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Hong Kong Immigration
In the mid 1990s, over ten thousand immigrants from Hong Kong settled in British Columbia every year. A sharp increase compared to the 1980s, when only a total of approximately twenty-one thousand emigrants yearly left Hong Kong to settle in all destinations across the world. The driving force that led to this massive exodus was the dread of the disintegration of Hong Kong’s sovereignty due to the handover to the communist People’s Republic of China. The residents in Hong Kong at the time believed that this will lead to the loss of their wealth and freedom. However, staying in their homeland would be a more culturally, politically and economically beneficial choice for the Hong Kong people compared to immigrating to BC at the turn of the century. China was the world’s largest untapped market in the 1700s, and inevitably, it turned into a target of economic exploitation by the western powers, especially Britain. Hong Kong’s development was similar to the rest of China at the end of the Qing dynasty. Its geographic location of natural harbors allowed it to serve as a connection between the Chinese and the western traders. Throughout the early phases of trade, traditional Chinese goods such as tea and silk were exchanged solely for gold and silver, as they were the only items that the Chinese appealed to. By the mid 18th century, the Canton System was implemented to restrict trade with the west within China and in order to preserve its own markets. It limited the ports that can be used for business and included policies such as no trading with Chinese civilians. Caucasian merchants soon realized that the one-way trade was not very profitable especially under these strict policies, in addition, as the demand for Chinese products increased so did the prices. They sought for opium as a cheap and effective solution. The typical example is the British East India Company; they harvested opium from India cheaply and imported them to China through the ports of Canton and Hong Kong. As more Chinese people became addicted to the drug, it became easier for the West to exploit China and the diplomatic tensions strained between China and Britain. This eventually led to the opium war which lasted from 1839-1842. Britain won, and the treaty of Nanking concluded it. This treaty forced the Qing government to pay the British a high amount of money to make up for the losses during the war and the Chinese attempts to eliminate opium. The treaty also allowed British troops to stay in Guangzhou and “lease” the island of Hong Kong to Britain for 99 years. The attitude of the local Hong Kong people were relatively neutral, some supported the lease because of the power of the British Empire, while others were patriotic. There were, however, no uprisings and protests as there were little that the people could do to make changes. Hong Kong’s development soared as a capitalist colony of Britain. It served as a free trading port for the British Empire and its economy shifted from being opium dominated to the service sector, including banking, shipping and merchant companies. The British also developed its colony physically, building from infrastructure to skyscrapers. They not only brought wealth into its colony, but also the same education system. Although not everybody could afford such education at the time, it would eventually leave a legacy. As a result of all these improvements, the people of Hong Kong naturally preferred their lives as colonists in contrast to joining back the poor socialist China in the late 1990s under the agreement of the treaty. The Chinese economy was on the rise in the second half of the
As the date of annexation approached. Thatcher agreed with the handover. After the 1885 legislation failed to deter Chinese immigration to Canada. diplomats. and when Margret Thatcher visited China for Hong Kong and threatened with military invasion. However. After hearing this. British Columbia was one of the favorite destinations for the Hong Kong emigrants. The people of Hong Kong faced much discrimination during the time as a British colony. equivalent to $8000 in 2003. The cost of immigration was another important factor. The Chinese Immigration Act. better known as the Chinese Exclusion Act. The British also wanted to keep its colony in Asia. Despite the popular beliefs. The Hong Kong people feared that their wealth would be redistributed by the Chinese Communist Party just as when Mao took power from the Kuo Ming Tang (Chinese Nationalist Party). China was also relatively politically unstable. The government of Canada passed The Chinese Immigration Act. Appreciating and benefitting as a British colony. and further reduced to $490 in 2006. more and more Hong Kongers emigrated to Europe and previous British colonies such as Canada and Australia. 1900 to increase the tax to $100. and "special circumstances" cases. the 1989 incident when Deng ordered to shoot students in Tiananmen square caused an upheaval because it not only showed how autocratic the government could be. BC also shares a similar cultural environment with Hong Kong as it was also previously a British colony. Deng replied that sovereignty is sacred and China is willing to fight. It had a great natural environment in comparison with the industrializing China. 1885 levying a "Head Tax" of $50 on any Chinese coming to Canada. however it had a long distance to catch up if it wants to be in Britain’s economic standards. As the closest province to Asia in Canada. 1923. Hong Kong’s annexation with mainland China was a major push factor that caused the massive exodus of 1990s. however Deng Xiaoping was determined to get it back. thus a capitalist ideology that differs from socialism in China. and it ended with the Chinese annexation in 1997. Since the . The Chinese that entered Canada before 1924 had to register with the local authorities and could leave Canada only for two years or less. replaced prohibitive fees with an outright ban on Chinese immigration to Canada with the exceptions of merchants. or Right of Permanent Residence Fee. of merely $975 per person paid by new immigrants in 1995–2005.twentieth century after the Deng Xiaoping took power and reformed many of Mao’s socialist policies. as compared to the Right of Landing Fee. Britain at this time had just won the Falklands war. many Chinese were left with no work and no longer seen as useful to both the CPR and the Canadian government. students. most of the people in Hong Kong preferred to keep the situation as it was. and The Chinese Immigration Act. racism towards the Chinese remained strong in the second half of the 20th century even though it was dramatically reduced compared to the gold rush period. staying in Hong Kong was in fact more advantageous than coming to BC. 1903 further increased the landing fees to $500. After the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed. but also the limitations to freedom in expressing one’s political opinions in public. the government of Canada passed The Chinese Immigration Act.
After legislation in 1896 that stripped Chinese of voting rights in municipal elections in B. From the completion of the CPR to the end of the Exclusion Era (1923–1947). they have faced discrimination. The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association requested its members to purchase Canadian and Chinese war bonds and to boycott Japanese goods. although Chinese numbers in BC continued to grow and.Exclusion Act went into effect on July 1. Chinese communities greatly contributed to Canada's war effort. with the first branch in Victoria in 1885 and the second one in Vancouver in 1895. mainly in an attempt to persuade Canada to intervene against Japan in the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Association was mandatory for all Chinese in the area to join and it did everything from representing members in legal disputes to sending the remains of members who died back to their ancestral homelands in China. not just Chinese. and Chinese cooks became the mainstay in the restaurant and hotel industries as well as in private service.C. However. However. Chinese success at market gardening led to a continuing prominent role in the produce industry in British Columbia. The electors list in federal elections came from the provincial electors list. many Chinese enlisted in the Canadian forces. 1941). With legislation banning Chinese from many professions. Chinese initially found it hard to adjust and assimilate into life in Canada. the Chinese in B. Also. since they did not want Chinese to ask for enfranchisement after the war.C. 1923. These Chinese opened grocery stores and restaurants that served the whole population. . their families could come to Canada. Even though they became citizens of Canada. government were unwilling to send Chinese-Canadian recruits into action. Chinese merchants formed the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. until the 1960s. they formed ethnic enclaves known as "Chinatowns" where they could live alongside fellow Chinese immigrants. As with many other groups of immigrants. 1939. Chinese in Canada lived in mainly a "bachelor's of the backpack society" since most Chinese families could not pay the expensive head tax to send their daughters to Canada. there were no significant populations of Chinese in any other province. Chinese entered professions that non-Chinese Canadians did not want to do like laundry shops or salmon processing. and the provincial ones came from the municipal one. They could become Canadian citizens. which had started in 1937 (although Canada did not declare war on Japan until the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7. with 90. But Ottawa and the B.C. As a result. After Canada entered World War II on September 10..000 British troops captured in the Battles of Malaya and Singapore in February 1942. Chinese at the time referred to Dominion Day as "Humiliation Day" and refused to celebrate Dominion Day until after the act was repealed in 1947. After the railway was finished. Ottawa decided to send Chinese-Canadian forces in as spies to train the local guerrillas to resist the Japanese Imperial Forces in 1944. Chinese settlers began moving eastward after the completion of the CPR. became completely disenfranchised.
. as the outcome of World War II had been more or less decided by that time.these spies were little more than a token gesture.
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