Title:Chinese contract labour in the Pacific Islands during the nineteenth century
Author:Willmott, Bill
Subject:Chinese contract labour; contract labour, Pacific|contract labour|nineteenth century
Volume:Vol.27 no.2, 2004


This paper tells the stories of Chinese contract labour in the Pacific Islands from late in the eighteenth century, when John Meares first took Chinese tradesmen to Vancouver Island to establish a fur station, to the end of the nineteenth century. The sugar industry in Hawai‘i used Chinese labour throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, as did the Peruvian guano mines on the Chincha Islands, 1854–1880, where conditions were extremely bad. Stewart’s cotton plantation on Tahiti employed Chinese contract labour, 1865–1872, and the German colony of New Guinea, 1891–1903. Only two of these schemes (in Peru and Tahiti) led to permanent Chinese settlement, although contract labour in the early twentieth century also produced Chinese communities in Nauru and Western Samoa.
Original information
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