The Chinese Question in Australia
In the present grave emergency, we appeal, as natives of China and as citizens of Victoria, to the reason, the justice, the right feeling, and the calm good sense of the British population of Australia, not to sanction an outrage upon the law of nations and not to violate the treaty engagements entered into between the Government of Great Britain and the Emperor of China.
Let us remind the people of these colonies of the circumstances under which emigration from China commenced. Up to the year 1842, we lived in contented isolation from the rest of the world. The nations of Western Europe—England more particularly—said, "This shall not be." By force of arms, a treaty was extorted from the Government at Pekin, in virtue of which a certain number of Chinese ports were thrown open to British commerce. In 1844, the United States demanded and obtained similar privileges. In 1860, the English and French Governments, acting in concert, overcame the page 4 resistance which his Imperial Majesty and the chief Mandarins of the country offered to an extension of these extorted rights, and they dictated a second treaty at Pekin, which guaranteed to the people of both nations the-utmost freedom of ingress and egress, and which reciprocally bestowed upon the Chinese a similar freedom as regards the territories of France and of the British empire. In 1868, the Government of the United States concluded with the Emperor of China what is known as the "Burlingame Treaty," which assured to Americans the same access to our country which was already enjoyed by the English and French, and which—as was only just and equitable—opened the United States to Chinese immigration. And we beg it to be particularly remembered that this outflow of our population was never sought for by us. Western powers, armed with the formidable artillery with which modern science has supplied them, battered down the portals of the empire; and, having done so, insisted upon keeping them open. They said, in effect, "We must come in, and you shall come out. We will not suffer you to shut yourselves up from the rest of the world. We want to inoculate you with our enterprise, and to bring you inside the great family of nations. We wish you to read our Scriptures, which say, 'God hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth.' We are all his children. Let us draw together the ties of commercial amity, and live and do business together like friends and brethren. Throw down the barriers which have separated you for so many ages from the Aryan race; adopt our habits and profit by our example."page 5
Well, we did so. We learned that there were vast portions of the earth's surface which were almost destitute of inhabitants, and which were capable of supporting the redundant millions of Europe and Asia. Your missionaries came among us, and read from your Scriptures beautiful precepts like those of Confucius and Mencius. They spoke to us of the brotherhood of man, and told us that the foundation principle of the social religion of Englishmen was this—"Ye shall do unto others as ye would they should do unto you." And this, also, is the sentiment of our own Great Teacher. Therefore, when we heard, about five and twenty years ago, that there was a great continent nearly half as large again as China, and containing only a few hundreds of thousands of civilized people thinly scattered around the coast; that it was rich in the precious metals and very fertile; and that it was only a few weeks' sail from our own country, numbers of Chinese immigrants set out for this land of promise. They came to work, not to beg or to steal. They relied upon the friendliness and the protection of the Government of the British empire, because the convention signed at Tien-Tsin by their Excellencies Lord Elgin and Prince Kung solemnly guaranteed our countrymen free admission to all parts of the territory of Her Britannic Majesty. But the new comers relied also on the Christian principles of European settlers in Australia. We felt sure that such an enlightened people as the English, after having made war upon us for the purpose of opening China to Western enterprise, and of spreading European civilization in Eastern Asia, would eagerly welcome the arrival of some page 6 thousands of frugal, laborious, patient, docile, and persevering immigrants from the oldest empire in the world. Judge, then, of our painful dissappointment, our astonishment, and our sorrow at what followed. An encampment of Chinese was formed on a newly-found goldfield in the Ovens district, known as the Buckland. They were laborious and inoffensive men, who wished to live at peace with their British neighbours, and to pursue their avocation as gold miners quietly and orderly, like good citizens and law-fearing colonists. But what followed? They were set upon by the other diggers, chased from their claims, cruelly beaten and maltreated, their tents plundered and then burnt down. We do not think this was doing as you would be done by.
If such a thing had happened in China—if a number of English miners had been subjected to such a cruel and wanton outrage, every newspaper in Great Britain would have been aflame with indignation; your envoy at Pekin would have demanded prompt reparation and adequate compensation; and if this had not been acceded to, some men-of-war would have been ordered up to the mouth of the Pei-Ho. Our Emperor and his Mandarins would have been reminded of the solemn obligation they were under to be faithful to their treaty engagements, and they would probably have been lectured on the barbarous and scandalous conduct of those who had insulted despoiled, and maltreated peaceful and industrious foreigners. Yet no atonement was offered to the poor Chinese diggers who were violently expelled from the Buckland, who were plundered by the stronger and more numerous race; and who, in page 7 some instances, lost their lives owing to the injuries they received. We cannot help saying that proceedings of this kind are very disagreeable evidences of that brotherly love which is inculcated by your teachers of religion and your moralists, and which is also taught by our own Confucius.
Then, again, what are we to think of the strong measures which are being resorted to for the purpose of excluding Chinese sailors and stokers from steamers trading to and between Australian ports? What would be said of our own countrymen at home were they to have recourse to such acts of violence and injustice? A great part of the coasting trade of China is transacted by English vessels. The freights they earn are obtained from Chinese shippers; but none of these have ever proposed that those vessels should be manned by Chinese sailors. Might they not do so as reasonably, or as unreasonably, as Australians combine to prevent the latter from being employed in the intercolonial trade? Surely, justice is justice, right is right, and fair play is fair play, all the world over. The laws of morality do not vary with the variation in the degrees of latitude; and if it be lawful for the Englishman, with his skill, his experience, and his scientific inventions, to compete with our countrymen in China, it must be equally lawful for the Chinaman, with his inferior knowledge of western arts and inventions, to compete with Englishmen in Australia.
It cannot be denied that our countrymen have been good colonists. Had it not been for them, the cultivation of vegetables, so indispensable to the maintenance of health in a hot climate like this, page 8 would scarcely have been attempted in the neighbourhood of some of the goldfields; and the mortality of children would have been very much greater than it really has been. Lease or sell half an acre of apparently worthless land to a small party of Chinamen, and, if there is access to any kind of water or manure, they will transform it, by their system of intensive husbandry, into a most prolific garden, and will make it yield such a rapid succession of crops as will excite the astonishment and admiration of European market-gardeners. As fishermen and itinerant fishmongers, our countrymen have been equally serviceable to the community; and as hawkers of all kinds of useful wares, they are indefatigable, cheerful, obliging, and patient. Unhappily for themselves, this class of dealers is now subjected to severe rebuffs, to angry vituperation, and to threats of personal violence from many members of the working-classes, who forbid their wives to deal with them, and endeavour to wreak upon the inoffensive Chinese hawkers the animosity which is entertained against the A.S.N. Company. Surely such conduct as this is unworthy of a great, free people, arid especially of one which owes so much of the prosperity of its mother country to the fact that it has been, for many centuries past, the refuge and the asylum of foreigners flying from religious persecution and political oppression in their own countries. In this way, its woollen, crape, and silk manufactures were established by fugitives from the Netherlands and from France; and thus its hospitality to strangers has been twice blessed. It blessed those whom it welcomed to its shores, and it blessed its own industries by the arts and pro- page 9 cesses which these aliens communicated to their hosts. And if an island so small as the United Kingdom made no demur about opening its arms to all comers, and was not afraid of the competition of these exiles, but greeted them as fellow-workers, surely there is room enough in this large continent—many portions of which can never be cultivated by European labour—for some, at least, of the redundant population of China. That country is estimated to contain not much less than 2,000,000 square miles of territory, and 400,000,000 of people. Australia comprises an area of close upon 3,000,000 square miles, and it contains no more than 2,100,000 white people, and a few thousand blacks. In our own land, millions of men, women, and children—yes, millions—think of the horror and pity of it!—have died of starvation during the last year;. and, in the face of these facts, would you seek to debar us from participating in the abundance with which a bountiful Providence—or, as our Master Confucius says, the most great and sovereign God—rewards the industrious and the prudent in this country? Did man create it, or did God? And if it be His work, then can it be disputed that it is open to all who cannot obtain the means of subsistence in their own country, and who will faithfully conform to the laws of this? You do not endeavour to exclude Germans, or Frenchmen, or Italians, or Danes, or Swedes. There are men of all these nationalities here. Then why are Chinese colonists to be placed under a ban? Are we an inferior race? No one can say so who knows anything of our history, our language, our literature, our government, or our public and private life. page 10 China had reached a very high stage of civilization when Britain was peopled by naked savages. The art of printing, the use of gunpowder, and the mariner's compass were known to us centuries before they were re-invented by Europeans. We had instituted so excellent a system of government that it continued for 2,000 years without a revolution, and without occasioning the discontent which begets rebellion. Our administrative machinery is admitted to be the most complete and efficient ever organized, and all appointments to the public service are made after competitive examinations; so that merit and ability are the indispensable qualifications for office. In fact, if you will read what one of your own countrymen (Mr. Meadows) has said about the causes of the wonderful duration of the Chinese empire, the historical records of which go back 4,000 years, you will find them to be these:—1. The universal acceptance of the principle that the nation must be governed by moral agency, in preference to physical force. 2. The no less universal conviction that the services of the wisest and ablest men in the nation are essential to its good government. And, 3. The system of civil service examinations by which this result is arrived at. Can as much be said on behalf of the governments of communities which do not hesitate to look down on us as pagans and barbarians?
In the next place, ours is a well-educated people. Indeed, it is but seldom that you could discover a Chinaman incapable of reading, writing, and ciphering. Can you assert the same of all English and Irish men? Let it be remembered, also, that our people are not educated at the expense of the page 11 State, or of the municipality. Parents pay for the instruction of their own children; and the poorest person in the land would be ashamed to bring up his offspring in ignorance. All education is based on religion and morality. Pupils have to commit to memory the sublime precepts of Confucius and Mencius; and the duty of carrying them into practice is earnestly impressed upon their minds. Some of these precepts are subjoined:—
"What you do not like, when done to yourself, do not do to others."
"Benevolence is the characteristic element of humanity, and the great exercise of it is in loving relatives. Righteousness is the accordance of actions with what is right, and the great exercise of it is in honouring the worthy."
"Happy union with wife and children is like the music of lutes and harps. When there is concord among brethren, the harmony is delightful and enduring."
"Respect the old and be kind to the young. Be not forgetful of strangers and travellers."
"Honour the worthy, maintain the talented, and give distinction to the virtuous."
"If men of virtue and ability be not confided in,-a State will become empty and void."
"Benevolence is the tranquil habitation of man, and righteousness is her straight path."
"The root of the empire is in the State; the root of the State is in the family; the root of the family is in the person of its head. There are many sources, but the source of parents is the root of all others. There are many charges, but the charge of one's self is the root of all others."page 12
"If a man himself do not walk in the right path, it will not be walked in by his wife and children."
These are only a few out of thousands of wise maxims and pious precepts which are daily taught in every school throughout the length and breadth of China. Not only so, but the loftiest and wisest principles of government, of social polity, of political economy, of metaphysics and morals, of domestic regulation and personal conduct, are also inculcated at that period of life when the heart and the intellect are the most susceptible of such beneficial lessons. The young are instructed that "all things are according to heaven;" that God "confers happiness on the good, and misery on the evil;" that "the doctrines of heaven are opposed to selfishness;" that "of ten thousand evils, lewdness is the chief;" and that "of one hundred virtues, filial piety is the first."
And yet the people who are thus educated are stigmatized as "ignorant pagans" and "filthy barbarians" by persons who have never been in China: who know nothing of its moral, intellectual, and social life, and who form hasty judgments and entertain violent prejudices against its people from a very slight acquaintance with immigrants. Although we deplore as much as any fellow-colonist that immorality does exist amongst Chinese residents, at the same time we would unhesitatingly assert that it does not exist to a greater extent than amongst the European population. In fact, Mr. Hayter, the Government statist, assures us that, on an average, criminality is less prevalent amongst the Chinese than amongst the English population here.page 13
Nothing, we submit, can be move unreasonable, unjust, or undeserved, than the clamour which has been raised against the Chinese by a portion of the people of this colony; for Ave refuse to believe that that clamour expresses the opinions and feelings of the great bulk of the community. Let us put a parallel case. Let us suppose that, thirty or forty years ago, when the English nation forced us, at the point of the bayonet and the mouth of the cannon, to open our ports and harbours to British shipping, and our country to British travellers and settlers, that some of our Mandarins, who had been in the habit of reading the English newspapers forwarded to the missionaries in China, had concluded that Great Britain must be a nation of devils, because the atrocities recorded in those publications, day after day, were so horrible and revolting; and that, therefore, the British must be kept out of our country at all hazards—what would have been said? Would not those very newspapers have been loud and vehement in their condemnation of the obvious injustice of identifying the character and conduct of a whole people with those of its criminal classes? Yet this is what is being done in Australia in regard to ourselves.
* Miss Martineau's "History of the Thirty Years' Peace." Book v.
The English papers of that period would also have informed our countrymen that the people of Great Britain were in the habit of knocking down their wives, and of jumping upon them with heavy iron-shod boots upon their feet; that women were sometimes sold in the open market place for a few shillings and a pint of beer; that every article of food and wearing apparel capable of sophistication was adulterated to such an extent, that very stringent laws had to be passed for the protection of the public health; that the streets of every large town and city in the United Kingdom swarmed with women who subsisted on the wages of infamy; that the population of Great Britain was the most drunken population in the world; that the proceed- page 16 ings of its divorce courts denoted the prevalence of great depravity among all classes of society, not excepting the highest; and that the ruffianism of the roughs in the manufacturing and colliery districts was something appalling.
Now, if the Emperor of China and his chief councillors had concluded from these undeniable facts that the English were a nation of murderers, opium-eaters, slave-drivers, wife-beaters, swindlers, prostitutes, and scoundrels, how cruelly they would have wronged a whole people. Yet this is precisely what is done with respect to our own countrymen, concerning whom the utmost ignorance prevails. Read what one of your own historians—Miss Martineau—says concerning it, in 1841:—"The general notion of China was, and is, of a country dreadfully over-peopled, so that multitudes are compelled to live in boats floating about to pick up dead dogs for food; that they are tyrannized over by a Tartar government, which they would fain be rid of, and by an aristocracy which will permit no middle class; that they call foreigners barbarians, and designate Europeans by foul epithets instead of their proper names; and that their sole endeavour in regard to foreigners is to insult and mock them. Merchants of any nation, who have lived long enough in the neighbourhood of the Chinese to be qualified to speak of them, give a very different account from this. They declare that the government is, on the whole, favourable to the industry and comfort of the people; that the people are easy and contented; that the rights of property are respected, and that there is a large and wealthy middle class; that literature is the highest pursuit; that the page 17 Chinese possess a greater body of literature than Europe can show; and that nothing is known among us of its quality, as it remains Wholly unexplored; and that the notion of insulting epithets being applied to our agents, in lieu of their own names, is an utter delusion, arising from ignorance of the fact that the Chinese, having no alphabet, are obliged to express new names by the words in their language which approach nearest in sound."
The ignorance thus complained of continues to this very hour; and the vilest epithets are bestowed upon our countrymen by speakers on platforms, who know nothing Whatever about China or its people; and who condemn a whole nation on account of the vices and crimes of a small minority. Can any language be too strong to employ in protesting against such an outrageous act of injustice? Man for man, we unhesitatingly assert that our countrymen will compare favourably with any European people in morals and manners; in proof whereof refer to Hayter's statistics on crime, &c.; and that they are superior to the average Englishman in filial affection, in respect for the aged, in honesty, in cheerfulness, and in patient, plodding industry. They are free from moroseness and discontent, very good tempered, grateful for kindness, faithful to their employers, quick to learn, clever to imitate, peaceful, orderly, sober, and methodical.
* Nineteenth Century, for September, 1878.
It is objected that they do not bring their wives and sisters with them. Can it be wondered at? We have shown what scandalous treatment they received on the Buckland; and is it to be imagined _ that, when the news of this atrocity went home to China, any woman of average self-respect would expose herself to be chased through the country by a band of infuriated ruffians, and to see her children burnt to death, perhaps, in her husband's flaming tent? Treated as pariahs and outcasts by the people of this great, "free" country, the Chinamen in Victoria have hitherto had but scanty encouragement to invite their wives to accompany or to follow them. Subject to be insulted and assaulted by the "larrikins" of Australia, what Chinaman could be so destitute of consideration for the weaker sex as to render them liable to the same ignominious and contumelious treatment? Do unto us as you would We should do unto you under precisely similar circumstances. We only require, as Sir Walter Medhurst says, to be "properly understood and discreetly dealt with," in order to become permanent settlers and valuable allies in the work of developing the resources of this vast territory. And as to the dirt and squalor which are to be found in the Chinese quarters of Melbourne and other large towns, we may venture to quote the words of the writer previously referred to, and to assert that the remedy for such evils is a mere question of time and effort. "It is not so very long," he observes, "since Western people were content to exist amidst surroundings fully as wretched, filthy, and obnoxious as anything page 20 now observable in Chinese cities; and the reformation which has since proved possible in their case, gives reason to hope that the Chinese are not incapable of a similar regeneration, could similar inducements and opportunities be afforded them. A proof of what is practicable in this respect may, at this moment, be quoted in the Chinese quarter of the foreign settlement of Shanghai, where the arrangements for the public welfare, supported and aided to a great extent by the Chinese population, would do credit to many a European town."
There remains to notice one very influential cause of prejudice against our countrymen in Australia. It seems to be imagined that they will bring down the rate of wages in these colonies, to the detriment of European workmen. Is this a real or a sentimental grievance? Let us look at it all round.
That the earnings of the Chinese labourer in his native land are quite inconsiderable by comparison with the rate of wages current in Australia, is undeniable. But human nature is human nature all the world over; .and the Chinaman is just as fond of money, and just as eager to earn as much as he can, as the most grasping of his competitors. There are Irishmen in this colony who have known what it was to work for four or five shillings a week in the island they came from; but when they emigrate to Victoria, they are not content to put up with lesser wages than they find other farm hands earning.
And so it will be, after a very little time, with our own countrymen here. Living among people who have invented thousands of artificial page 21 wants, and thousands of means of gratifying them, the expenditure of the Asiatic will soon rise to the European level, because his habits and his mode of' living will approximate to those of his neighbours; and, as it is, it cannot have escaped the observation of persons who have been brought much into contact with the Chinese in Victoria, that the diet of such of them as are tolerably prosperous becomes more generous and costly in proportion to the improvement of their circumstances, and that those who marry and settle here conform to British methods of housekeeping, and are not less liberal and hospitable than their European fellow-colonists.
Now, in this broad territory there is ample room and scope for all; and there are numberless industries for which our countrymen are peculiarly fitted, and in the pursuit of which they would contribute to the prosperity and advantage of the whole community. In spite of the prejudices entertained against them in California, the evidence taken before a committee appointed by Congress to inquire into the question, proved incontestably that they had been of immense service to the country. Without Chinese labour it would have been impossible to construct and complete the Union Pacific Railway, to carry on many of the manufactories established in that State, or to obtain anything like an adequate supply of domestic servants.
In the farm, the factory, the kitchen, the workshop, and the laundry, they have proved invaluable. They have been found to be sober, assiduous, apt, docile, and praiseworthy. Their greatest enemies and calumniators were the idle, the dissolute, page 22 and the drunken; men who insisted upon receiving very high wages for working during three days of the week, and who devoted the other three to dissipation and debauchery. To such persons, the patient, plodding habits of the Chinamen, always at his post, never loafing about, never in liquor, and never plotting and caballing to drive his employer into a corner, and extort higher wages from him, were an intolerable offence. And thus our countrymen in San Francisco were cordially detested and cruelly maltreated by the "bummer," the "hoodlum," and the stump-orator. These have raised a violent outcry against the industrious and inoffensive Asiatic, and have been foremost in demanding his immediate expulsion from the country; no matter at what cost to some of its leading industries. For, exposed, as many of the Californian manufacturers are, to a severe and unqualified competition with those of the Eastern States, where pauper labour is employed, numbers of factories on the Pacific Coast must have been closed had it not been that their owners were able, by engaging American labour for the superior, and Chinese for the inferior processes, to hold their own against their rivals in the Atlantic States, who were glutting the Western market with their own unsaleable stocks.
In Mr. Hepworth Dixon's "White Conquest," he tells us how boys at play in the streets of Sacramento desert from their sports to hurl stones at our unoffending countrymen as they proceed to and from work. He says:—"The habit of looking on a yellow face as scum and filth has grown up with these lads from their cradles, just as the habit of looking on a black face used to grow up with page 23 Georgian and Virginian lads. Born in the Golden State, these hoys have seen, since they could see at all, their yellow neighbours treated like dogs—pushed, shouldered, cuffed, and kicked by every white. At home they see their Chinese servant treated as a slave. At church they hear him branded as a pagan. Never since their birth have they known a Chinee resent an insult and return a blow. Where, then, is the risk of pelting such a weak and helpless butt? The boy's father seems to take this view of the affair. Banter and argument are equally thrown away on him. John is a drudge, a waif and stray, without a public right. The child, he rather thinks, pays John a compliment by trying to crack his skull."
Such is the statement of a writer who entertains strong prejudices against our countrymen; but, nevertheless, cannot close his eyes to the fact that they are the victims of base, brutal, and cowardly usage at the hands of a great and powerful people, who prefaced their Declaration of Independence with the following impressive words:—"We hold these truths to be self-evident:that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." What an instructive commentary on these high-sounding phrases is the practical conduct of these preachers of the doctrine of equality! Our countrymen are treated by them as slaves and outcasts, and are expected to regard it as an honour when their heads are broken by the Christian American. In "the pursuit of happiness," Chinese emigrate to the comparatively unpeopled regions of the Western page 24 States, hoping to enjoy "life and liberty" in what professes to be a land of freedom, and they find themselves subjected to every kind of insult and outrage. What are they to think of your religion, your morality, and your legal enactments, which, if they do not sanction, do not, at any rate, prevent such barbarous proceedings in a civilized country?
Let us see what one of our countrymen thought of them, as indicated by a little incident recorded by Mr. Hepworth Dixon in the work previously quoted from. A gentleman in San Francisco related to him the following anecdote:—"Only the other day, in our rainy season, when the road was fifteen inches deep in Montgomery-street, a yellow chap, in fur tippet and purple satin gown, was crossing over the road by a plank, when one of our worthy citizens, seeing how nicely he was dressed—more like a lady than a tradesman, ran on the plank to meet him, and, when the fellow stopped and stared, just gave him a little jerk, and whisked him with a waggish laugh into the bed of slush. Ha! ha! You should have seen the crowd of people mocking the impudent (!) heathen Chinee as he picked himself up in his soiled tippet and satin gown! . . No white man can conceive the impudence of these Chinese. Moon-face picked himself up, shook off a little of the mire, and, looking mildly at our worthy citizen, curtseyed like a girl, saying to him in a voice that every one standing round could hear, 'You Christian; me Heathen. Good-bye.' "
Now, the Americans and the English base their religion, we believe, on the New Testament; and will any one be good enough to tell us which acted most in accordance with the precepts of your sacred page 25 book—the Christian who perpetrated such a wanton and unprovoked outrage upon a respectable stranger, or the poor "heathen," who, when he was reviled, reviled not again, and the calmness of whose well-governed temper could not be roused to passion by this dastardly and malicious assault? If acts like these are the outcome of your Christianity, let us entreat you to send no more missionaries to China for the purpose of converting or perverting our countrymen. They have their fair share of faults, but a native of Pekin or of Hang-choo would be quite incapable of such shameful conduct to a well-dressed foreigner as that which is recounted above. The Rev. W. A. Loomis, in a book entitled "Confucius and the Chinese Classics," after quoting many maxims from them relating to morals and manners, makes the following just remarks:—"No people, who, from childhood to old age are constantly drilled in the study and practice of such rules of etiquette as we have cited, can fail to possess many of the elements of gentlemen; and as we desire not to forfeit a right to that distinction ourselves, Ave should be careful not to countenance any rude or improper behaviour towards others, whatever may be the language they speak or the garments they wear." How this excellent admonition is carried out, will be seen by such incidents as the one just referred to; by the outrageous scene upon the Buckland, previously described; and by the ordinary demeanour and conduct of Europeans towards Chinese, both in America and Australia. We venture to affirm that neither Englishmen nor Americans would dare to behave in this way towards Russian immigrants. And yet these are of the same race as ourselves; only, while our page 26 people reached a high stage of civilization many centuries ago, the nomadic Tartars of the steppes have scarcely emerged from barbarism. Why is the Asiatic Mongol treated so evilly, while the European Mongol meets with courtesy and respect? Is it because the Czar of Russia can set a million of men in the field, and has a powerful navy at his hand; and because the Emperor of China, our august master, is supposed to be feeble and unwarlike? If so, must we conclude that the great Anglo-American and Anglo-Australian peoples are "cowards to the strong and tyrants to the weak?"
"The white labouring men of this country are very angry because the Chinese obtain employment which they claim belongs to white men alone, and so they hate the Chinamen, sometimes throw stones at them, sometimes strike them on the street, and constantly curse them. The Chinese people cannot return such-treatment in the same kind, lest other nations hearing of such things should ridicule the laws of this honourable country as of no use.
"To prohibit the Chinese from coming to this country is not a difficult task. Formerly his Imperial Majesty, our august Emperor, made a treaty of amity and friendship with the-Government of this honourable country, opening up commercial page 27 relations and permitting free intercommunication between the people of the two countries. This treaty is in accordance with the law of all nations. And now, if the American people do not desire the Chinese to come here, why not go to the Emperor and ask a repeal of the treaty, or why not limit the number of immigrants on each steamer to a very few? Then more would return and fewer would come, and not ten years would elapse before not a trace of the Chinamen would be left, in this great and honourable country. Would not that be well indeed? But let there be counsel and consideration. It cannot be said that Chinese labour impoverishes this country, and are not the customs paid by the Chinese a benefit to this country? Now, let the Government of the United States propose to the Government of China a repeal or change of the treaty prohibiting the people of either country from crossing the ocean, then shall we Chinese for ever remain at home and enjoy the happiness of fathers, mothers, wives, and children, and no longer remain strangers in a strange land. Then the white labourers of this country shall no longer be troubled by the competition of the Chinese, and our Chinese people no longer be subjected to the abuses and indignities now daily heaped upon them in the open streets of this so-called Christian land. If this can be accomplished, we Chinese will continually offer to the virtue of this honourable country our deepest gratitude and thanks."
We echo the language of this manifesto, and we say: "Let there be counsel and consideration." If you wish to shut out the Chinese from this part of the British empire, you are bound, by every obligation of law and justice, to do so in a just and legal manner; that is to say, by the British Government going to the Emperor of China and asking for a repeal of the existing treaty. You cannot say to him, "You must admit British subjects to trade and settle in any part of China; but we will not suffer Chinese subjects to trade and settle in any part of the British empire." If you do this, you step down from your high place among the nations of the earth, and stoop to conduct of which barbarians page 28 would be scarcely guilty. For what say your great authorities upon international law? Does not one of them declare that "the obligation of a State to render justice to all others is a perfect obligation, of strictly binding force, at all times, and under all circumstances. No State can relieve itself from this obligation, under any pretext whatever. It is equally binding upon all its rulers, officers, and citizens—in fine, upon each and every individual member composing the State or body politic." And this obligation, the illustrious Vattel asserts, "is more necessary still between nations than between individuals, because injustice has more terrible consequences in the quarrels of those powerful bodies politic, and it is more difficult to obtain redress." Now, as the same great writer remarks, "It is a settled point in natural law, that he who has made a promise to anyone has conferred upon him a real right to require the thing promised—and, consequently, that the breach of a perfect promise is a violation of another person's rights, and as evidently an act of injustice as it would be to rob a man of his property. The tranquillity, the happiness, the security of the human race wholly depend on justice—on the obligation of paying a regard to the rights of others." He fol ows up the affirmation of these self-evident truths by observing that, "as the engagements of a treaty impose, on the one hand, a perfect obligation, they produce, on the other, a perfect right. The breach of a treaty is therefore a violation of the perfect right of the party with whom we have contracted; and this is an act of injustice against him."
This, then, is the position of the Chinese in Aus- page 29 tralia, relatively to British colonists. By a treaty forced upon his Imperial Majesty, our august master, your nation compelled him to throw open the gates of his empire to the people of Western Europe. In return, you bound yourselves to reciprocity. The freedom to come and go, to trade and settle, which you insisted upon claiming for yourselves, you also accorded to the subjects of his Imperial Majesty. He has fulfilled the first part of the compact, and the trade of Great Britain with China has trebled during the last fourteen years, to say nothing of the indirect commerce transacted with that country via Singapore and Hong Kong. Well, our countrymen begin to emigrate to these colonies, and to seek employment on board of Australian vessels, in the fullest confidence that the second portion of the compact will be carried out, and they are astounded to find that its fulfilment is resisted by the subjects of Her Majesty Queen Victoria in Australia, and that we are routed and hunted down as if we were so many wild beasts. Chinamen are told—"You must not work in Australian ships or in Australian factories; you must not earn a livelihood by hawking or by handicrafts in these colonies. You must leave off cultivating gardens, and fabricating furniture, and following the industrial employments you have adopted; and you must either starve, beg, steal, or vanish."
In the name of heaven, we ask, where is your justice? Where your religion? Where your morality? Where your sense of right and wrong? Where your enlightenment? Where your love of liberty? Where your respect for international law? page 30 Which are the "pagans "—you or we? And what has become of those sublime and lofty sentiments of human brotherhood and cosmopolitan friendship and sympathy which are so often on your lips, and are proclaimed so wisely from pulpit, press, and platform?
Tsze-Kung, one of the disciples of Confucius, asked the latter on a certain occasion, "Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one's life?" The master answered, "Is not reciprocity such a word," meaning thereby what was sought by your own Great Teacher. "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them." Upon this reciprocity we take our stand. If you renounce it; if you say, "might is right, and treaties are not worth the parchment they are written on;" if you assert that this large and comparatively unoccupied portion of the earth's surface is to be fenced off from a race of people who are geographically so near to it, and who are so well adapted by nature and temperament for the cultivation of extensive regions of it, from which Europeans will gradually wither away; if you substitute arbitrary violence, hatred, and jealousy, for justice, legality, and right; it may be that you will succeed in carrying your point; it may be that a great wrong will be accomplished by the exercise of sheer force, and the weight of superior numbers; but your reputation among the nations of the earth will be irretrievably injured and debased, and the flag of which you are so justly proud will no longer be the standard of freedom and the hope of the oppressed, but it will be associated with deeds of falsehood and treachery, with broken faith, with a page 31 violated treaty, with the pitiful triumph of strength over weakness, of European guile and selfishness over Asiatic sincerity and confidence, and with conduct which no sophistry can reconcile with the precepts of your religion, with the canons of your morality, with the spirit of your laws, with the policy of your wisest statesmen, with the voice of conscience, and with the character and traditions of the people of Great Britain.
Walker, May, and Co., Printers, 9 Mackillop-st. (off 56 Bourke-st. West), Melbourne.