Ouyang Yu


Chinese first came to Australia as indentured labourers in 1848, then as gold-diggers from 1850s onwards. When the gold-rush ended, many turned to other occupations, such as market-gardening, street-hawking and cooking. Their representations in Australian literature have been subject to rabid racism from early on, particularly from 1888 when anti-Chinese sentiments reached their height. In the Bulletin writing, for example, Chinese are often portrayed as the heathen Chinee who commit all sorts of crime from gambling, opium-smoking and prostitution to stealing and spreading disease like leprosy and small pox. When the 'White Australia' policy was established in 1901, the lower order of the Chinese was gradually assimilated but remained an odd, exotic sight on the Australian landscape, ignorant, funny, docile and loyal to the master. They are not really what they are but what Australians want them to be and represented as such, to suit the purpose of assimilation and domination, as a result of racism and nationalism.



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