because it is estimated that over 75% of all overseas Chinese until the mid- to late-20th century claimed origin in Taishan, the city is also known as the "Home of Overseas Chinese."
1 History
2 Administration
3 Demographics
4 External links

On February 12, 1499 in the 12th year of the reign of the emperor Hongzhi during the Ming Dynasty, Taishan was founded as Xinning County (新寧縣) from land in the south-west of Xinhui County. Xinning has also been romanized as Sunning, Sinning, Hsinning and Hsînnîng.
From 1854 to 1867 a genocidal war broke out mainly in Taishan County between the Punti and Hakka people with disastrous results for all sides.
In 1914, Xinning was renamed Taishan to avoid confusion with the Xinnings of Hunan and Sichuan. Unfortunately it is now confused with Taishan Mountain in Shandong Province. On April 17, 1992, Taishan's status was upgraded from county to city.

Taishan is under the juridiction of Jiangmen. In a jurisdiction of 3,286 km², Taishan contains twenty towns (镇), which are subdivided into 503 village residential committees (村居委会) and 3655 natural villages (自然村).
Baisha (白沙镇)
Beidou (北陡镇): separated from the other townships by Zhenhai Bay (镇海湾) inlet
Chixi (赤溪镇)
Dajiang (大江镇)
Doushan (斗山镇)
Duhu (都斛镇)
Guanghai (广海镇)
Haiyan (海宴镇): contains an overseas Chinese farm (华侨农场)
Nafu (那扶镇)
Duanfen (端芬镇)
Sanba (三八镇)
Sanhe (三合镇)
Shangchuan (上川镇): islands; Tourism Open Integrated Experimental Zone (旅游开发综合试验区)
Shenjing (深井镇)
Shuibu (水步镇)
Sijiu (四九镇)
Taicheng (台城镇): contains downtown and the city seat
Wencun (汶村镇)
Xiachuan (下川镇): islands; Tourism Open Integrated Experimental Zone (旅游开发综合试验区)
Chonglou (冲蒌镇)

Since 1774, 1.3 million people living overseas trace their ancestry to Taishan, outnumbering those who live in Taishan. Among these are:
Former Governor Gary Locke of Washington (ancestry in Shuibu Township)
Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson of Canada (in Sijiu)
Former Prime Minister Julius Chan of Papua New Guinea (in Annanjiangchao Village(安南江潮村) of Duoshan)
Magazine publisher Jack Yan of New Zealand (central Chinese heritage, but Taishanese from c. 1600)
In Hong Kong, there is:
Actor Tony Leung
Actress/Singer Flora Chan
The locals natively speak Taishanese, or sei yap (four counties), a dialect of the Yue usually considered to be similar to Standard Cantonese. Prior to the 1970s, Taishanese was the predominant dialect spoken throughout North America's Chinatowns.

External links
China Taishan Web
Taishan City Government
Taishan Genealogy
Map of Taishan
Taishan Merchant Web
Retrieved from ""

China Related Mission Books.

Presbyterian Website - New Zealand Missionaries to China

A limited search facility now exists to view recorded details of Parish and General Assembly related photographs up to 1920 held in our collections. This database may be searched via our on-site search engine or by accessing the "Photo Archives" link in the left hand menu bar. A database of early overseas Mission area photographs may be found on our 'Foreign Missions Office' site (link in left hand menu bar) with Maori Mission photographs under 'Academic Research' (link in left hand menu bar).
The Presbyterian Archives Collections
The archives held in the Presbyterian Archives are from The General Assembly, General Assembly Committees, Foreign, Home and Maori Missions, Local and National Presbyterian Women's and Youth organizations, Parishes and Presbyteries in Otago and Southland, Knox College, Knox Theological Hall and School of Ministry, the Presbyterian Synod of Otago and Southland, the Otago Foundation Trust Board, and the personal papers of Ministers and prominent Presbyterian Laymen and Women from throughout New Zealand. Also held is a large collection of Photographs, Cine film, Lantern slides, Slides, Audio/Video tapes and Plans. Contact details appear below.

New Zealand Chinese Misson

The Story of The New Zealand Chinese Mission
1867 to 1952
The title image portrays Tang Yin Ling of Horseflat, Macraes, Central Otago, returning home after collecting his supplies. Photograph by Rev Alexander Don, c.1900-01.
The Beginning :
From the middle of the 19th century, civil and foreign instigated wars as well as a consequent economic downturn, particularly in the southern Provinces, led countless thousands of Chinese nationals to leave their homeland in search of more profitable work and relative safety overseas. The discovery of gold in Otago, New Zealand in the 1860's brought a veritable rush of Chinese immigrants here. The men came alone leaving behind wives and children. Not one of these men intended to remain in New Zealand, they did not view themselves as colonists. Their hearts were always 'at home' where they planned to return when fortune smiled upon them, in life if not also in death. The Chinese went to considerable lengths to bury their dead in the land of their birth.
Chinese communities sprang up quickly on the various goldfields firstly in Otago and later spreading to other South Island fields. They tended to group together in their own communities, characterized by their almost windowless huts made of stones or turf, generally with thatch or sacks for roofs. The Chinese were industrious and hard working, and to the European extremely superstitious. The attitude of their European neighbours was generally one of prejudism and mistrust. The culture of the Chinese with their own customs and language, unique style of clothing and the obligatory long kues (pony tails) was in stark contrast to their own.

Sun Yat Sen

The Life of Dr Sun Yat Sen

Young Dr SunWhen China experienced incessant domestic trouble and foreign invasion, the people had no means of livelihood as the country was gradually being carved up. It was during this tumultuous period that a person who was to deliver China from her misery was born. He was Sun Yat Sen.
On November 12 1866, Sun Yat Sen was born into a tenant-peasant family in Cuiheng village, Xiangshan county, Guangdong. He had many monikers. He was known as Sun Wen, Deming (childhood name) or Dixiang (name he took at 20). In his adulthood, he assumed the name of Rixin or Yixian (Yat Sen) which his foreign friends refer to him as. When he was conducting revolutionary activities in Japan, he used the Japanese name, Nakayama Kikori (Zhongshan Qiao). On establishing the republic, people referred to him as Mr Zhongshan.

Ventnor - Shipping Disaster

In October 1902 the Chong Shin Tong Society and other Chinese interests chartered the 3,961-ton twin-screw steamer Ventnor to carry 499 coffins, containing the remains of Chinese who had died in New Zealand, for reburial in their homeland. Besides these, she also carried 5,357 tons of Westport coal. On 26 October 1902, after completing her loading, the Ventnor sailed from Wellington bound for Hong Kong. Weather conditions were fine and the sea smooth at the time of her departure. Shortly after noon on the following day she struck a submerged rock off Cape Egmont and was holed forward. The engines were reversed and the ship managed to get free. As there were no suitable dock facilities at Wellington, the master decided to proceed to Auckland via North Cape for repairs. In the meantime the pumps were brought into use, but these could not cope with the water. By 9 p.m. on 28 October, when Ventnor was about 10 miles off Omapere, Hokianga Harbour, the ship became unmanageable and it was apparent that she would soon founder. Although all boats were launched, 13 lives were lost when the captain's boat was sucked under with the ship. The Ventnor's unusual cargo was not recovered. This was not the first occasion that Chinese corpses had been sent from New Zealand. In the 1880s a similar shipment had been made, though on a much smaller scale than that of 1902.

Lawrence Cemetery


Block 3 Plot 26

500 Agnes Chow Chie died 22/3/1896 aged 29. Erected by her friends. Stone is decorative white marble slab
620 Chum Shim Kong Kung
753 Lee William Sing
718 Sarah McShane Yet See
759 Charley Fook Ying
Maria Ah Ying
249 Jane Fook You

Chinese Burials

Although there is a Chinese section marked on the Ground Plan of the cemetery behind the “old” general section, there is no sign of anything on the ground today – in fact the Chinese section appears to be outside the Cemetery boundary fence in 1982. However the following is a list of names appearing on Page 290 in the old Burial Book.

620 Sue Chong Quce 2 /2/1929
Ah Chang 13/6/1929
Yeck Gie 26/2/1931
Fau Siu 10/6/1935
Jong Mui Yow 27/6/1939
Kong Kung Chow 24/9/1939
Chow Shim 5/9/1945 aged 96 years

Seemingly, all Chinese buried prior to 1902 were disinterred for their bodies to be shipped home to China for burial there. This was on the ship “Ventnor” which carried 499 coffins of Chinese. The ship was wrecked off Omapere 28 October 1902 with the loss of 13 crew.

Plot 753 Block 3 Plot 37. Bare but shows burial of William Sing Lee.
Plot 718 Block 2 Plot 22. Sarah McShane the beloved wife of James Yet See who departed this life 6 May 1889 aged 31 years. Rest in Peace.
Plot 759 Block 3 Plot 29. Bare. Burial of Charley Fook Ying.
Plot 760 Block 3 Plot 28. Chinese inscription then Maria Ah Ying died 28/8/1897 aged 58 years.
Plot 249 Block 5 Plot 13. Jane Fook You died 18/5/1905 aged 35 years.

East Taiere Cemetery

1490 Block W Plot 704 / 703 Ding Chew. Bare
1489 Block W Plot 705 Kee Ling Young, most beloved husband of Elizabeth – died 7 October 1969 23 years. Chinese inscription.
1491 Block W Plot 702 / 701. Chin Gun. Bare
1346 Block Y Plot 26 Chinese Inscription. Kathleen Ding 1955-1957.
1608 Block V Plot 798 / 797. A dear husband and father. Chun Ding died 5/5/1966 aged 90 years. Also Choie Shee beloved wife and mother, died 25/4/1978 aged 100 years. Always remembered. R Millin and Sons.
1607 Block V Plot 800 / 799. A dear husband and father Hok Yan Sew Hoy died 19/9/1973 aged 74 years. Always remembered. Chinese inscription. Till Short/ Millin.
317 Block A Plot 235A Wong. Bare
1609 Block V Plot 796 / 795. A Dear father Jun Tim Sew Hoy passed away 16/4/1966. Ever remembered. Chinese inscription.

West Taiere Cemetery

178 Block 15 Plot 34. Burial Ah Chin. Removed to China.

Dunedin City Council - Shanghai experts help Garden progress

Dunedin’s Chinese Garden has moved a step closer to reality – thanks to the expert input of a delegation of cultural specialists from the Shanghai Museum. The Head of Shanghai Museum, Mr Hu Jianzhong, and three colleagues have spent a week in Dunedin (Shanghai’s sister city) going over the plans for the elegant Classical Chinese Garden planned for the vacant lot behind the Otago Settler’s Museum.

The delegates with Councillor Peter Chin Back: Cr Peter Chin and interpretor Liang Wei. Front: Chinese ancient architecture specialist Tan Yufeng, Head of the Shanghai Museum, Hu Jianzhong and Deputy Chief of the office in the Shanghai Culture Development Funding Association, Shi Jiancheng.Mr Hu said the talks between the Dunedin Chinese Gardens Trust, DCC representatives and the Shanghai delegates were a huge success. He said: “Our discussions were very fruitful and we have certainly reached an agreement on how the gardens should progress. “The end result will not only show off Dunedin’s Chinese heritage and cultural traditions but will also be a great sight-seeing place for tourists. “We can already envisage the opening day and hope to back here to enjoy it. We believe these gardens will really strengthen the link between Dunedin and Shanghai.” Councillor Peter Chin, who has been involved in the garden’s development since the idea was conceived as part of Otago’s 150th anniversary, is rapt with the progress that’s been made. He said: “I’m tremendously happy with the latest talks. It was great having the delegation over as it’s so much easier to talk to people face-to-face. It was also really important for Mr Hu and his colleagues to view the site and the buildings around it to help with the design.” The Dunedin Chinese Garden will transform the unattractive lot behind the Otago Settler’s Museum into a spectacular Classical garden in keeping with the tradition of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

An overview of the planned gardenThe garden's design is based upon the private gardens in Suzhou from the 10th to the 19th centuries. These gardens, unlike the imperial gardens, were quite small and informal in design. The Dunedin Chinese Garden will feature three pavilions, several courtyards, water features, terraces and a Grand Rockery. The garden will be surrounded by a traditional high wall. An important part of the garden will be the Descendants’ Gallery that will contain displays on New Zealand Chinese and plaques acknowledging the donations made to the garden by ethnic Chinese and Europeans. There will also be a Creeds and Customs Gallery where Chinese folklore, beliefs and customs will be depicted in display panels and trellis windows. While in Dunedin, the Chinese delegation was able to fine-tune the garden’s plans with local architects and other project members.

An image of the Sun Gum Shan bridge, planned for the garden.
Mr Hu said: “We have been discussing a lot of the engineering and technical aspects to prepare for the next stage..which will be getting ready for construction.“I believe that the DCC staff, along with the hard-working members of the Chinese Garden Trust will complete this garden very successfully and it will become one of the best of its sort in the world.” The Chinese Garden Trust is now busy fundraising towards the approximate figure of $2 million needed to complete the project. Some donations, including $150,000 from the local Chinese community, have already been gratefully received.

The Chinese Miners of Central Otago

by John Douglas
Chinese gold miners who mainly came from villages near Canton, Kwantung province in southern China, were encouraged by the Otago government to settle here as a result of decline in the number of European miners when a large number of them left for the Westcoast goldfields in 1866. The first 200 of these Chinese were recruited from the Victorian goldfields of Australia and by 1868 there were some 1200 of them in Otago.
Chinese miners often either re-worked the places where the Europeans had been before or the poorer fields. At nearly all the well known alluvial gravel goldfields, Chinese settlements were established - Lawrence, Teviot (Roxburgh), Naseby, Nevis Valley, Conroy's Gully, Arrowtown, Skippers, Cardrona Valley, on the Kawarau and the Clutha River - Cromwell / Clyde (Cromwell Gorge), Alexandra (Roxburgh Gorge) and Nokomai Valley, Southland. In the summer months, small numbers worked the winter snow areas of the Serpentine, Macetown, Potters No 2 and the Fraser Basin territory, moving back to their river claims in winter.
Neat stacks of rewashed stones, piled in orderly "tailings", are still evident of their workings worked by the methodical Chinese. They worked the riverbeds and terraces as well as hydraulic sluicing on a small scale. Generally they didn't like working in the tunnels and as well, lacked the capital to get into rock mining.
The Europeans, as a rule, were not fond of small earnings on a goldfield while the Chinese were perfectly satisfied with a fair return or wages living in either cave shelters, under canvas or in stone dwellings. Some Chinese set up trading stores - mainly for there own kind, a few as part time interrupters, others went into small scale market gardening, fruit growing, selling their produce mainly to the European (most Chinese had their own little garden plot), while others worked on road and bridge construction when work was available.
Despite the active early Otago government encouragement of the Chinese diggers, the majority of the mining communities did not always accept them. The culture differences led to misunderstandings and even active racism. Chinese miners often lived apart from the Europeans in Chinatown's along side the mining villages. In the early 1870's shiploads of Chinese were coming direct from China itself and by now the Chinese population in New Zealand reached some 5000 - 4300 in Otago. This increasing the pressure of prejudice and a demand that there numbers be restricted. As well the Government imposed a “Poll Tax”.
Immigration slowed down and by the 1890's the Chinese population began to recede with the majority making their way back to their "Home Land". Many of those that had died here were later disinterred from New Zealand soil to be returned home for reburial according to their own rites. The first shipment was in 1881. The next shipment was in 1902 when the SS Riniu picked up 265 that had been buried in Otago along with another 177 from the Westcoast and off loaded at Wellington onto the SS Ventnor with another 32 being picked up. Of the 474 dead (some records said 499) while returning home on their coffin ship, the ship hit a reef somewhere off Opunake, Taranaki and finally sank just south of the Hokianga heads, Northland. The captain and 15 others were lost while 20 of the crew survived as well as the four Chinese accompanying the coffins. The bones of the Chinese miners went down with the ship.
Those Chinese that stayed behind either couldn't return for family reasons or married a European woman and merged into the European way of live. There were a few rascals amongst the Chinese but the bulk of them were descent honest citizens. Amongst them were some exceptionally fine types capable of holding their own with the best of any race.
The most successful of these would likely to have been Sew Hoy, a wealthily and enterprising Chinese, a Dunedin merchant who in 1889 took up a claim on the Shotover River - Big Beach and worked five small steam bucket dredges with some success. Then in 1898 after Big Beach had been worked out, his son centered his interest on Nokomai, were they worked a sluicing claim with some good results till these workings closed down in 1942.
Today nearly all of the original Chinese settlements have now disappeared. The last big remains of the Cromwell Chinatown settlement on the lower Kawarau riverbank, vanished in 1992 along with most of old Cromwell under the waters of the newly formed Lake Dunstan. In 1980 a major archaeological excavation was carried out on site at the Arrowtown Chinatown. With some recreated dwellings, it's now opened for viewing while those traveling through the Kawarau Gorge can visit the recreation of a Chinese settlement at the Kawarau Goldfields Centre. At some of the Chinese mining sites throughout Central Otago, can still be seen some remains of stone huts, evidence of cave dwellings or could be just of an excavation site where once a tent stood.
What could be regarded as being of the most interesting of the Chinese miners presence left behind, is of the Chinese writings on gravestones at several cemeteries. Here they record the names of a few of the early Chinese buried that still remain in this country. At most of these early cemeteries they are either in a separate section away from the European graves or lie on the cemetery perimeter.
The evidence of the Chinese miners is still there to be seen at nearly all of the Otago goldfields sites and in most of the early gold mining towns.
Tours to where the Chinese mined and lived, tours of the Otago Goldfields, to the mountain ranges of Central Otago , wild flower walks and general tours can be arranged with John Douglas of Safari Excursions.
Book tour / walk
For more information email:
John Douglas, Safari Excursions, 41 Glencarron Street
Alexandra, Central Otago, New Zealand
Phone/fax: 64 (int) 3 (area) 448 7474Free phone (within New Zealand): 0800 208 930

Follow up to apology to Chinese community
Chinese heritage initiative announcementUpdateAnalysis of submissions and community meeting feedbackPoll tax bookConsultation processAdvisory teamCommunity meetingsFormal apologyBackgroundOnline poll tax recordsInteresting linksChinese heritage initiative announcement
Funding for recognition of Chinese heritage announced: outlining the initiatives, the historial background and the intentions for the trustUpdate
Update: Regular news and information on the consultation processAnalysis of submissions and community meeting feedback
Analysis report: this paper is an analysis of what came out of the consultation process. Community feedback took two main forms. The first constitutes results from community meetings held in Christchurch, Dunedin, Napier, Palmerston North, Wellington, Hamilton, Mangere, Pukekohe, Mount Eden and Levin. Just over 1,000 people attended the 10 meetings held between 4 and 29 May 2002. The second set of results came from the written submissions. The written submission period ran from March 2002 to January 2003 and a total of 420 submissions were received
Summary of analysis report:summary of findings from the consultation process
Index to analysis report: index to findings from the consultation processThe Poll Tax in New Zealand: A Research Paper by Nigel Murphy (Red book)
Poll tax book launch: A second edition of "The Poll-tax in New Zealand: A Research Paper" was launched by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter at a Chinese New Year function at Parliament on 11 February 2003
Poll tax book order form: The Poll Tax in New Zealand: a research paper (2nd edition) by Nigel Murphy is available for purchase nowConsultation process
Consultation process: Outline of the process currently being undertaken
Have your say: Submissions on a form of reconciliation that would be appropriate to and of benefit to the Chinese community closed on Sunday, 5 January 2003
Submissions closing date: submissions on a form of reconciliation that is appropriate to and of benefit to the Chinese community closed on Sunday, 5 January 2003Advisory team
Advisory team appointments: notification of appointments to the advisory team that will work with the Office of Ethnic Affairs and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on reconciliation proposals
Advisory team establishment: outline of the role of the advisory team that will work with the Office and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on reconciliation proposals and process for selecting team membersCommunity meetings
Community meeting report: An interim report on the consultation round with Chinese early settlers who paid the poll tax and ther descendants
Wellington Chinese community meeting report: Report from the second consultation meeting with the Wellington Chinese community on 17 October 2002.
Presentation to Wellington Chinese Community Meeting: The Office of Ethnic Affairs presentation to Wellington Chinese community meeting participants in October 2002. This paper is in Microsoft Powerpoint format, file size 432 kb
Presentation to Chinese Community Consultation Meetings: The Office of Ethnic Affairs presentation to participants during the first community consultation round in May 2002. This paper is in Microsoft Powerpoint format, file size 747 kbFormal apology
Formal Apology: Background to formal apology, including Ministers' speeches, press releases and related documentsBackground
Cabinet Papers: The Minister for Ethnic Affairs has directed the Office of Ethnic Affairs to post the Cabinet paper and minute on the Apology on its website. This page gives you access to the Cabinet paper and minute on the Apology. These papers are released consistent with the Official Information Act 1982
History on the poll tax in New Zealand: Summary of the poll tax in New Zealand, restrictions on immigration and supporting documents
Poll tax frequently asked questions: A number of frequently asked questions relating to the poll tax in New Zealand
Radio New Zealand Insight documentary: A radio documentary first aired on 19 May 2002 about the poll tax in New Zealand, the apology and the consultation processOnline poll tax records
Online poll tax records: This page gives you access to search a database of poll tax entries of Chinese arrivals to Wellington from 1888 to 1930Interesting links
Interesting links: Links to related websites and information of interest to the Chinese community in New Zealand

Follow Up to Formal Apology to Chinese Community

Dunedin meeting report

Monday 6 May 2002, 7:00 – 10:00pm
Otago & Southland Branch NZCA Hall, 279 King Edward Street, Dunedin
Peter Chin
No set interpreter
Peter Chin
Ministerial representative/s and government officials
Hon David Benson Pope MP Dunedin SouthNicola White Policy Advisor DPMCSonja Rathgen Director OEANigel Murphy Researcher and Historian OEAVanessa Traill Consultation Co-ordinator OEACraig Nicholson Community Advisor OEA
70-80 peopleNotes
James Ng spoke to the meeting giving his perspective on the apology and its implications
Discussion and questions were taken from the floor
There was debate about details of history, and clarification was given about the poll tax and the bond that was required to be paid on behalf of the war refugees in 1939-1941
The focus was on local initiatives, especially on historic sites relating to the early Chinese gold-miners, rather than on language, history and research
Radio New Zealand was present and taped the proceedings
A number of people had travelled from as far away as Queenstown and Oamaru to attend
The majority of attendees were descendants. One attendee was a poll tax payer.Discussion groupsThe meeting did not form separate discussion groups.Issues raised
The composition of the consultative team, how the members were chosen and whether they were descendants
Adequate representation of Otago/Southland and the heavy representation from Wellington
It was explained that the team was an interim group and had been involved in advising on the process of the consultations and the information that was disseminated. There were a large number of Wellington people on the initial group as many Chinese associations have their national headquarters in Wellington. At the end of the round of consultative meetings another team more regionally representative would be formed to compile a report to government reflecting the outcomes of the meetings and the wishes of the poll tax descendant community
The need for wider and more inclusive consultation with the community was emphasised
The need to strictly limit the consultations to people who are poll tax descendants was forcefully stated.Suggested outcomes
History, recording and preserving Chinese New Zealand history, including displays, exhibitions and publications
Publish or make more accessible public records and archives relating to Chinese New Zealanders
Chinese New Zealand archive-research centre, possibly as part of National Library of New Zealand
Create an historic village based on Lawrence Chinatown
Maintenance and teaching of the Cantonese language via funding for community schools and introduction of the language as an option in school
Physical memorial such as a Chinese garden in Dunedin
Restoration of Chinese heritage sites in Otago, to tie in with tourism in the region
Preservation of Chinese cemeteries and gravestones in Otago-Southland
Immigration - ease entry conditions for descendants still living in China.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Old Chinese Cemetery Uncovered in Los Angeles

Here's the link to an LA Times article on the recent discovery of an old Chinese cemetery in Los Angeles:,0,923578,print.story?coll=la-home-headlines It appears that the cemetery contained the gravesites of the early Chinese immigrants to the Los Angeles area around the turn of the century, and most all were males.

Reminders of Bigotry UnearthedRemains found at an MTA excavation site shed light on a time rife with anti-Chinese bias.By David Pierson, Times Staff WriterMarch 15, 2006 They could not marry, they could not own property, and they performed the most undesirable jobs: ditch diggers, canal builders, house boys. They were banned from most shops and public institutions and were the target of racist violence that went unpunished.Los Angeles was home to an estimated 10,000 Chinese in the late 19th century — almost all men who came to America to work on the railroads and ended up in desperate straits, crowded into a filthy Chinese ghetto near what is now Union Station. recent discovery by a new generation of railway workers building the extension of the Gold Line commuter rail line through Boyle Heights has unearthed this dark but largely forgotten period in Los Angeles history.Last summer, workers found the skeletal remains of 108 people just outside the Evergreen Cemetery, one of the city's oldest and grandest burial sites.A few weeks ago, the MTA told a community review board, which includes members of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, that the agency's archeological study found that the majority of the remains were from people of Asian descent.Three-quarters of the remains were adults and most were male. The finding supports the belief among Chinese American historians that the bones belonged to Chinese male sojourners who died a century ago at a time when immigration laws sought to reduce the Chinese population by prohibiting Chinese women from entering the country.The workers also found rice bowls, jade bracelets, Chinese burial bricks, Asian coins and opium pipes.Historians have long believed that there was a potter's field for Chinese workers in Boyle Heights but did not know precisely where. The last known public record of the cemetery was from the 1920s.The discovery has generated excitement within the Chinese American community along with concern about the way the MTA has handled the find.Irvin Lai, one of the historical society's longest-serving members, said the remains belonged to men who lived at a time when Chinese were relegated to the lowest rung of society."They treated the Chinese just as bad when they were dead. They were treated like animals," said Lai, 78, who grew up in the pre-civil rights era and said the memory of being denied service at barbershops or restaurants because of his ethnicity still stings.In the late 19th century, racial intolerance toward the Chinese was particularly heightened because some whites believed the Chinese were taking jobs away from them.Most of the Chinese did not speak English. Politicians and newspapers seized on the anti-Chinese sentiments. The Los Angeles Times described denizens of the Chinese ghetto as "Celestials" and as the "the pig-tainted fraternity.""While the Chinaman is a natural-born thief and scoundrel, he is also the most superstitious of God's creatures," a Times reporter wrote in a breathless 1887 travelogue of the ghetto.Members of the historical society say they believe the excavation site is part of a Chinese cemetery that disappeared sometime after the 1920s, when development obscured most of the graves' whereabouts. It dates from 1877, when the owners of the nearby Evergreen Cemetery gave the city five acres in which to bury indigents.Chinese were not permitted to be buried in Evergreen Cemetery, where some of the city's most prominent early families — such as the Van Nuyses, Lankershims, Hollenbecks and Workmans — were laid to rest. Chinese were given a corner of the city potter's field next to the indigents.But unlike the white indigents, who were buried at no charge, the Chinese had to pay $10 for a burial, a substantial fee for that era, Lai said.Lai said he found what could be the last official acknowledgment of the Chinese cemetery at the Los Angeles County Hall of Records.The document, dated June 19, 1923, is from the superintendent of the county Department of Charities, Norman R. Martin, to the secretary of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Chan Kai Sing.Martin wrote that the potter's field where the Chinese were buried was badly crowded.Recently your people established a new Chinese cemetery on East 1st Street, and it would be highly desirable if the bodies buried in the county cemetery could be transferred to your new location," he said.Martin said he wanted the chamber to move the remains and offered compensation of $2 per body even after acknowledging that each grave cost the Chinese $10. "The idea being that you would move all of the bodies as fast as practicable," Martin wrote.The letter said there were 902 Chinese buried in the vicinity of what is now the MTA excavation site, at Lorena and 1st streets.Lai found a list of some of the dead buried at the old Chinese cemetery. In cursive writing were hundreds of Chinese names, such as Wong Wah Mow, who at 46, was killed after he was "shot in heart" in a homicide. Tom Ping, 51, died from opium poisoning. Wah Lee, 51, committed suicide by hanging.While historians said they hope the find will broaden their understanding of the sojourners' lives, some expressed anger at the way they learned about it.The historical society and other Chinese American community leaders have accused the MTA of concealing the fact that the bones were of Chinese immigrants for months so that it would not delay the extension of the Gold Line, a long-anticipated $898-million project that will connect Union Station to East L.A."It's a slap in the face," said Ken Chan, president of the historical society. "These men weren't respected when they were buried, and it's like they're not being respected now."The MTA denies that it held back information. Once it found the bones, officials said they shipped them to an archeologist for study.They said they found no reason to halt construction after all the remains and artifacts had been removed. Once the archeology firm concluded the bones could be Chinese, they said they immediately informed the historical society.MTA officials said that if they had known earlier they were dealing with a predominantly Chinese grave site, they would have contacted members of the Chinese community, such as the historical society, and asked for their help."Everything would have been directed differently if we knew we were dealing with a preponderance of Chinese remains" earlier, said Carl Ripaldi, the MTA project's environmental specialist. "We realize the sensitivity of the issues here. We have to be very sensitive to all people, all cultures and customs."In recent weeks, the historical society has been helping with the identification of some artifacts. It is unlikely it will find relatives in the U.S. today because of the prohibition of Chinese women during that era."These guys probably had a friend or two bury them," Lai said. "They probably threw wine over the grave, burned some incense and paper money, and if they were lucky, had a eulogy read with some kind words."Lai wants the MTA to re-inter the bodies at Evergreen Cemetery — the place where at the time of their death they were not allowed to enter let alone be buried. That decision will ultimately be up to the MTA and the community review board, which includes Lai and Boyle Heights residents.Lai said: "We need to give them a dignified burial with elected officials" present.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

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Forced Out

Producer: Corita Gravitt
KVIE-TV Production

The date was February 19, 1942. Barely two months after the outbreak of war with Japan, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs into law Executive Order 9066-a document ordering citizens of Japanese ancestry living along the United States west coast to be rounded up and forcibly moved to internment camps across the country. The government feared that individuals could collaborate with the enemy.

While some Japanese Americans were given the option of remaining free if they moved to the Midwest or east coast, most were interned: 120,000 of them. Forced to close their businesses, their homes. Forced out, taking with them only what they could carry.

According to Chris Komai at the Japanese American National Museum, "For a lot of these issei immigrants their entire lives had been spent constructing these businesses and to have this indefinite sentence put upon them, I mean someone who has been convicted of a felony of breaking and entering or stealing or something like that, they know when they're going to get out of prison, but these people never had an idea."

After World War Two ended in 1945, interned Japanese Americans were released from the camps and returned to what was left of their former lives in California. The struggle to rebuild is the focus of this program and web site: personal stories of hope, honor, perseverance.

The cost of internment in terms of dollars lost to Japanese Americans is difficult to assess, say scholars such as Wayne Maeda at Sacramento State University. Professor Maeda says that estimates range from $300 million to $600 million using 1980 valuations (when an initial study was completed). But in today's dollars, the amount lost could total in the billions.

This documentary probes the impact of incarceration of Japanese American business people during World War II.

Local PBS Broadcast
2001, 26 minutes, documentary


Forbidden City, U.S.A.

"DELIGHTFUL! It brims over with nostalgia for a more glamorous and innocent showbusiness era, yet is a commentary on racial stereotyping and on the insidiousness of discrimination."
-- Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

San Francisco's internationally renowned Forbidden City was the nation's premiere all-Chinese nightclub in the swinging 1930s and the big band era of the '40s. Arthur Dong's FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A., through original footage and interviews with the performers in later years, looks at the history of Charlie Low's nightclub and some of the most accomplished and spirited musicians and dancers of their time. Meet the "Chinese Fred Astaire," the "Chinese Sophie Tucker," and the "Chinese Sally Rand"-just a few of the talented performers that take you back to a nostalgic era. FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A. looks beyond the cartoon characters of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway musical, Flower Drum Song (which was loosely based on the Forbidden City nightclub), to show a generation of Asian American pioneers who fought cultural barriers and racism to pursue their love of American song and dance.

The Collector's Edition DVD presents previously unseen archival and original footage with galleries showing over 200 pieces of fascinating memorabilia and photos from the era.

CINE Golden Eagle
Blue Ribbon, Best Ethnic Studies Film, American Film Festival
Gold Apple Award, Best Ethnic Studies Film, National Educational Film Festival
Best Documentary of the Decade (shared award) Hawaii International Film Festival
2002, 76 minutes including bonus footage, documentary

NZ Chinese

Wednesday February 13, 7:34 PM
NZ Chinese say government apology begins healing process
By Graeme Peters
Photo: ReutersClick to enlarge
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealanders of Chinese origin said on Wednesday a Lunar New Year apology from the government was a first step in healing old wounds caused by past discrimination and wrongs towards their ancestors.
The government apologised on Tuesday to the South Pacific country's Chinese population for charging an expensive entry tax, begun in the 19th century and lasting till 1930, imposing much hardship on Chinese immigrants.
New Zealand Chinese Association president Goh Kuan Meng said Chinese -- representing about two percent of New Zealand's 3.9 million people -- had waited years for the apology and it was well received.
"It is a recognition of what happened in the past and trying to put it right," Goh told Reuters.
Chinese immigrants were forced to pay up to 100 pounds -- NZ$13,912 ($5,500) in today's money -- on arrival. The legislation for the tax was in place until 1944 but the government stopped collecting the money in 1930.
Goh said a vein of resentment still ran through some families about the tax and other discriminatory practices enshrined in laws that were designed to keep Chinese -- dubbed the "yellow peril" in the press during the 19th century -- out of New Zealand in favour of white Europeans.
Prime Minister Helen Clark issued the apology at a dinner marking the Chinese Lunar New Year, saying that while past New Zealand governments might have acted within the law of the time, their actions were unacceptable by today's standards.
Ester Fung, an association branch president, said the apology was "a very good first step".
Five of Fung's ancestors paid the tax, despite one of them, her grandmother, being born in Australia's New South Wales state.
Her grandfather was forced to wear a bucket on his head when he went hawking fruit and vegetables door to door for protection from stone-throwing anti-Chinese New Zealanders, she told dinner guests.
Chinese migrants were originally invited to come to New Zealand's South Island in the 1860s to work gold prospects abandoned by other miners.
But as they moved around the goldfields they suffered discrimination from Europeans, were often forced to work in the worst, least productive areas, and in some settlements were forced by local regulations to stay outside town limits.
Research prepared on behalf of New Zealand's Chinese Association said New Zealand governments received 308,080 pounds during the period the tax was levied.
David Wong, a third generation New Zealander who strove for 12 years with successive governments to extract the apology, said past wrongs against early immigrants had been suppressed for too long in New Zealand and the issue needed to be exposed.
"It (the apology) certainly allows us to openly discuss this which in the past people have felt very reluctant to do," Wong told Reuters.
"This is part of what we call the healing process, and if we use that in a positive way, a lot of good will come out."

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Print in NZ

The 19th century
The 19th century was the era of the Chinese goldseekers in Otago and on the West Coast. They were rural male Cantonese who first came over from Victoria, Australia, and later direct from China. Initially, in 1865, they were responding to invitations to rework the Otago goldfields; from there they spilled over to the West Coast. Their numbers reached a peak of over 5,000 between 1874-81. Despite their peasant background they were intrepid and determined adventurers. Sojourners by choice, their competitiveness, different racial origin and culture generated opposition. Their aim was to save about 100 pounds to take home to China; their strategy to adapt only as much as necessary until they left. They survived by their cooperative groupings of kinsfolk, clan and counties of origin.
The next wave, who came from the late 1880s, also established themselves throughout New Zealand in small businesses, capable of supporting families. From the turn of the century this led to the growing wish, despite the 'white New Zealand' policy, to bring their families here out of danger.
Although generally illiterate, they valued learning and even printed paper itself. Alexander Don described, for instance, how his Chinese teacher collected scraps of lettered paper to be burned later with ceremony ( New Zealand Presbyterian, 1 July 1884, p.3). However, taking into account their illiteracy, their relatively small, scattered number and their temporary outlook here, it is not surprising that the Chinese print culture in 19th-century New Zealand was limited. They wrote no books and founded no newspapers. What local print culture existed was mostly hand-executed and little has survived. In fact, what is known about Chinese life in New Zealand in those days derives largely from the writings and photography of Don, who was Presbyterian missionary to them from 1879 to 1913. Don's papers are chiefly to be found in Dunedin, in the Hocken and Knox College libraries, and in private hands. Other important collections include those of G.H. McNeur (Hocken Library), and of James Ng. For comprehensive bibliographies of sources and authorities, see James Ng, Windows on a Chinese Past (vols.1 and 4 1993, vol.2 1995).
Their only commercial printing in this country was by means of lithography. The one example that has survived (in the Otago Settlers Museum) is the lithographed minutes of the meeting of the Cheong Shing Tong (Poon Fah Association), held after the sinking of S.S. Ventnor in 1902, which resulted in the loss of 499 exhumed bodies being returned to China.
Of handwritten Chinese, rather more survives. However, it should be understood that unless otherwise stated, the examples given in the course of this brief survey represent a small selection from a more comprehensive documentation compiled by James Ng. James Shum, a miner, wrote autobiographical accounts for both Don and G.H. McNeur. Fragments remain among Don's writings, and are reproduced in Jean McNeur's thesis 'The Chinese in New Zealand' (1930). The papers of Benjamin Wong Tape OBE, JP, were deposited in the Hocken Library, Dunedin, by his son in 1969.
Correspondence in Chinese must have been plentiful enough. The Statistics of New Zealand (1866) record a total of 534 letters from Hong Kong in the Otago mail. The texts of a few family letters have survived and been printed: for example, Don printed translations of four family letters, including one from the leper Kong Lye to his mother ( New Zealand Presbyterian, 1 October 1884). A boxful of envelopes, some containing letters regarding the Cheong Shing Tong's first exhumation (completed in 1884) was found in a shed in Sew Hoy's store, Dunedin, in 1992. The envelopes had fascinating chop imprints, in various artistic forms enclosing the name. In his diary Don has described other Chinese letters; he also collected 'queer addresses' from mail sent to him by the Post Office to decipher (see his Diary 1899-1907, items 334, 408 and 442, etc.).
Legal or quasi-legal documents had their mixture of English and Chinese. Among these were petitions, such as that addressed in 1878 to the Otago Provincial Council concerning goldfield Warden R. Beetham's alleged unfairness. The petition was written in English, but the subscription list of names was in Chinese (National Archives, Wellington).
Notices, official and business, are another class of document. Don translated notices in Chinese, including rules of the anti-opium Cherishing Virtue Union ( New Zealand Presbyterian, 1 December 1888). A bilingual official notice on the Mines Act of 1877 is referred to in the Dunstan Times of 27 January 1882. Reward posters were printed in 1880 in both English and Chinese for information leading to the arrest of the murderer of Mrs Mary Young (a European)—copies are in the Naseby Museum and National Archives, Wellington.
Pakapoo lottery tickets are plentiful in Otago museums, as are Chinese coins, but appear to have been printed in China—illustrated in Windows on a Chinese Past (vol.1 1993).
Handwritten and stamped calling cards in red were presented at the time of the Chinese New Year ( New Zealand Presbyterian, 2 April 1883, p.184). None of the cards seem to have survived, and the New Year custom of leaving visiting cards has ceased in New Zealand.
The Chinese goldseekers attached red paper inscriptions bearing felicitous phrases and poetical couplets on walls, doors, shrines, meat safes, and in any auspicious place in a house. They may be seen in Don's photographs. Again, none have survived. Gambling dens had white paper inscriptions. See for instance, Don's Annual Inland Tour 1896-97 (1897).
Wood provided a common alternative writing surface to paper, in the shape of wooden signs, commemorative plaques and presentation pairs of vertical boards bearing poetical couplets, often with the donors' names carved in smaller characters. For example, living memory recalls the walls of the Poon Fah Association's Lawrence Joss House hung with flags and wooden plaques. Don similarly described the Round Hill Joss House interior in the New Zealand Presbyterian, 1 August 1890. John Ah Tong carved for the Queenstown Anglican Church in 1874, and the presence of other Chinese carvers in the goldfields is confirmed by Don and in census records. Probable examples of their work include two large yellow on red and two small yellow on black vertical Chinese boards, each pair bearing poetical couplets from the Poon Fah Association's Lawrence Joss House, and now in the Otago Settlers Museum; also the Chinese Church sign, originally hung outside the Dunedin Chinese Mission Church in Walker, now Carroll Street, 1897, and since transferred to the outside of the Dunedin Chinese Presbyterian Church in Howe St.
The Chinese goldseekers also used cloth banners with embroidered or stitched-on characters, ordered from China. One such work is the long horizontal banner in Hanover St Baptist Church in Dunedin, presented by its Chinese class at the turn of the century.
The only known 'Chinese' newspaper produced in New Zealand last century was Don's weekly Kam lei Tong I Po. Kam lei Tong was the rented premises in which Don preached at Riverton, and 'I Po' means newspaper. The first issue appeared on 12 May 1883; it seems to have been a handwritten sheet which he pasted up on the Round Hill Mission Church. Don must have had the help of his Chinese teacher. The latest mention of it is in October 1883, when Chinese condemned its information on the Sino-French War as contrary to their own, derived from overseas newspapers and letters, which they also pasted up ( New Zealand Presbyterian, 1 September 1883).
Other overseas Chinese newspapers and magazines circulated in New Zealand in the 1880s and 1890s, including the daily China Mail; the weekly Chinese Australian Herald; the monthlies Review of the Times, Missionary Review; and the Chinese Illustrated News, the Chinese Globe Magazine—these two printed in Shanghai; the dailies Kwang Pao and the Wa Tz Yat Pao. These titles are mentioned in contemporary issues of the Christian Outlook and the New Zealand Presbyterian, and in Don's diaries. Copies of some of the above magazines are among that part of the Chinese library of the Dunedin Chinese Presbyterian Church which was deposited c.1984 in the Hocken Library.
Surviving books in Chinese, printed in China, from the period include two almanacs in the Graham Sinclair collection. The Sinclair farm was next to the Adams Flat Chinese Camp. A book on acupuncture was found in Sue Him's orchard shed in Alexandra (now in the Alexandra Museum). The literate used to read to the illiterate, and their books were read 'till they fall to pieces' ( New Zealand Presbyterian, 1 January 1885). Novels read at Round Hill, according to Don, included: Koo sz king lam (Ancient matter—a forest of gems); and 'Vast, vast is the mist on the ocean, while the concubine is buried in sadness'. Classics at Round Hill and elsewhere, according to Don ( New Zealand Presbyterian, 1 October 1884), included the Saam tsz king (Three character classic), Saam Kwok, Lit Kwok, History of the feudal states, and Mencius with commentary. The Chinese pharmacopoeia was used at Round Hill, according to the same source.
In 1881 Walter Paterson was distributing the New Testament in Wanli or conventional Chinese script or in English, matched line for line by colloquial Cantonese, transcribed into roman script by Paterson and a Dunedin Chinese named Mattai. No doubt such copies were more for the use of Europeans reading to the Cantonese goldseekers. No copies are known to have survived, though Don noted the wide distribution of these bibles. Paterson also published bilingual religious tracts, two of which are preserved in Knox College Library.
Don himself printed three bilingual booklets of hymns (Knox College Library). His most important legacy, however, was his handwritten notebook 'Roll of the Chinese in New Zealand 1883-1913'. It records in Chinese and English the 3628 Chinese Don met from 1896-1913 and, in English only, some others he knew from 1883. Because Don entered names and villages of origin in Chinese, and brief individual histories in English, most of those named can be identified. For example, Ng confirmed from the Roll much of the movements of the Ngs from Taishan county in this period. The notebook is reproduced in Ng, Windows on a Chinese Past (vol.4 1993).
New Zealand has probably the finest cache of photographs on the Chinese goldseekers and their origins, thanks to Don, whose hobby was photography. Some are bilingually labelled. His collection was dispersed, but is now largely reassembled in the Hocken and Knox College libraries, Dunedin.
Gravestones may also be included as print culture. Chinese examples were usually inscribed in Chinese, bearing the name, county and village of origin, and the time and date of death. The earlier gravestones dated the year by the emperor's reign. Sometimes the name and date of death were added in roman script. The Chinese also used wooden grave markers, but none remain, and many gravestones have been vandalised or illegally removed. The last Chinese to die on the goldfields were probably buried in paupers' unmarked graves, but many others are unaccounted for. The Dunedin Genealogical Society has drawn and recorded in a booklet the Chinese gravestones in the Southern Cemetery, Dunedin. Mrs B. Hayes has photographed the Cromwell Chinese graves (private collection), and Len Smith likewise those at Naseby (Hocken Library).
All the Otago museums have items relating to their local Chinese, including items bearing print or script. The West Coast museums are poor by comparison. The most comprehensive collection of Chinese goldseekers' memorabilia is that built by Graham Sinclair. The bulk of this collection, which includes musical instruments, mining rights documents, photographs, two almanacs, newspaper articles, all to do with the Adams Flat goldfield, has been donated to the Museum of New Zealand, Wellington.
The 20th century
Over the last 100 years the Chinese in New Zealand have undergone a remarkable change in fortune. Starting the century as a besieged underclass, Chinese are now ending the century as a group of diverse and healthy communities. Their story, and the aspirations of successive generations of Chinese New Zealanders, can be traced through the surprisingly active print culture maintained throughout this century.
Historically, 20th century Chinese New Zealand print culture can be divided into three periods, 1900-49, 1949-87 and post-1987.
Given the hardship faced by Chinese in that first period, it is remarkable anything was published at all. A small and transient community, labour-intensive occupations, and the need to support families back in China were all obstacles to the time-consuming and expensive process of publishing. The other obstacle was the physical difficulty of printing Chinese characters. A characteristic of pre-1949 publications was that they were almost all hand-written and cyclostyled.
What also particularly marks this period is the total focus on mainland Chinese politics. At this time the community mostly comprised urban-dwelling males (3,374 at its peak in 1926) who, marginalised and beset by racism, dreamed of returning to their families in China with enough money to secure a comfortable living. To this end, politics in the troubled homeland was at the forefront of community concerns with political groups in New Zealand echoing those in China itself.
From 1900 to 1915, five Chinese New Zealand political organisations were set up. One was the Chinese Association founded in 1909 by the official Chinese consul to New Zealand to undermine the anti-government activities of the other community organisations. During this time it was common for political factions in China to court overseas Chinese communities for the funds they could generate. The Chinese Association's annual report published in 1911 became this century's first publication in Chinese. Printed in China, it contained the Association's aims, activities and names of founding members. Its purpose was to gain support for the Chinese government.
How successful it was is academic as the government was overthrown that same year by the republican revolution. China quickly fell into a long period of civil disorder with the new government in Beijing and the rival Nationalists in Guangdong vying for control of the country. The community here mirrored these rivalries, with active organisations representing both sides.
The Nationalist Koumintang (KMT) enjoyed less New Zealand support but was more sophisticated in its activities. In 1915 it recruited a full-time branch organiser and in 1921 the KMT newspaper, the Man Sing Times, became New Zealand's first Chinese-language newspaper. Published in Wellington every ten days, the paper advocated support for the KMT cause in China. It was handwritten and cyclostyled with a separately printed full-colour cover. Lack of funds caused its demise after only one year. The Auckland KMT branch also tried its hand at publishing in 1930, issuing the Min Hok Times of which only one issue is known to have been published.
The community's political differences were set aside at the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in 1937 with all flocking to the common cause. The same year a new New Zealand Chinese Association (NZCA) started its Wellington-based New Zealand Chinese Weekly News. It contained war news and reports of NZCA war effort activities. It also exercised social control on the community. During the war years the NZCA instituted a compulsory percentage of income levy on all able-bodied male workers. Money from the levy went to the Chinese Relief Fund and lists of defaulters were printed in the paper. Advertising revenue also went to the Chinese Relief Fund. A similar paper, the Q Sing Times, was set up in 1938 by the NZCA Auckland branch. Like the Man Sing Times, both NZCA papers were handwritten and cyclo-styled, produced by full-time professional journalists and continued to the end of the war in 1946.
The postwar period brought dramatic changes to New Zealand's Chinese community. Discrimination eased and in 1947 Fraser's Labour Government allowed the wives and families of long-time residents to join them in New Zealand. Many had been separated for 20 years or more. In addition, the dream of returning to China to live was marred by the Chinese Communist revolution in 1949. For better or worse New Zealand was now considered home. These changes, and those wrought by the needs of the next two generations of local-born Chinese, were again reflected in the community's print culture from 1949 to 1987.
The early part of this period was marked by a number of ephemeral publications usually serving very specific purposes. County groups (welfare and support groups set up by migrants from particular geographic areas in rural Guangdong) had been active since the 1920s. After the war, however, they began publishing their aims, constitutions and histories (Poon Yu and Seyip Associations, 1945, 1947). For the first time the NZCA published the proceedings of its AGM (1947), possibly to assert its continued post-war relevance. Other community issues were also reflected in print. Now that it was no longer possible to send young people back to China for their education, Chinese language and culture maintenance became a priority. Schools were set up to teach language and culture to locally-born children. One , the Wellington Chinese Free School, founded in 1957, published its own magazine in 1958 with material written by parents, teachers and students.
The political situation overseas, however, continued to haunt the community. Communists on the mainland and the Nationalists in Taiwan vied for overseas Chinese support. Rivalry was most intense in the decade following the 1949 Communist victory. Pro-Nationalist groups, supported by the majority in the community, issued publications such as the New Zealand Chinese Monthly Special of 1950 and the Kui Pao/Chinese News Weekly of 1951 which actively supported the Taiwan position. The mainland Communist cause was championed by the New Zealand Chinese Cultural Society which published a monthly newsletter as well as several one-off publications such as a 1958 May Day special. The Cultural Society's one-off papers were unusual in that, unlike other cyclostyled publications of the period, these publications were typed on a Chinese typewriter and printed by photolithography.
As Chinese came to identify as New Zealanders, overseas issues gradually receded. One publication that spanned this entire transition period (from 1949-1972) was the New Zealand Chinese Growers' Monthly Journal. Published by the Dominion Federation of New Zealand Chinese Commercial Growers (originally set up at the request of Fraser's Labour Government to ensure New Zealand could maintain its supply of produce to American Forces in the Pacific), the journal also had a full-time editor who used a Chinese offset printing press which cost the Federation £4,000. Although supposedly restricting itself to agricultural topics, it soon became the de facto voice of the community, focusing for the first time on local issues and stories. This was especially so after 1960 when the government, as part of its general assimilation policy, insisted all foreign news be dropped from the journal. The issue dated 30 June 1960 carries an account of the forceful ministerial letter which suggested the journal drop its overseas news.
Apart from the Growers' Journal, activity during the 1960s and 1970s was limited to small-scale newsletters mostly written in English, by then the main language of Chinese New Zealanders. Amongst them were church newsletters like the bilingual Wellington-based Chinese Anglican (196?- ), community newsletters like Auckland Chinese Hall (1961- ) and sporting publications like the Wellington Chinese Sports and Cultural Centre Newsletter (1974- ).
A real revolution in print culture came in 1987 when, in line with economic internationalism, the Labour Government opened the door to a fresh wave of Chinese immigrants. Between 1987 and 1996, when public outcry forced the door shut again, the Chinese population rose from 19,506 to around 82,000. The majority of the new migrants, who settled mostly in Auckland, were urbanised, sophisticated Taiwanese and Hong Kong Chinese. Within three years of their arrival three Auckland Chinese language papers were being published. By 1996 there were eight other Auckland papers. Included in these are the Sing Tao Daily, (formerly Weekly, 1989- ), a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based media empire Sing Tao Holdings, and New Zealand Chinese Weekly (1994- ), initiated by the New Zealand Herald but sold in March 1997. Such big-business involvement demonstrates the economic power the new migrants are seen to have. At present all but one paper ( Hwa Hsia, the magazine of Taiwanese immigrants) are being published by Hong Kong new migrants. Published weekly, the papers are typeset using standard Chinese computer software and contain local and overseas news along with useful information on New Zealand customs and processes. The papers vary in quality but the majority tend to be lightweight in content and carry a large amount of advertising.
More specialist publications include the annual Chinese Handbook and Chinese-English Business Directory (both begun 1992), providing goods and services information, New Zealand Chinese Magazine (1992- ), containing stories on Hong Kong pop and movie culture, and the New Zealand Federation of Chinese Medical Science Journal (1995- ), catering to the growing number of traditional Chinese medical practitioners.
The Christchurch Chinese Monthly News (1993- ) and the Dunedin Asian Monthly News (1996- ) are the only new migrant magazines not based in Auckland. A small number of publications aimed at new migrants have been produced by the host community, including publications on crime prevention and Customs and arrival procedures. Most, if not all, were produced at the request of the migrants themselves.
Of course, the new wave of migrants did more than cause a revolution in print culture. Public outcry over Asian immigration and a rise in anti-Asian feeling in the wider community forced a response from the English-language publications of the established Chinese community. Although small in number, publications like the Wellington Chinese Association Newsletter (1989- ), began seriously addressing issues of racism and identity. In 1994 a publication aimed at the wider community was initiated. Chinese Voice (1994- ), a six-weekly supplement in Wellington's community paper City Voice, carries news, entertainment and commentary aimed at improving the wider community's understanding of Chinese New Zealanders.
The commentary related above shows how each generation of Chinese New Zealanders has used the printed word to fulfil its needs and articulate its aspirations. Supplied free to a tiny readership, the publications maintained a precarious existence. Their very existence, however, particularly in the early period, shows how passionately the community felt about the issues its publications addressed. Primarily, all arose out of a need to convey vital information and, with several exceptions in the modern period, they were not meant to provide leisure or entertainment. The utilitarian nature of Chinese New Zealand print culture, even today, may be seen as a reflection of the struggle the community has undergone to survive in this country.
Further research and access
Research into Chinese New Zealand print culture in the 20th century is still in its infancy. Charles Sedgwick made passing reference to several publications in his 1982 PhD thesis on the social history of the Chinese community, and an article on the Man Sing Times by Manying Ip was published in the 10 May 1990 issue of Sing Tao Weekly. A thesis on the subject is currently being researched by an MA student at Victoria University. Besides this, little or nothing has been written. A major difficulty for researchers in this field is that few of the original publications survive in public institutions. Even the Chinese language newspapers currently published in Auckland and Christchurch are not being comprehensively collected. Many of the older publications are incomplete or only known through references. Much of the material from the 1950s mentioned in this essay only came to light in the collection of material donated to the Alexander Turnbull Library in 1996 by Chan Lai-hung. Included in the collection is an almost complete set of the New Zealand Chinese Weekly News, which ran from 1937 to 1946. Prior to this only one issue was publicly available. While other institutions have small holdings of Chinese New Zealand publications, the major source of 20th century Chinese New Zealand publications is the Alexander Turnbull Library, which holds complete and almost complete runs of every serial publication mentioned in this essay as well as monographs and supporting manuscript material. It is hoped that further research into this area will be undertaken in the near future