Publication Details

Martinez, J. T. (2015). Chinese politics in Darwin: interconnections between the Wah on society and the Kuo Min Tang. In S. Couchman & K. Bagnall (Eds.), Chinese Australians, Politics, Engagement and Resistance (pp. 240-266). Netherlands: Brill.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Brill Online

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9789004288508


In the 1920 and 1930s Chinese political activism in Darwin in northern Australia was roughly divided between the Kuo Min Tang, founded in 1924, and the older Wah On Society. Darwin had a majority Chinese population in 1911 and despite the effects of the White Australia policy the community maintained strong numbers through its Australian-born children. Before 1924 the Wah On Society was the main force in Chinese politics, concerning itself with community issues such as the temple, the aged and maintaining links to China. Its members also addressed the Australian government on matters of immigration, trade and employment - identifying themselves as the merchants of Darwin. With the advent of the Kuo Min Tang, and the related Chinese Recreation Club in 1923, the role of the Wah On Society was diminished. They maintained many responsibilities, such as celebrating Chinese New Year and raising funds for China, but Kuo Min Tang and Chinese Recreation club officials were more vocal on women's and workers' rights, segregation in sports, and immigration restriction. Differences of opinion arose between young and old, the left and right wing, and over which group best served the Chinese Consul and the goals of modern China.