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Anglo-Saxonizing machines: Exclusion America, White Australia.

In 1887, Hawai'i was described as an "Anglo-Saxonizing machine," comparable on a smaller scale to the United States as a "converter of all sorts of men into ultimate Englishmen." However, the same source noted, the "Chinese element seems ... likely to prove the most refractory to the moulding influence of our Anglo-Saxon civilisation." (1) This assessment of the Chinese attitude to the obvious benefits of becoming "ultimate Englishmen" is one that would have been found not only in Hawai'i and the United States but also in the Australian colonies of the time--so much so that when the writer made this boast, laws limiting the entry of this "refractory" element were being enforced, or soon would be, in all the Australian colonies and the United States.

Many parallels besides efforts to restrict their entry exist in the histories of Chinese people in Australia and the United States from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Here, however, the focus is on the restrictive immigration laws of the pre-Federation (1901) Australian colonies, the Australian Commonwealth, and the United States that were directed against Chinese people. (2) By comparing the development of such laws, their political and social background, and aspects of the Chinese people's response to them, our understanding of the restrictive laws, their role and context can be broadened. The relative weight of factors, the limit to the concept of exclusion, the paradox of "hostile entry," and variations in responses to the restrictions are all discussed. (3)


United States literature on the so-called exclusion laws emphasizes their racist origins and the impact they had on Chinese people, both those attempting to enter the United States and those living there already, and their "exclusion" is taken for granted. Yet a basic comparison between United States and Australian restrictions reveals a wide variation in the very area they were primarily intended to affect--namely, the number of Chinese people in each country. Beginning in the early 1880s, when both countries introduced major restrictions and when the Chinese populations in both were at their height, the number of Chinese in Australia fell to 25 percent of its maximum, while the Chinese population in the U.S. fell to about 60 percent. (4) The Chinese population in the U.S. began to rise again in the late 1920s, whereas in Australia such an increase did not take place until the 1940s. (5)

It is not my intention to argue that the U.S. restrictions on Chinese entry were not severe and did not have a profound impact on the history of the Chinese in the United States. Chinese exclusion in the United States is usually compared to migration from Europe, and in this context the use of the word "exclusion" is unremarkable. (6) Rather, my purpose is to provide an alternative perspective by comparing U.S. restrictions with those of another "Anglo-Saxonizing machine."

The answer to the question of how Australia so reduced its Chinese population compared to the United States lies not only in the details of the restrictive laws but also in the political and social background to their development and administration. Before proceeding, a brief overview of the restrictive laws in both countries is necessary. Before 1901, "Australia" meant several separately governed colonies, each of which enacted its own restrictive immigration laws. The colonies of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW), to which most Chinese people went, first set up such restrictions in 1855 and 1861, respectively These early laws were repealed by 1867, as numbers of Chinese residents fell, but as numbers again increased, restrictive laws were reenacted in both these colonies and others by 1881. In 1888, as the result of an intercolonial conference, nearly all the colonies of the future Commonwealth of Australia had enacted similar but harsher restrictions. (7)

The anti-Chinese restrictions were, like all the pre-Federation Chinese restrictions of the colonies, a combination of poll tax and tonnage restrictions. That is, they attempted to reduce rather than exclude Chinese people both by imposing a payment on arrival and by limiting the number of Chinese passengers that could be carried per ship ton. The amount to be paid and the numbers per ship varied, but the laws also allowed those already resident to leave and return without payment, provided they did so within a certain period. (8) The most significant ancillary laws to these immigration restrictions were those that denied naturalization to Chinese people, imposed for the first time by NSW in 1881.

The Immigration Restriction Act, the first substantial legislation passed by the new Commonwealth Parliament in 1901, differed from the pre-Federation laws in many respects. Neither the Chinese nor any other race or nation was mentioned in what was a general immigration law designed to exclude all deemed unsuitable to enter "White Australia." (9) The decision of who to exclude was one of bureaucratic discretion, as implemented through a "Dictation Test." (10) The test, as officially described, was "intended to serve as an absolute bar to such a person's [a prohibited immigrant] entry into Australia, or as a means of depriving him of the right to remain in the Commonwealth if he has landed. The test should therefore be applied in a language with which the immigrant is not sufficiently acquainted to be able to write out at dictation." (11)

For the nearly thirty thousand Chinese people resident in Australia before 1901, regardless of whether they were merchants or laborers, the Immigration Restriction Act created a "domicile" status that gave them the right to leave and return but little else. A "Certificate Exempting from Dictation Test" (CEDT) (12) was required if a person wished to travel outside Australia, and on return, his or her entry was a matter of identification. (13) A CEDT was required to purchase a ticket in Hong Kong, a requirement taken seriously by shipping companies, who were fined [pounds sterling]100 for every illegal migrant they carried. When Ah Tong reported that his CEDT had been stolen, he needed a letter from the Collector of Customs stating that he would be admitted "on being satisfactorily identified." Such a letter would be given to the ticket agent in Hong Kong and was negotiated through one of the Chinese stores in Australia that acted as intermediaries with officials. (14)

Apart from a 1903 amendment limiting merchants' wives to temporary entry, there were virtually no major changes to the Immigration Restriction Act until its replacement in 1958. (15) Amendments were largely to improve ship inspections and to allow easier conviction of "prohibited immigrants." Changes that did take place in the categories and definition of exemptions were gradual and were usually accomplished through regulation. These included "substitute and assistant" provisions whereby a merchant or market gardener could return either temporarily or permanently to China and, have someone replace him in his shop or garden. Another was the definition of "student," which varied over time but which was usually confined to younger students attending secondary education.

Under the "Certificate of Exemption" provisions, a modest number of new arrivals could enter Australia after 1901, the majority departing after periods that varied from six months to two years. Between 1902 and 1946, more than 6,400 people entered Australia on temporary Certificates of Exemption, and perhaps one in three who did so were able to remain permanently. (16) The major exemption categories were merchants and their families--a status based on their Australian business connections, not on Chinese-derived certificates or endorsements. (17) A "Certificate of Exemption" was renewable, usually for six months, and with continual proof of merchant activity, some merchants and their families were able to extend their stays from the 1920s until the 1940s. Japanese attacks helped change attitudes, leading to more generous extensions and eventually to the granting of permanent status for some. (18) However, the difficulty and rareness of such cases only emphasizes the basic exclusionary nature of the restrictiv e laws under the so-called White Australia Policy.

Chinese people born in Australia had no clear right to citizenship. Although having an Australian birth certificate did assist reentry, in practice too long an absence could lead to entry being denied. Children born outside Australia to Chinese parents, even if their parents were citizens, also had no specific rights; but again, in practice much depended on "class" and ability to speak English. (19) Knowledge of the law alone is insufficient to understand the impact of these laws because administrative decisions were often ad hoc, contradictory, and even contrary to law. Much research still needs to be done on the practical versus legal rights of people throughout this period. (20)

In the United States, where the first major restrictive legislation was not enacted until 1882, the law was very different in both intent and effect. (21) Although it did identify itself as exclusion legislation, this was largely to impress those who desired such exclusion. In fact, the U.S. "Chinese Exclusion Acts" in their various forms never excluded all Chinese, and the only category completely excluded in theory was "laborers." Merchants, students, teachers, and their wives and minor children were all entitled to enter. In addition, outside the exclusion laws in theory but always intimately connected with their administration were those who claimed to be "natives"--that is, either to have been born in the United States or to be the children of a parent who was a United States citizen. Under U.S. citizenship law. such people had the right of entry regardless of birth, upbringing, or length of time outside the United States. (22) These provisions were established for Chinese by an 1898 court decision and l asted until 1940, when those born after 1934 ceased to be eligible. (23)

Although United States restrictions excluded "laborers," those with prior residence did have the right to leave and return. (24) Their status was similar to the broader category of "domiciles" in Australia, except that they were eventually required to have $1,000 in assets or debts, and the twelvemonth time limit on their return certificates may have been seriously enforced at times. (25) Merchants who wished to leave and return needed proof of partnership in a business; once granted this status, a merchant's wife and minor children also had a right of entry subject to proof of the relationship. Minor children could also acquire merchant status on reaching adulthood by becoming a partner in a business. Australia always limited the definition of a merchant to those involved in import/export businesses, and later to those with a certain level of turnover. In the United States, a "merchant" was simply a partner in a business, despite a gradual narrowing of the definition to eliminate laundries and restaurants, u ntil 1924, when this was limited to "foreign" trade. (26)

In addition to merchants and their dependents, the restrictions exempted teachers and students. For all three of these exemption categories, Canton and Hong Kong officials issued certificates visaed by United States consuls. Such certificates were at first considered a matter of payment rather than serious examination, and the real determination of status took place at the port of entry (27) As a document issued to Yee Sam in 1917 by the U.S. consul in Hong Kong "authorizing his departure" declared: "The question of his admissibility to the United States will be determined upon his arrival at an American port." (28) After 1910, documents issued by U.S. consuls became more accepted and entry for merchants became easier, though not necessarily for their dependents. (29)

Once established in 1901, the Australian Immigration Restriction Act underwent only limited change and was in any case the only immigration law applicable there, whereas the U.S. restrictions on Chinese existed alongside a separate set of general immigration laws. The United States laws also underwent numerous reenactments and amendments throughout their existence, were affected by other laws, and until 1904 were tied to treaty obligations. The original 1882 Act needed to be renewed in 1892, and again in 1902, before being made permanent in 1904. The 1888 Scott Act retrospectively stripped more than twenty-four thousand return certificate-holders of their right to reenter the United States, while the Geary Act of 1892 established a registration scheme. (30) The definition of "laborer" was broadened until it included doctors and ministers, while "student" came to mean those in higher education only (31) Restaurant managers were declared not to be merchants, then defined as merchants again after 1914, and exclu ded again in 1924. (32) In 1924, when the exclusion acts became incorporated into general immigration law; the wives of citizens were denied entry while non-citizen merchants continued to be able to bring their wives. (33) Amendments in 1924 also narrowed the definition of teachers and students and attempted to bar the entry of non-citizen wives of merchants until overturned by a court decision the following year. (34)

Amendments, redefinitions, and non-immigration laws meant that the U.S. restrictions were extremely difficult to administer. On arrival, the determination of status was the key to entry for most Chinese, rather than identification, as in Australia. Was a person the "real" wife, son, or daughter of a "native" or a merchant, as she or he claimed to be? This was not a matter of bureaucratic discretion but of fact, and court appeals against initial decisions were common even after efforts to limit such appeals. (35) For those claiming merchant status, proof of partnership in a business was sufficient, provided it was not a restaurant, laundry, or associated with gambling, after which a wife and minor children could also enter, subject to examination. For those claiming to be "native-born," records were not expected and affidavits were used, along with legal proofs determined by the balance of probability (36)

The restrictions on Chinese entry in both Australia and the United States were greatly affected by the Japanese invasion of China, generating more tolerant attitudes and sympathy for new refugee arrivals. The extension of the war and China's becoming an ally of both the United States and Australia brought their discriminatory polices under pressure. The United States nominally made the biggest change early in 1943, when the exclusion acts were replaced with quotas similar to those imposed on immigrants from other countries. Practically, this had the effect of reducing the number of Chinese people who could enter the United States to a mere 105 per year. However, about the same time other changes made it possible for Chinese people to become citizens, noncitizen wives (and later husbands) of citizens again became eligible to enter the United States, and "War Brides" Acts allowed more than six thousand Chinese women to enter. On the restrictive side, the citizenship of those born outside the United States had b een limited (for those born after 1934). (37) Overall, these changes not only greatly boosted the number of Chinese in the United States but greatly reduced the gender imbalance and increased the numbers of young families.

While the United States continued to be concerned about its China relations, with global politics added to trade concerns, the more isolationist Australia continued its efforts to maintain the White Australia Policy and the Immigration Restriction Act was left in place until 1958. (38) However, public sympathy for those leaving "Red China" also meant that more people could enter under assistant and substitute provisions than ever before, usually to work in Chinese restaurants, which greatly increased in number in the 1950s. Overall numbers remained low, however, and no significant increase in the Chinese population of Australia took place as in the United States until the 1970s.


We have seen that the United States exclusion laws were complex and contained many exemptions compared to the relative simplicity of the Australian laws with their narrow range of exemptions. How did such different legislation come about in two "Anglo-Saxonizing machines" equally intent on keeping out "refractory" Chinese? To answer this, the political and social background to the enactment and development of the restrictions needs to be examined. This examination begins not with "nation-states" but with regional elements--colonies within the British Empire and an isolated state within the United States federation. These were Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) in pre-Federation Australia, and the State of California in the United States, respectively--the areas primarily concerned with Chinese entry. In the mid-nineteenth century, "white settlers," having expropriated land from natives and previous arrivals, thinly settled these areas. The gold rushes in each brought large numbers of newcomers from many parts of the world, including China, which quickly aroused the hostility of those who considered that they had more "right" to the opportunities there or who feared similar expropriation themselves. (39)

Before 1849, there were a handful of Chinese people in San Francisco, and perhaps 300 in that first gold rush year; by 1854, there were 17,000 Chinese recorded in California. During this same period, California's population had risen from over 92,000 in 1850 to over 215,000 "Americans" in 1854, plus half again as many "foreigners." (40) Chinese mixed with new arrivals from the eastern states as well as people from France, Chile, Hawai'i, and the Australian colonies. Many of the "American" (eastern states) newcomers felt hostility toward those they believed had less right than they did to the opportunities offered by this newly "acquired" portion of the United States. Thus Chileans and French as well as Chinese had a great deal of hostility, violence, and, ultimately, law directed against them. (41)

In Australia, similar rapid rises in numbers occurred: by 1855, there were 18,000 Chinese people in Victoria, and by 1862, nearly 15,000 in NSW. (42) Hostility toward "outsiders" in the gold fields--in this case those not from the British Isles--was directed against Germans and Americans as well as Chinese at first. In both California and the two Australian colonies, hostility toward Chinese people lasted longer, however, in part because it was the Chinese who remained and continued to work in the gold fields and in other occupations after other groups bad dispersed or left.

The presence of the Chinese in large numbers in Victoria, NSW, and California soon led to restrictions as well as to acts of violence and hostility. The levels of violence and the type and effectiveness of the early restrictions were influenced by such factors as the maturity of governing institutions and the complexity of other race-related issues. The ability of governments to exercise law and order and the level of control possessed over immigration were also significant influences. In addition to differing factors, there were those that the regions had in common. The relatively recent occupation of land and the expropriation of native peoples that took place in all the territories increased the fundamental racism that underlay the attitudes that "white" settlers had toward Chinese and other "non-white" peoples. In all the regions there was also a sense of isolation from settlers' respective "cultural centers," which contributed a sense of insecurity to this racism. Before the transcontinental railway, for example, San Francisco was nearly as isolated from the eastern United States as Sydney was from Britain, and both cities found it easier to communicate with Hong Kong or with each other than with their "centers." (43)

This racism and fear of "outsiders" was exacerbated in California, compared to the Australian colonies, by a number of additional factors. Californians had needed to consider whether or not their new state should be a "slave state," and even the very size of the state had been partly determined by a fear of the southern half being dominated by Mexicans, making its division into two states undesirable. On the one hand, slavery and the American Civil War gave "white identity" greater urgency and a sharper edge in the U.S. than in the Australian colonies. In California, native populations were in possession of large portions of the state and were often expropriated by the gold diggers themselves. (44) On the other hand, in NSW and Victoria by the middle of the nineteenth century, the native people were regarded not as a threat but as a social problem that was likely to disappear with time and disease.

The gold rushes and the rapid arrival of large numbers of new people in isolated areas were a challenge to law and administration that would have stretched the limits of the most mature and efficient of governments. In this regard, California and the two Australian colonies also differed. The arrival of Chinese and others in great numbers occurred just as California was granted statehood (1850) and only a few years after the territory had been seized from Mexico (1846). At the time of their gold rushes, however, Victoria and NSW had been established for more than half a century under tight British administration, at first as penal colonies run by the military, so that by the middle of the nineteenth century they had developed parliamentary governments with a modest degree of democracy and self-government. San Francisco was virtually a creation of the gold rush, while Sydney and Melbourne were already established urban centers.

This difference in length of settlement and maturity of government institutions meant that the Australian colonies met the large numbers of gold rush-inspired immigrants with a great deal of "law and order" compared to the unsettled and sometimes chaotic Californian situation, In the colonies, after an initial period of disorder, "Gold Field" Acts imposed a form of martial law and police had wide powers of control. These general regulations were supplemented by various "Chinese on the Gold Fields" Acts that sought to avoid violence by isolating the Chinese, regulating the layout of their "camps," and appointing them a "protector." (45) In California, in contrast, vigilantes operated even in San Francisco, (46) and in the scattered "placers," hangings, mob rule, and miners' courts were common, In the years after the gold rushes, California saw many acts of expulsion and massacre of Chinese people that had no counterpart in the Australian colonies, (47) where even the most famous story of anti-Chinese violence during the gold rushes, that of "Lambing Flat" in NSW pales in comparison to the Californian record. (48)

The levels and persistence of anti-Chinese violence in California may also be connected to the level of control each state or colony had over the entry of people within its territory. It is difficult to make a direct link between such control and levels of violence, though the differences in governmental maturity and ability to exercise law and order already mentioned probably provide most of the explanation. A more definite link can be made between the lack of control by Californians over immigration and the range of non-immigration laws that the administrations of California and San Francisco directed against their Chinese residents. (49) Laws such as these had no equivalent in Victoria or NSW until late in the nineteenth century, when Factory Acts and other laws designed to reduce Chinese competition in various industries were introduced. (50)

At the time of the arrival of Chinese people in significant numbers, California was a relatively minor member of a federation that either did not regard Chinese immigration as a major problem or preferred the interests of cheap labor and trade with China. Thus for many years Californians agitated for, but could not effectively control, the entry of Chinese people. State and city laws were struck down in federal courts as exceeding the powers of a state within the United States federation. (51) The first federal legislation restricting Chinese was the Page Law of 1875, aimed at the entry of prostitutes and others who were considered undesirable. It was not until the growth of its electoral strength gave it the balance of power in a presidential election that, in 1882, California was able to get Chinese restriction laws enacted by Congress. (52)

During these same years, the colonies of NSW and Victoria not only enacted but repealed legislation aimed at restricting Chinese entry and reimposed restrictions when it suited them. Although there was some pressure against this legislation from London, in the interests of relations with China, the colonial governments were able to resist moves to stop their restrictions being passed. (53) The control that NSW and Victoria had over immigration was lessened only by the capacity of Chinese people to enter through the colonies of South Australia and Queensland. However, because concern over Chinese entry was greatest in the two largest and most influential of the six colonies, by 1888 nearly all the colonies, under NSW prompting, had adopted anti-Chinese immigration laws. In 1901, when the new Australian federal government wished to pass the Immigration Restriction Act, London again resisted, this time in the interests of relations with Japan. As a compromise, the Dictation Test was adopted, which allowed racial ly based immigration restrictions to be imposed without referring to any race or country by name. (54)


The sense of control, or lack of it, over immigration matters may well have affected attitudes of hostility toward a group perceived as threatening. Another consequence of the relative freedom with which NSW, Victoria, and, later, the Commonwealth of Australia were able to introduce restrictive laws was that these laws were well thought out, targeted, enforceable, and involved a minimum of political compromise. (55) The two elements that contributed most to ensuring a high level of consensus about Chinese restriction in Australia--and, conversely, a relatively high level of compromise and complexity in United States laws--were the politics of trade and labor. The reluctance of both Washington and London to have immigration restrictions imposed on the Chinese was in part due to their wish to maintain and improve trade. Trade was a strong feature in limiting the extent of U.S. restrictions on Chinese people, whereas such considerations played a small role in Australia. (56) Yet there was much popular pressure f rom a growing working class and trade union movement to impose restrictions on the entry of Chinese people, and the impact of this factor was very different in Australia and the United States.

The position of the Australian colonies within the British Empire influenced their attitude toward trade and relations with China. The early history of the colonies had involved much trade with China, but as agricultural industries developed aimed at British markets, trade with China had fallen. The result was that trade considerations counted for little in the debates over the 1901 Immigration Restriction Act, with the first Australian prime minister declaring that he was not willing to "allow a national danger for the sake of cheap return freights." (57) In fact, the only significant group to support the Chinese community itself in protesting the laws was the shipping industry, which stood to lose valuable passenger trade. Shippers' concerns were not addressed, though they may have been responsible for securing fairly relaxed attitudes to the reentry rights of resident Chinese before 1901. (58) The United States, in contrast, made its first major treaty with China in 1868, and considerations of trade were a lways part of its debates over immigration restriction. (59) These treaty obligations, even when broken, and the interests of trade with China, helped make the 1882 exclusion laws and subsequent amendments a complex political compromise.

Considerations of trade and the desire not to offend the Chinese brought conflict with those who wished even stronger restrictions on the grounds that Chinese labor threatened "white" labor. This was an aspect that first arose when landowners in both California and NSW pressed for the legal recognition of labor contracts made in China--efforts rejected in both places in 1852. (60) Later anti-Chinese agitation in California was seemingly led by the "working class," in the interests of those struggling to raise wages and working conditions. However, the presence in the anti-Chinese movement of large numbers of self-employed and small businessmen--who were more interested in eliminating Chinese competition than in raising wages--combined with other factors, weakened trade union power in California. (61) The result was that those who desired stronger restrictions in the United States lacked the political power to impose them, though they were able to maintain pressure that led to amendments in the law and changes to enforcement over the years. (62)

In Australia, the working class exercised greater political power. The Labor Party held the balance of power in the first Commonwealth Parliament, and this keenest advocate of the White Australia Policy formed its first stable government in 1911. Even before such governments, the political power of the working class helped ensure that the issue of Chinese restriction was a high priority and that few compromises were made. This, combined with the relative weakness of groups or classes that might have preferred "cheap" labor or had trade concerns, ensured that Chinese restriction was largely a consensus issue and that the resulting legislation was extremely exclusionary in effect and consistent in application. (63)

The differing political and social backgrounds to the restrictions made their design very different in Australia and the United States. The degree of governmental maturity, anticipation of trade, the political strength of the working class, and local control over immigration law all played a role. The continuing administration and evolution of these laws were also influenced by some of these factors, as well as by citizenship law, court decisions, border control, and issues of day-to-day administration.

The United States, like the Australian colonies, had early barred Chinese people from being naturalized. Those born in the United States, however, could not only claim citizenship but could pass this citizenship status and its right of entry on to their children regardless of a child's place of birth. Under Australian interpretations of British citizenship, however, Chinese people born in Australia were not necessarily citizens, and even if they were, their children born outside Australia had no right of entry Moreover, Chinese who had been born in Australia could have their right to reenter denied if they stayed away too long. (64) In effect, those born in Australia before 1901 could travel either with a CEDT or on their birth certificates with little apparent difference. (65) These issues were never fully tested in the courts and continued to be a mixture of bureaucratic and court decisions. (66) In practice, entry to Australia was often based on class considerations, on the ability to speak English, and ev en on an assessment of "caste." (67) Australian-born children raised in China and returning to work as gardeners or other "laborers" were usually treated the same as "domiciles" (China-born pre-1901 residents). (68)

In the United States, such matters were determined less often by bureaucratic discretion and more often by court decisions. The citizenship rights of the China-born children of "natives" were established through the courts in 1898, and thereafter gradually became a common method of entry. (69) The use of the courts had been established early in the United States when the Chinese community had organized to defend itself against various city and state laws that were often successfully challenged in federal courts. (70) The use of the Page Law to prevent women from entering the United States had involved numerous court actions and writs of habeas corpus. (71) In the Australian colonies, too, courts were often used by the Chinese community but rarely in major test cases that influenced the enforcement of the restrictions. This is not to say that colonial administrators did not fear such challenges; indeed, the extensive powers of discretion given to bureaucrats there were partly intended to make such court challe nges difficult. Court appeals against the Dictation Test, for example, were possible and sometimes successful on technical grounds, but could not challenge the system itself. (72)

The overall complexity of U.S. exclusion laws, with their treaty-based and trade-inspired exemptions, combined with the operation of citizenship laws and court decisions, allowed the evolution of far greater options for entry, both legal and illegal, than was the case in Australia. The fact that the United States shared land borders with Canada and Mexico also meant that smuggling was more significant than in Australia. The only way to enter Australia was to be smuggled on board ship, or, for ships' crews, to jump ship. If caught in Australia, such a person had to prove that he or she had been resident since 1901, whereas the larger range of U.S. entry categories also meant a larger range of false documents that could be created or sold in order to "fix" one's status. (73)

The most significant form of illegal entry to the United States, however--and one with no Australian equivalent-- was the capacity of those with citizenship status to bring their children into the United States as citizens. (74) It became a widespread practice, when returning from trips to China, for those with this "native" status to register the birth of a child with U.S. officials (nearly always a son). This created a "slot" that could be sold to those wishing to enter the United States. (75) Entry by this means came to make up a major proportion of Chinese entries: between 1915 and 1924, an average of 30 to 40 percent of Chinese entries were on this basis, and the "confession" program of the 1950s revealed at least eight thousand "paper sons." (76)

This open secret of "paper sons" and other means of avoiding the restrictions stimulated massive efforts on the part of United States officials to limit such entries. The U.S. system evolved in such a way that its administrators made little distinction between legitimate and illegal applicants. Consequently for Chinese people also, there was little difference between the two methods of entry These attitudes led in turn to a vicious cycle of regulations and countermeasures that caused delays, frustration, and hostility on both sides. A simple comparison of the Australian and United States immigration files illustrates this trend. The Australian files are typically at their most complex and thickest in the earliest years--that is, around 1901, when procedures for identification were being established. As this was accomplished and identification became routine, the amount of paperwork needed for individual applications became less and less. The United States files generally show an opposite pattern, with the amo unt of documentation, the length of interviews, and the number of investigations for each new file growing over the years. (77)

The need to determine a persons "status," including the relationship of dependents, at the point of entry in the United States, combined with the fact that proof of that status or relationship often lay in China, also contributed to the complex mechanisms of interviews and investigations that evolved. People generally boarded ships for San Francisco and other ports with a variety of documents that were only thoroughly examined in the United States. They were then subjected to often lengthy investigations and interviews, with friends and relatives brought in to be interviewed by officers and interpreters, resulting in delays, disappointments, and confrontation. Such examinations often took weeks or months--or even, in some cases with court appeals, years. The hostility and heartbreak for those brought so close to their goal only to be returned to China were, of course, greatly heightened. (78) Those leaving the United States had to go through a similar ordeal--namely, a "pre-examination" of their status intend ed to make their reentry easier. Many failed at this point, as when Fong Hong, withdrawing his application, retorted, "You ask too many questions; I won't answer them." (79)

Although American shipping companies sometimes demanded affidavits to protect themselves, it was certainly the case that large numbers of their passengers were in a sense "entitled" to get as far as San Francisco, where they could then face deportation after an investigation. This practice of examining status on U.S. soil stood in contrast to the Australian one of placing responsibility on the shipping companies. (80) By imposing heavy fines on shipping companies and demanding a valid CEDT, Australian officials could expect few people to arrive who did not have an entitlement to enter, their identification rather than their assessment taking place at the port. Though the mustering and identification of Chinese passengers had its humiliations, it was only the occasional Australian-born child returning after many years who was delayed while witnesses were contacted, and in cases of lengthy delays, a bond was usually sufficient to allow landing. (81)


Developments in the enforcement of United States restrictions were made more complex by the operation of citizenship laws, court decisions, the range of illegal options available, and the administrative measures taken to counter these illegal options--all features of relatively little importance in the development of Australian restrictions and their enforcement. Yet considering the restrictive laws in and of themselves runs the risk of obscuring those most concerned--the Chinese people--not to mention their motivations and intentions. How did Chinese people themselves respond to the restrictions, and would a comparison of these responses in Australia and the United States add to our understanding of them? Three areas of comparison are discussed below: (1) the entry of women, (2) variations in the pattern of visits to home villages, and (3) a possible "generational" transfer from Australia to the United States.

In both Australia and the United States, the number of Chinese men always exceeded women, and some have attributed the "scarcity" to the restrictive laws. This is an argument less common in Australia, however, despite the proportion of women being much lower there. (82) Such arguments are made despite the fact that U.S. laws and restrictions--with the exception of the Page Law, which was directed at the entry of prostitutes--did not target women. They also often ignore the pattern of few women that predates these laws and that existed in places with no restrictions. (83)

Erika Lee accurately expresses the relationship between the movement of women and restrictive laws when she states that the barriers raised by the laws, insofar as they presented special difficulties for women, perpetuated "the earlier migration patterns." (84) However, Lee goes on to say that the U.S. exemptions were for "male categories"--merchants, teachers, and so on--and that this contributed to the lower proportion of women. (85) Yet each of these categories had its female exemption, in addition to those for minor children. Between 1900 and 1930, the percentage of women entering the United States rose from 0.7 to 30 percent, over a period when there were continuous efforts to make entry more difficult, including the 1924 Immigration Act, which resulted in the alien wives of citizens being denied entry (86) It has even been argued that women had a greater chance of entry than men during this period. (87) In the case of children, the choice of whether to bring male or female offspring was up to Chinese pa rents--and they overwhelmingly chose sons over daughters. (88) Thus we have more women coming to the United States despite changes in the restrictive laws. At the same time, many people, given the choice, preferred to ensure that a son gained entry even to the extent of denying daughters a potential "slot." Thus it would seem that factors other than the restrictive laws alone need to be considered.

Perhaps the most significant difference between Australian and U.S. restrictions was the capacity to bring a wife, which has profound implications for settlement and birth rates within a community This capacity was limited even for merchants in Australia, and it was nonexistent for the majority of Chinese market gardeners and other non-merchants there. The wives of merchants were limited to temporary entry after 1903, even if their husbands had "permanent" status. But as in the United States, when people had a choice of whom to bring (e.g., in the exemption categories of students and substitutes), there was nevertheless a strong preference for males. (89)

Thus more women and more wives arrived in the U.S. than in Australia, and the greater exclusion of the Australian laws is the obvious explanation for this. However, the obvious should not be allowed to obscure other considerations. Merchants had always been more likely to bring their wives (or a wife), and the U.S. laws not only allowed wives to enter but also favored merchants over other categories of people. In Australia, the relatively few merchants who did enter were more likely to bring wives and to establish families. (90)

Consideration of people's responses to the law alone is insufficient to explain these patterns. A significant factor in the Chinese response was class, or at least access to resources. Those who had more wealth did as they had always done: they brought a wife. Australian laws restricted the class of Chinese who could or were inclined to do so, while U.S. laws favored this class over others, with a consequent impact on the numbers of women. But when it came to the entry of "income earners," those Chinese in America who had always been less willing or able to bring a wife continued to opt to bring sons, whom they thought more likely to earn an income than daughters. This was done either by selling a "slot" to a "paper son," who was required to pay this back, or by organizing a substitute or assistant who would work in the shop or market garden.

Another difference in reaction to restrictions is found in the links that Australian and American Chinese maintained with their villages of origin. The general pattern of Sydney's Chinese people was to return regularly, perhaps as often as every three to five years, with a man keeping his wife in his home village and retiring there at about seventy years of age. (91) California immigration records, though less easy to assess, seem to indicate that people generally returned less regularly, perhaps only to marry, and that if a man did bring a wife to the United States, he then returned even more rarely. (92)

One explanation for this difference is that the (relatively) more relaxed Australian circumstances meant that people felt they could more safely leave and return. Given the history of hostile administration and the paperwork required, Chinese people in the U.S. may have been more insecure about their reentry rights and thus have stayed away from their home villages for longer periods. (93) This is an explanation based on the restrictive laws and their administration. However, as with the entry of women, consideration of other factors may improve our understanding.

The bulk of Chinese people in Australia who traveled to and from their home villages in China were pre-1901 domiciles working as market gardeners and cabinet makers. These men had families in the villages and, most importantly, regarded their home villages as the center of their lives and the source of their personal prestige and social status. Those who entered the United States in the years after the restrictions were increasingly (though by no means exclusively) middle-class merchants and shopkeepers. Does this mean that those Chinese people who were wealthy enough to afford what it took to get themselves and their families to the United States were less inclined to visit a home village they no longer saw as the center of their world?

Also of interest to our discussion here is the fact that the 1901 Australian Immigration Restriction Act seems to have caused a shift in links for some Chinese people away from Australia and toward the United States. The movement of people from the villages was usually of a "chain" type, meaning that people went to Sydney, San Francisco, or elsewhere because they had relatives there to sponsor and assist them--a chain broken in Australia by the Immigration Restriction Act. One result was that the sons of Brisbane market gardeners and Sydney cabinet makers began to find their way to San Francisco and California, to the stores and workshops of cousins and uncles, perhaps. Thus many American--born people of Chinese descent today know that their fathers, who came to the United States as "paper sons," bought these "slots" with money earned by grandfathers who worked in Australia. (94) Class elements were undoubtedly involved in who was able to make this shift to the United States, because the cost of purchasing a "paper" establishing United States citizenship was high and other options were also available, such as going to Peru--and, of course, remaining in the village. (95)

These considerations of shifting links to other countries, patterns of visits to home villages, and the proportion of women entering Australia and the U.S. indicate that views based on the restrictive laws alone are liable to miss other factors that interacted with them. Class, wealth, and the view from the village are just a few suggestions. Further research is required, including research that makes greater use of comparative studies.

This article does not pretend to have surveyed all the complexities or issues involved with the Australian restrictive laws, let alone the more complex United States laws. Nevertheless, this comparison of restrictive laws, their development and some responses to them, has attempted to identify distinguishing features and to assess the relative weight of various factors in their origin and development. The U.S. restrictions on the entry of Chinese people developed late, due in part to California's position within the federation and to the relative weakness of working-class considerations compared to those of trade. The result was a complex and politically compromised effort to limit Chinese entry that never actually attempted to achieve "exclusion." What it did achieve, paradoxically, was a form of "hostile entry" that enhanced the impression of exclusion. This perspective on "Exclusion America" is facilitated by comparison with that other "Anglo-Saxonizing machine," "White Australia." Australia was influenced by similar factors, but its early control over immigration and its greater political consensus allowed Australia to establish a higher level of exclusion over a longer period. Australian and American history have many parallels that go beyond their past as "Anglo-Saxonizing machines" and their efforts to limit "refractory" elements. These aspects are perhaps closer, however, than most, and thus provide better opportunities for developing new perspectives.


(1.) The Friend, August 1887, 1 (a Hawai'ian newspaper).

(2.) The best study of the Australian Immigration Restriction Act and its role in the White Australia Policy is still A. T. Yarwood, Asian Migration to Australia: The Background to Exclusion, 1896-1923 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1964). A more recent study is Paul Jones, "Alien Acts: The White Australia Policy 1901 to 1939--The Immigration Restriction Act and its Administration" (Ph.D. diss., University of Melbourne, 1998). There are numerous studies of the United States exclusion acts, most recently Erika Lee, "At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration During the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1998); see also Lucy E. Salyer, Laws Harsh as Tigers: Chinese Immigrants and the Shaping of Modern Immigration Law (London: University of North Carolina Press, 1995).

(3.) This article has been greatly improved by comments made on a draft by Professor Adam McKeown of the Department of History, Columbia University. While I gratefully acknowledge his suggestions and corrections, all errors are my responsibility.

(4.) Adam McKeown, Chinese Migrant Networks and Cultural Change: Peru, Chicago, Hawaii, 1900-1936 (University of Chicago Press, 2001), 30, calculates the that the Chinese population in the U.S. dropped to 57.3 percent of what it had been at its height.

(5.) Research for this article is based on work undertaken in the Pearl River Delta, Guangdong province, comparing links from this area to San Francisco, Hawai'i, and Sydney, for a doctoral dissertation at the University of Hong Kong to be submitted in late 2002. Based on this research, it is assumed that the villages and districts of origin of the Chinese in Australia and the U.S. before the mid-twentieth century were similar enough not to account for any differences discussed here.

(6.) Salyer, Laws Harsh as Tigers, 67-68, Tables 1 and 2, compares the great differences in the numbers "rejected" between Chinese and other aliens.

(7.) For a more detailed account of these laws and of the Chinese in Australia, see C. A. Price, The Great White Walls Are Built: Restrictive Immigration to North America and Australasia, 1836-1888 (Canberra: Australian Institute of International Affairs with ANU Press, 1974). For NSW in particular, see Michael Williams, Chinese Settlement in NSW (Sydney: Heritage Office of NSW, 1999,

(8.) In 1855 and 1861, the poll tax was [pounds sterling]10 and one person per 10 ship tons; in 1881, it was [pounds sterling]10 and one per 100 tons; and in 1888, [pounds sterling]100 and one per 300 tons. Nine months to travel was the period given in NSW.

(9.) This law embodied the "White Australia Policy," which was a common but not an official term, though it did appear in Australian Labor Party policy documents.

(10.) Yarwood, Asian Migration to Australia, 22-23.

(11.) This same instruction of 1927 explained how the test was to be given: that there was to be an interpreter to explain what was required, the possibility of authorizing an outside person to give the test in the language chosen, the necessity of reading the whole passage at dictation speed even if the person made no attempt to write, and the fact that it was not allowable to abandon a test started in a language that the person unexpectedly looked like passing. Australian Archives (hereafter AA), (NSW): C4203/1, Boarding Branch Circulars, 1914-1931, vol. 2, 460, Circular, Assistant Secretary to Collector of Customs, March 4, 1927.

(12.) CEDTs were called "Certificates of Domicile" until 1905.

(13.) All CEDTs had photos and palm prints (later thumbprints) on two copies of the CEDT, one of which was held at the port of departure.

(14.) AA (NSW), SP42/1; C11/1161, Ah Tong. For the role played by these stores, see Michael Williams, "Sojourn in Your Native Land" (M.Litt. thesis, University of New England, 1997), 47-48.

(15.) Yarwood, Asian Migration to Australia, 52-53.

(16.) Barry York, Admitted: 1901 to 1946. Immigrants and Others Allowed into Australia between 1901 and 1946 (Canberra: Centre for Immigration and Multicultural Studies, ANU, 1993). For details of this calculation, see Williams, "Sojourn in Your Native Land," 70, and C. Y. Choi, Chinese Migration and Settlement in Australia (Sydney University Press, 1975), 42.

(17.) After 1912, Australia recognized passports issued by the Chinese government, but officials continued to demand proof of Australian merchant connections. C. F. Yong, The New Gold Mountain: The Chinese in Australia, 1901-1921 (Richmond: Raphael Arts, 1977), 25.

(18.) Through extensions and the building up of a trading firm, one couple who arrived in the 1920s was able to remain long enough to be among the first to take up the right of citizenship when this was finally granted to Chinese people in 1958; AA (NSW), SP1122/1; N57/2220, Chang Wau Sheu Sing. Janis Wilton, "Chinese Voices, Australian Lives" (Ph.D. diss., University of New England, 1996), 174-77, gives examples of strategies used to extend short-term visits for wives.

(19.) AA (NSW): C4203/1, Boarding Branch Circulars, 1914-1931, Acting Secretary to Collector of Customs, May 14, 1925, 404, "Chinese seek to re-enter the Commonwealth on Australian Birth Certificates after lengthy absence."

(20.) For some preliminary examinations, which despite their titles do refer to Chinese, see Tom Clarke and Brian Galligan, "'Aboriginal Native' and the Institutional Construction of the Australian Citizen," Australian Historical Studies, no. 105, October 1995, 523-43; Pat Stretton and Christine Finnimore, "Black Fellow Citizens: Aborigines and the Commonwealth Franchise," Historical Studies, no. 101, October 1993, 521-35; and Jones, "Alien Acts," 84-86.

(21.) The 1875 Page Law was the first federal restriction on Chinese entry, aimed at prostitutes and others who were considered undesirable; see George Peffer, If They Don't Bring Their Women Here (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1999).

(22.) There were limits to this right, such as the need to take an oath of allegiance by age twenty-one; see Salyer, Laws Harsh as Tigers, 299, nn. 124 and 125.

(23.) Rose Hum Lee, The Chinese in the United States of America (Hong Kong University Press, 1960), 301; and Chen Wen-Hsien, "Chinese under Both Exclusion and Immigration Laws" (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1940), 292.

(24.) This was a right removed for a time by the Scott Act in 1888, and restored by a new treaty in 1894.

(25.) Australian "domiciles" had three years, and this was extended as a matter of course.

(26.) Lee, "At America's Gates," 221, 250.

(27.) At one stage it was declared that the United States in Hong Kong would "endorse anything for a $5 bill"; see Lee, "At America's Gates," 251.

(28.) National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), RG85: Arrival Investigation Case Files, 1884-1911, 12017/39135, Yee Sam.

(29.) The gradual acceptance of documents issued in China by U.S.-based immigration officials is discussed in a forthcoming article by Adam McKeown to which he kindly gave me permission to refer, "Migration Bureaucracy in the Early Twentieth-Century World Order: The Global Enforcement of Chinese Exclusion," to be published in the American Historical Review.

(30.) The Scott Act appears to be the point of most direct contact between Australian and United States restriction laws. The Scott Act was the result of a perceived refusal by the Chinese government to ratify a new treaty that the U.S. negotiator in Peking blamed on the British government proposing a similar "exclusion treaty for Australia"; see Jules Davids, American Diplomatic and Public Papers (Delaware, Md.: Scholarly Resources, 1979), vol.13, doc. no. 79, 6 September 1888, Denby to Bayard.

(31.) See Delber L. McKee, Chinese Exclusion versus the Open Door Policy, 1900-1906 (Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1977), 28-36, on changes being carried out by regulation only.

(32.) Lee, "At America's Gates," 234.

(33.) A 1930 court decision restored this right to marriages before 1924; see Lee, "At America's Gates," 69.

(34.) Lee, "At America's Gates," 221.

(35.) The 1905 Ju Toy case is an example; see Salyer, Laws Harsh as Tigers, 174.

(36.) Affidavits rather than birth certificates were relied on well before the 1906 San Francisco fire.

(37.) See note 23 above and Lee, The Chinese in the United States, 17-18, 200-1.

(38.) For a study of the relative impact of foreign policy considerations, see Sean Brawley, The White Peril: Foreign Relations and Asian Immigration to Australasia and North America 1919-1978 (Sydney: University of NSW Press, 1995).

(39.) Carey McWilliams, California: The Great Exception (Berkeley: University of California Press, [1949] 1999), 184, discusses these aspects in relation to California, but most could apply equally to the Australian colonies. McWilliams also asks, "Where but in California have the Irish competed with the Chinese?" 68. Where else indeed?

(40.) Alta California, December 10, 1849, 1, and Statistical View of the United States, Being a Compendium of the Seventh Census (Washington, D.C.: A. O. Nicholson, 1854), 122-23.

(41.) Elmer Clarence Sandmeyer, The Anti-Chinese Movement in California (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, [1939] 1991), 41.

(42.) Price, The Great White Walls, 68, 77.

(43.) McWilliams, California, 41.

(44.) McWilliams, California, 51-52, and Alexander Saxton, The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California (University of California Press, 1975), 19-37.

(45.) For examples of these regulations from 1850s Victoria, see Ian F. McLaren, The Chinese in Victoria: Official Reports and Documents (Victoria: Red Rooster Press, 1985), 15-18.

(46.) These San Francisco vigilantes were directed not at the Chinese population but at criminal elements, including supposed "convicts" from Sydney, a gang known as the Sydney Ducks or Sydney Coves.

(47.) For various incidents of anti-Chinese violence, see Sandmeyer, The Anti-Chinese Movement in California, 48-97. For a comparison with violence in Australia, see Price, The Great White Walls, 78-83.

(48.) Comparisons run the risk of seeming to judge one group against another. To say that one nation or society was more or less violent than another is not to say that the other was not violent. Violence is discussed in order to assess the weight of these factors in the development of restrictive laws, rather than to make judgments in absolute terms.

(49.) For a summary of these laws, which ranged from "queue-cutting ordinances" to various taxes and licensing laws, see C. J. McClain and L. W. McClain, "The Chinese Contribution to the Development of American Law," in Sucheng Chan, ed., Entry Denied: Exclusion and the Chinese Community in America, 1882-1943 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 3-24.

(50.) Yong, The New Gold Mountain, 46-79.

(51.) McClain and McClain, "The Chinese Contribution to the Development of American Law."

(52.) Saxton, The Indispensable Enemy, 178-80.

(53.) Wang Sing-wu, The Organization of Chinese Emigration, 1848-1888, with Special Reference to Chinese Emigration to Australia (San Francisco: Chinese Materials Center, 1978), 287-301, is particularly detailed on this.

(54.) Yarwood, Asian Migration to Australia, 22.

(55.) Yarwood, Asian Migration to Australia, 19.

(56.) Yarwood, Asian Migration to Australia, 37.

(57.) Ibid.

(58.) Yarwood, Asian Migration to Australia, 70.

(59.) For details of the role of treaty and trade in the exclusion laws, see Christian G. Fritz, "Due Process, Treaty Rights and Chinese Exclusion, 1882-1891," in Chan, ed., Entry Denied, 25-56, and McKee, Chinese Exclusion versus the Open Door Policy.

(60.) For details of the rejection of the 1852 Tingley Bill, see Sandmeyer, The Anti-Chinese Movement in California, 26; for those of a similar bill in NSW, also in 1852, see Price, The Great White Walls, 77.

(61.) McWilliams, California, 140, refers to an "emotional class consciousness," and Saxton, The Indispensable Enemy, 152, refers to the "hindrance" to reform caused by the Chinese issue.

(62.) McKee, Chinese Exclusion versus the Open Door Policy, 28-36.

(63.) Yarwood, Asian Migration to Australia, 1-2.

(64.) According to one official memo, "say, 10 years" might do it. AA (NSW): C4203/1, Boarding Branch Circulars, 1914-1931, 404, Acting Secretary to Collector of Customs, May 14, 1925.

(65.) For example, two Australian-born brothers, both raised in China and returned, chose to travel, one by CEDT, the other using his birth certificate. AA (NSW): SP42/1, C47/2369, Wellington Wing Ning and Charles Wong Wing Kau.

(66.) Some of these issues, especially the bureaucratic denial of citizenship to citizens' children born overseas, are discussed by Jones, "Alien Acts," 166.

(67.) A memo of 1920 refers to "slightly coloured passengers of superior standing" and to the fact that, "if the passengers ... are obviously less than half-caste ... they need not be restricted at all." AA (NSW): C4203/1, Boarding Branch Circulars, 1914-1931, 281, Circular, Secretary to Collector of Customs, July 29, 1920.

(68.) See Williams, "Sojourn in Your Native Land," chap. 1, 11-32. For example, John Louie Hoon, born in Sydney in 1907, was declared "an Australian citizen apparently" in 1957, when attitudes had changed; AA (NSW), SP1122/1, N1952/24/3951, John Louie Hoon.

(69.) Lee, "At America's Gates," 258-59.

(70.) Fritz, "Due Process," 21-32.

(71.) Peffer, If They Don't Bring Their Women Here, 104.

(72.) Yarwood, Asian Migration to Australia, 50-51.

(73.) Using mortuary records to claim a deceased person to have been one's citizen parent was just one of numerous methods; NARA, RG85: Chinese Partnership Case Files, 1894-1944, 9190/2008B, Fong Ping.

(74.) Madeline Hsu, "Gold Mountain Dreams and Paper Son Schemes: Chinese Immigration Under Exclusion," Chinese America: History and Perspectives 1997 (San Francisco: Chinese Historical Society of America, 1997), 46-60.

(75.) Lee, "At America's Gates," 47.

(76.) Lucy E. Salyer, "Laws Harsh as Tigers: Enforcement of the Chinese Exclusion Laws, 1891-1924," in Chan, ed., Entry Denied, 84,n. 118, and 71, n. 67.

(77.) This is based on an examination of a range of immigration files in Sydney and San Francisco.

(78.) Between 1904 and 1906, for example, of 1,246 "section 6" merchants who attempted to enter the United States, 22 percent--or over 270 people--were denied and sent back to China; Lee, "At America's Gates," 249. For impacts of the procedures on a personal level, see Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung, Island. Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996).

(79.) NARA, RG 85: Return Certificate Application, Lawfully Domiciled Labourers Departing, 1903-1911; 9180/1720, Fong Hong, record of interview, September 20, 1907.

(80.) "In effect, the [shipping] companies were compelled to assume the function of a first line of defence against coloured immigration"; Yarwood, Asian Migration to Australia, 53.

(81.) This occurred, for example, when the eighteen-year-old Norman Charles Aubrey Mar Young returned to Australia for the first time since his birth and his "white" grandmother was needed as a witness, AA (NSW), SP42/1; C20/1147, Norman Charles Aubrey Mar Young.

(82.) Examples are Peffer, If They Don't Bring Their Women Here, and Sucheng Chan, "The Exclusion of Chinese Women, 1870-1943," in Chan, ed., Entry Denied, 94-146. For a critique of this position, see Adam McKeown, "Transnational Chinese Families and Chinese Exclusion, 1875-1943," Journal of American Ethnic History 18, no. 2 (1999): 76-110.

(83.) For a comparison between two countries (Canada and Thailand) with and without restrictions, see Woon Yuen-Fong, "The Voluntary Sojourner among the Overseas Chinese: Myth or Reality?" Pacific Affairs 56 (Winter 1983/84): 673-90.

(84.) Lee, "At America's Gates," xx.

(85.) Lee, "At America's Gates," 67-68.

(86.) According to Erika Lee, 150 women a year were entering under this category; Lee, "At America's Gates," 70-71.

(87.) McKeown, Chinese Migrant Networks, 32.

(88.) In 1929, for example, a Department of Labor report found that 770 Chinese citizens had reported 1,973 sons and 169 daughters; San Francisco Chronicle, October 9, 1929, 13.

(89.) Yarwood, Asian Migration to Australia, 112-14.

(90.) Wilton, "Chinese Voices, Australian Lives," 175.

(91.) Williams, "Sojourn in Your Native Land," 15.

(92.) Based on research of United States immigration files for my forthcoming dissertation; see note 5 above.

(93.) Although Sydney is closer to Hong Kong than San Francisco is, it is unlikely that this made the difference. In the 1930s, it took three weeks to get from Sydney to Hong Kong (about 4,500 miles) and cost about $130Mex, whereas from San Francisco it took four weeks (6,800 miles) and cost $160Mex.

(94.) Interview with William Lowe, San Francisco, July 6, 2001, and also with several members of the Berkeley Chinese Christian Church, July 20, 2001, to whose Seniors Group an early version of this paper was presented.

(95.) In 1916, the cost of a "slot" was $1,500 to $1,600, or perhaps $100 per year of age; Lai, Island, 47, and Jeff Gillenkirk and James Motlow, Bitter Melon (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1987), 43. Siyi pingbao [Four Counties news], May 3, 1917,4, warns of the dangers for those entering Peru illegally

Michael Williams, a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Hong Kong, is researching the relationship between the Pearl River Delta villages, particularly those of Zhongshan county, and the Pacific ports of Sydney, Honolulu, and San Francisco from 1849 to 1949. From this research he has developed an interest in comparative studies of Australia and the United States.
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Date:Jan 1, 2003
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