Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Ages of Conquest: a Kings and Generals Podcast

Jul 3, 2023

Last time we spoke about the final days of the first Sino-Japanese War, the invasion of the Pescadores Islands, Taiwan and the Treaty of Shimonoseki. The Japanese had taken Port Arthur, Weihaiwei and were on the verge of marching upon Beijing. The Qing were slow to action on the negotiation front leading to three attempts to reach a peace agreement. However in the meantime the Japanese prolonged things for just enough time to allow their amphibious forces to invade the Pescadore islands and Taiwan. Li Hongzhang became the scapegoat for the entire conflict and was forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Shimonoseki. However in the end it would also be Japan getting served a nasty deal because of the Triple Intervention of Germany, France and Russia. The balance of power in the east had dramatically changed, and with change comes movement, the movement of many people, all over the world.


#55 This episode is, Overseas Chinese


Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more  so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War.

I did not know when I was going to tackle this subject, but I figured after the first Sino-Japanese war would be a good place. The 1890’s-1900 is a sort of odd window of time for China where a lot of change occurs. When I was doing my undergraduate in History, a requirement of my University was to take a certain amount of courses in specific fields of history, one was Canadian history as I am from Quebec and its just forced on you. In one of those courses I had to spend an extensive amount of time learning about the Chinese-Canadian experience, particularly during the end half of the 19th century. Now I know the majority of you listeners are American and probably know the general history of Chinese immigration to America during the 19th century. For Canada is quite similar, first thing that comes to mind for all of you I imagine is the railroad work. Its a fundamental part of both America and Canada’s history, the building of some of the great railroads and unfortunately the terrible mistreatment of Asian immigrants. In this episode however I don’t want to just talk about Canada and the United States, because in truth, Chinese immigration saw Chinese going to all sorts of nations, for various reasons. I also believe it gives us a better understanding of all the events we have spoken about and how they affect the common person.

There are more than 50 million Oversea Chinese today, most of them are in Southeast Asia, in places like Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand and such. They represent one of the highest figures of immigration in the world. Their migration goes back to ancient times, roughly 2000 years ago during the opening of the maritime silk road. Chinese immigrants were moving mainly to Southeast Asia. When the 15th century came around, Chinese began moving to places like Sumatra and Java, establishing what we call today, Chinatowns. Where trade went, so did the Chinese and by the 16th century trade began to pick up with Europe. Europeans began to establish themselves in the Far East, looking to trade and in the process integrated numerous places within a world trade network. European powers began to compete with another to expand and develop colonies in places like Southeast Asia and this in turn increased a demand for Chinese merchants and laborers. When the 17th century rolled around, there was an estimated 100,000 or so Chinese scattered about Southeast Asia and 20-30 thousand perhaps in Japan. Many Chinese came over during the Wokou years, setting up bases in Japan to help raid mainland China as pirates. When the Manchu conquered the Ming dynasty, numerous Chinese refugees fled to Japan to escape Manchu rule. 

Now its during the 19th century when we really begin to see massive movements to the far reaches of the globe. When the age of colonialism was at its height so too would Chinese immigration be at its height, and with it a diaspora began. By the starting of the 19th century, millions of Chinese pulled up stakes and left for unfamiliar and faraway places, why? During the final century of the Qing dynasty, China began to struggle with mounting challenges as I think we all have seen in this series. These problems were both internal and external in nature.

Internally, the Qing had doubled their territory, incorporating areas in the north and west which were sparsely populated, adding ethnic and religious diversity to the empire. There were Manchu, Hans, Mongolians, Tibetans, Muslims and such. Alongside this, the population exploded because of new irrigation and water management techniques that were helping tackle China’s most troublesome historic nemesis, floods and droughts. New crops had come over from the America’s such as corn, sweet potatoes and peanuts. The new foodstuffs could be grown in areas of China that historically always had trouble growing stuff, allowing for new lands to be expanded upon such as the southwest and northeast. As the nutrition improved, China’s population exploded. By 1740 the Qing dynasty numbered 140 million, but by 1850 this increased to a whopping 430 million. Population growth holds numerous benefits to a nation, such as increasing economic activity, but it can also cause great strain. China took a very very long time to industrialize. In the early half of the 1800s, most Chinese supported themselves through farming, but with the population booming, less and less land pushed more and more to find new lands.

The Qing government meanwhile, as we have seen in this series, proceeded to become incredibly corrupt. Their officials neglected the common people and engaged in corruption purely to enrich themselves, and they gradually became more and more inept at governance. With a corrupt government and a booming population of dissatisfied people, 19th century China was ripe for conflict. The first major one was the White Lotus Rebellion of 1796-1804. It broke out in response to famine, overcrowding of land and from the harassment by corrupt Qing officials. The cult lashed out, resulting in the deaths of millions and costing the Qing dynasty nearly 100 million taels. Then the First Opium War broke out against Britain resulting in a humiliating defeat and the beginning of unequal treaties upon China. After this, the worst civil war in history, the Taiping rebellion broke out, yet again during a time of famine, with another cult, the Taiping led by Hong Xiuquan who nearly toppled the Qing Dynasty leading to the death of over 20 million or so people. Alongside the Taiping was the Nian rebellion and the second opium war, inviting more death and humiliating treaties tossed upon China. The Dungan revolt killed another 10 or so million people, causing countless Hui Muslims to flee into surrounding neighboring states. 

The turmoil of the mid 19th century caused terrible suffering on the people of China whether it be from drought, famine, war, governmental harassment or simply incompetence and when this becomes your everyday life, what do you do to improve it? Well after witnessing such foreign barbarians nearly toppling your government multiple times, showcasing technologies you’ve never seen before, you might get curious what its like in their nations. Once the bans were lifted Christian missionaries were pouring into China from these nations. These people didn’t not simply sail over to China either, in the mid 19th century the invention of steamships made sea crossings much faster and safer. With steamships came railroads, a much more efficient way to move raw materials and people across land. Steamships and railroads would have a profound effect on China. The construction of railroads required a lot of work, particularly dangerous work of clearing land and laying tracks. European colonies, the Americas, Southeast Asia, Oceania and other far reaching places had enormous demand for laborer, whether it be in construction, agriculture, mining, railway building, etc. Plantations for rice, rubber, fruit, sugar, tea, hell the mining of guano was huge, talk about a shitty job. Like we see today, companies sought cheap and exploitable pools of labor to fit their demands, many of them turned to China. China because of the Opium wars and later the First Sino-Japanese War had opened up countless treaty ports, she was burst open.

Now there were fundamentally two rationales for Chinese migration, the first being flight and the second economic. Flight refers to those literally driven to flee where they were because of war, famine, disease, natural disasters, terrible government and persecution. Economic refers to the drive to just improve one’s life, maybe the grass is greener on the other side as they say. Both of these rationales could lead to temporary move or permanent and it did not necessarily mean leaving China either, let's not forget a ton of internal moving was occurring. 

Now during the Taiping Rebellion as the violence escalated countless people fled. Take for example the wealthy class, whenever Taiping entered an area, obviously these people feared losing everything as the Taiping confiscated all wealth. Therefor countless fled to newly opened treaty ports like Shanghai where foreign protection was to be found. They began dealing with the foreigners and discovered some mutual interests. This was a large reason places like Shanghai and Hong Kong were transformed into booming sophisticated cities. But for the countless common people, the Taiping-Qing war saw a large mobile population, wandering wherever seemed safe at the time. Many of these people fled to provinces in the southwest and southeast of China. When the war ended, major food and tax producing provinces were de-populated, take Jiangsu for example which saw 70% of its population of around 24 million people. Anhui and Zhejiang lost around 50% of their respective 15 million or so people. When the war was finally over, the flight migrants did not all return. Hubei, Hunan and Henan saw a ton of their people simply pack up and set up shop east.

A lot of people also fled into Manchuria which had always been sparsely populated, even though it was one of the richest areas for agriculture and natural resources. The Qing had always limited migration to Manchuria, trying to protect the Manchu homelands, but beginning in the 1860’s the Qing leadership had a change of heart. There were two major reasons for this; number 1 the Taiping rebellion had ravaged the governmental budget, prosperous agricultural regions that provided a ton of tax revenue were depopulated. China had indemnity payments to pay the British and French, money needed to be made, so the Qing began selling land in Manchuria and increased taxes upon it once it started to become more productive. The second reason was Russia. Russia was encroaching into Manchuria, and the Qing worried its sparse population would leave it vulnerable, so they opened the doors to the Han to help out. Now it was not just the Russian encroaching into Manchuria, the Japanese also had their eyes on the region. As I explained briefly towards the end of last episode, the Russians basically swindled the Japanese with the triple intervention, managing to seize a 25 year lease over the Liaodong peninsula in 1898. The Russians quickly went to work developing the region's agriculture, mining and crucially its railways. All of this required the pumping of money into Manchuria further building up the desire for Chinese migration to fill the large demands. Now this was all internal movements, what about the external?

Millions of Chinese responded to the international demand for labor during the mid to late 19th century, taking them first to Southeast Asia, and then to all the corners of the world. The major reason they were able to do this in large scale was because of the new steamships and the increase of foreigners inside China telling them about the various nations they came from. The majority of early migrants came from the wealthy class, who sought to move their families and businesses abroad. These types of businesses were typically, Luandromats, stores, restaurants and such. They mostly came from Guangdong and Fujian as southern China was in turmoil due to the opium trade and Taiping Rebellion. Southern China had become fertile grounds for western companies to come over and recruit or even Shanghai laborers. The British picked up Chinese and brought them to build up their colonies in Malaya and Singapore, while the Dutch brought them over to Sumatra. They worked in sweltering hot plantations, for tea, rubber, rice, fruit or in the great tin mines of Malaya for example. 

This all of course becomes quite dark, I briefly talked about the “pig trade”, the pigs being Chinese coolies who were either hired or kidnapped into indentured servitude overseas. Britain had outlawed slavery in 1807, but the experience for these poor souls would be very reminiscence of the western african slave trade. The term “shanghaied” comes from this time, when Chinese were sometimes drugged up or boozed up and tossed onto ships going to various places like Trinidad, British Honduras, Jamaica, New South Wales, British Guiana, Peru, Cuba, all over really. Now the Pig trade was quite reviled, take this passage from 1852 by foreign secretary Lord Malmesbury “iniquities scarcely exceeding those practiced on the African coast and on the African middle passage have not been wanting…the jails of China [have been] emptied to supply ‘labour’ to British colonies…hundreds [of coolies] gathered together in barracoons, stripped naked and stamped or painted with the letter C (California), P (Peru) or S (Sandwich Islands) on their breasts, according to destination.” It was actually the gradual abolition of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery itself that rose the demand for Chinese coolies. The British were the pioneers on this front sending 200 Chinese laborers over to Trinidad in 1806 to quote “in an attempt to establish a settlement of free peasant cultivators and laborers” these initial shipments saw Chinese on vessels that had been used to transport African slaves in previous years. The Trinidad experiment failed, only 20 to 30 of the 200 Chinese remained on the island by the 1820’s, however such stories inspired people like Sir John Gladstone to bring Chinese over to sugar plantation in British Guiana in the hopes of replacing the lost Afro-Caribbean workforce because the slave trade was coming to an end.

Now the logistics of coolie labor were, murky lets say. Most in theory were under contract, paid, to be temporary, one would say consensual. Regardless many in Britain rightfully saw how horrible it was and tried to fight to end the trade or at least improve conditions for the Chinese coolies. Many of these humane reformers argued the Chinese would be tricked into signing employment contracts based on misleading promises, often kidnapped or even sold by coolie merchants within China. Yes a lot of these unfortunate men, had debts, like gambling debts and their lenders simply sold them off. But there were many who volunteered, because they were offered free passage and paid something like 20 cents per day. While I have been focusing on the British, everyone was in the game somewhat, take for example the Portuguese who held Macao which was the center of the coolie trade. It was said from 1848-1873 Macao’s only real business was trading coolie slaves, and eventually it became so bad the British forced them to ban it. Spain sent Cuba two large shipments of Chinese Coolies in 1847 to work the sugar fields in Havana, these men came from Xiamen, one of the treaty ports that opened after the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. When Guangdong opened up, Peru saw a ton of Chinese coolies come over to work in their silver mines and in guano cultivation. When their contracts were up, many integrated into the countries of Peru, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Cuba. Before 1959 when the Cuban revolution broke out, Havana held latin americans largest Chinatown, a result of the coolie trade. South America saw around 100,000 Chinese indentured laborers come over between 1850 and the late 1870s. The most vulnerable would be those poor souls deceived by false contracts or kidnapped who saw themselves basically thrown into slavery. For the majority who went to Cuba and Peru this was to be the case. After a 4 month grueling journey crammed onto a ship like a sardine, they would arrive to be met with cruelty and abuse. Most would find their contracts were written in such a way that it would make it nearly impossible for them to ever repay the cost of their passage, which was not covered for, also housing and food. When reports began to surface between 1847-1854 about the abuse of those going to Cuba and Peru, British tried to take responsibility by closing ports sending these people off in China, such as Amoy, but this simply led Macao to become the largest coolie port in the end. Hell some of these Chinese participated in the War of the Pacific known also as the Saltpeter war, where they burned down many of the haciendas they worked for. 2000 Chinese coolies joined a Chilean Army in Peru helping the wounded and burying the dead. The Germans brought some over to German Samoa to work on their plantations which only ended during WW1 when Anzac seized such islands. The French shipping of Chinese coolies to Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, the French west indies and such, as this also involved Indian coolies.

Then came the age of Gold Rushes, all around the world large scale gold rushes emerged, in Oceania, Africa, South American and North America. In Australia the population tripled from 430,000 in 1851 to 1.7 million in 1871, making Australia the first multicultural society during the gold rush period. The gold rush began in may of 1851 after a prospector named Edward Hargraves claimed to have discovered gold in Ophir. Hargreaves had been to California’s goldfields learning gold prospecting techniques such as panning and cradling. Victoria would see the first large goldrush in July of 1851 and word spread fast. 290,000 migrated to Victoria from British territories, 15,000 from European nations, 18,000 from the US, but not all were welcome. In 1855, 11,493 Chinese arrived in Melbourne, which saw Victoria enact the Chinese immigration act of 1855 in response. This severely limited the number of Chinese passengers permitted on an arriving vessel, but to evade the new law, many Chinese began landing in southern parts of Australia and would hike it sometimes 400kms across the country to get to the Victoria goldfields. In 1865 Richard Daintree discovered the Cape River Goldfield which soon attracted Chinese to Queensland for the first time. In 1872 James Mulligan discovered gold in the Palmer River around Cooktown, seeing 3 years of waves upon waves of Chinese prospectors. By 1977 over 18,000 residents were Chinese miners.

I wanted to leave the United States and Canada for last if you were wondering, as I think they are the most well known stories of Chinese immigration. Also there are numerous nations I could not cover, this story is far too expensive I do apologize. So lets start with a very popular story, that of the great Californian Gold rush. In 1848 James W Marshall found Gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. The news soon brought over 300,000 people to California. While most were Americans, the gold rush also attracted thousands from Latin America, Oceania, Europe and China. The Chinese began arriving in 1849, the first major rush was to Gum San nicknamed “Gold Mountain” by the newly arrived Chinese. In 1849, around 90,000 people had come over, of which around 50-60 thousand were american. By 1852 20,000 Chinese had landed in the San Francisco area. Their distinct dress and appearance made them particularly recognizable in the goldfields and they were met with a ton of racism and violence. The American miners were frustrated with all the foreigners encroaching and the Chinese were easier target than other groups. Initially the Chinese worked for themselves or labored with other miners, but the American miners began to press upon the government to thwart more Chinese from coming over. The California legislature passed a foreign miners license law in 1850, charging non-US citizens 20$ per month. The law would be repealed within a year because of how exorbitant the fees were. This did not dissuade the Chinese who would go on to found America’s first Chinatown in San Francisco, where by 1852 the Chinese now accounted for 30% of all immigrants. In response the California legislature passed another foreign miners tax now at 4$ per month. Many Chinese thrived during this time despite the hurdles they faced. Chinese mining companies like John China Placer Mining company and Hong Kong China Wing Dam company hired up to 20 workers and provided industrial equipment, expanding large scale operations. Small scale workers cooperatives amongst the Chinese also thrived in the 1850’s which operated similar to the larger companies, using a share-risk system amongst workers. Many Chinese also chose to work for wages from white employers. Its estimated though it varies greatly, that Chinese miners were making around 39-50 dollars a month which would have been around the average wage for white miners. But as you can imagine there was much hardship, and the violence could get incredibly bad. Take for example what is known as the Hells Canyon Massacre. In 1887 two groups of Chinese miners headed to Oregon’s Hells canyon to search for gold. On May 25th of 1887, 7 White Horse gang members, these were horse thieves, they robbed, murdered and mutilated between 10-34 of the Chinese miners who were employee’s of the Sam Yup company. Its said they stole up to a possible 50,000$ worth in gold. Historian David H Stratton described the massacre as such, 

The brutality of the Snake River atrocity was probably unexcelled, whether by whites or Indians, in all the anti-Chinese violence of the American West. After the first day's onslaught at Robinson Gulch, the killers wrecked and burned the camp and then threw the mutilated corpses into the Snake River. The bodies of the other Chinese received similar treatment. Since it was the high-water stage of the spring runoff, the dead Chinese were found for months (some accounts say for years) afterwards along the lower river.” On the 26th more Chinese showed up to investigate the scene and 8 were shot dead by the gang. Later on in 1888 one Frank Vaughn confessed to taking part in the crime giving up the names of 6 associates. Most had departed america save for Vaughn and another man named Hughes. Their gang leader, Bruce Evan’s known as “old blue” was blamed for everything, but he escaped custody.

Now by the 1860’s the goldrush was quieting down, leaving many Chinese looking for work and they found it in railway construction. The first major railway seeing Chinese workers was the first transcontinental railroad which linked up California to the eastern united states. Construction began in 1863 with terminal points at Omaha, Nebraska and Sacramento. Despite the Goldrush raising California's population, a large number of Chinese were recruited in 1865 to help build up the railway. Many of these were former gold or silver miners and it was Charles Crocker a manager of the Central Pacific Railroad who was one of the first trying to hire Chinese. As he pointed out to his colleagues, hiring Chinese as opposed to whites as they cost a third of the salary. Crocker also pointed out they could hire the Chinese immigrants to do much of the grueling work and particularly the dangerous jobs. Crocker soon broke records for laying track, finishing the project 7 years ahead of time. This was due to the fact he worked the men to down to the bones. The central pacific track was constructed primarily by Chinese, Crocker initially hired every Chinese he could find in California, but soon began importing Chinese workers directly from China. The railroad had to pass over river and through canyons requiring bridges to be made and tunnels to be blown open. Many of the Chinese workers would be sent into tunnels to break through using hand tools and black power bombs. To tunnel through places like the the foothills of Sierra Nevada, the Central Pacific began to use the newly invented but extremely unstable Nitro-glycerine explosives, aka TNT. This greatly accelerated the rate of construction and deaths for the poor Chinese workers who used them. The work often saw Chinese workers tossed in large baskets with the explosives down to hard to reach areas, they would lit the fuse and the basket would be pulled as fast as it could away from the blast area, not safe. Over 11,000 Chinese took part in the project and they made up 90% of the work effort. A large portion of them came from Guangdong, recruited through a network of small firms and labor contractors. Its estimated around 1000 Chinese died building the Central Pacific Railroad. 

Now as the Chinese came to the US for the Goldrush and then railroad construction, they were met with a lot of racism, violence and legislative efforts. I mentioned the American miners pushing for legislation against them, but when the Chinese began working on the railways this greatly expanded. In the 1870’s various legal discriminatory measures were being made against the Chinese. In San Francisco Chinese school children from 1859-1870 were segregated, but in 1870 the requirement to educate them was simply dropped. Also in 1870 the Naturalization act which extended citizenship rights to African Americans specifically barred Chinese on the grounds they could not be assimilated into American society. Chinese immigrants were thus prohibited from voting, jury duty (which lets be honest is a blessing) and faced alien land laws prohibited them from purchasing property or establishing permanent homes or businesses. In 1873 the Pigtail Ordinance, you heard that right, targeted Qing dynasty immigrants based on their Queues. The law required prisoners in San Francisco to have their hair cut within an inch of their scalp and any Qing citizens who went to prison and had their queues cut, meant they could not go back home until it grew back. The law was passed with the idea it would dissuade Chinese immigration. Two years later came the Page Act of 1875, barring Chinese women from entering the US. This was justified under the guise many who came over were performing sex work. In reality it was another measure taken to dissuade Chinese immigration. This was followed up in 1882 by the infamous Chinese exclusion act which prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers. All of this was strongly driven by frustrated American workers who saw the Chinese as a threat to their jobs. Miners and railway workers pressed unions which pressed the legislatures to toss countless anti-Chinese laws trying to dissuade them from coming to the US. With so much discrimination and hurdles tossed at them, the Chinese began moving somewhere else to make ends meet.

Chinese immigrants began arriving to the then Colony of Vancouver island in the late 1850’s looking for gold. The colony of British Columbia, much like California was seeing a gold rush. The first Chinese community was established in Barkerville where half its population were Chinese. Soon other Chinatowns emerged in Richfield, Van Winkle, Quesnellemouthe, Stanley, Antlery and Quesnelle forks. By 1860 the Chinese population of Vancouver island and British columbia was around 7000. Then in 1871, British Columbia agreed to join the confederation of Canada and one of its conditions to do so was for the new federal government of Canada to build a railway linking BC to Eastern Canada, yes its basically the exact same thing as California with the Eastern US. Prime Minister John A Macdonald along with numerous investors realized the project would be unbelievably expensive. They also realized they could cut costs by employing Chinese laborers, as Macdonald told Parliament in 1882 “it is simply a question of alternatives either you must have this labour or you can’t have the railway”. In 1880 Andrew Onderdonk, one of the main construction contractors in British Columbia for the new Canadian Pacific Railway began recruiting Chinese laborers from California. Learning from the Americans he also began importing Chinese workers from Guangdong and Taiwan. The Chinese workers were hired for the first 320 kms of the CPR which was considered to be the most difficult and dangerous segments, particularly the parts going through Fraser Canyon. Like their american counterparts they were paid much less than white Canadians, around 50% on the dollar. 

Between 1880-1885, 17000 Chinese workers came to build the CPR with around 700 dying due to the terrible work conditions. The CPR’s construction resulted in the establishment of Chinatowns along the rail line which further resulted in Chinese communities spreading across Canada. Following directly in the footsteps as the Americans, when the CPR was finished in 1884, the following year saw the infamous Chinese Head Tax. The Canadian government levied its first of many to come, anti chinese immigration acts, to discourage Chinese from coming to Canada. The head tax system stipulated all Chinese people entering Canada first had to pay 50$ ie: the head tax. This would be amended to 100$ in 1900, 500$ in 1903 and so forth. Because of this, basically no Chinese laborers could afford to bring over their families, though BC’s Chinese communities still grew.

In British columbia the perception of all the asians coming into the province, as it was not just the Chinese, many Japanese came over particularly for the fishing industry, well they perceived these people to be taking their jobs. Australia likewise had tossed up immigration restriction acts in 1901, the infamous “white australia policy” which eliminated asian immigration after their federation, and Canada would try the same. The Asian Exclusion League in Canada, yes there was a league just for this lobbied as much as they could to thwart Chinese immigration. I did not want to delve into the 20th century in this episode, but I did want to touch upon the violence that would occur in BC. In 1907 tension had increased, as more and more Asian immigrants were flooding over into BC from the US as a result of their anti chinese regulations, kind of a hot potato situation. By the end of October 1907 over 11,440 immigrants came over, 8125 were Japanese, 1266 Chinese and Sikhs made up 2049. Anti-Asian acts were blowing up and soon full blown riots spread. 

The Asian exclusion league developed a new immigration act, but the federal government refused to back it. This led to outrage which led to its members starting a parade on September 7th of 1907. This parade turned into a mob riot where Chinese and Japanese neighborhoods were attacked. Asian owned businesses were vandalized, beer bottles were tossed at windows, fires were lit, the rioters were trying to destroy businesses. They came to Japantown where armed Japanese residents fought back, over 50 stores had their windows broken in and the entire riot only died down around 3am. Labour Minister MacKenzie King, yes the soon to be Prime Minister of Canada conducted a commission into the riots finding the damage to be worth around 26,000$ for the Chinese community and 9000$ for the Japanese. The riot directly led to the 1908 “gentleman’s agreement”, one I might add not many people know about, not as notably as the head tax, but this was a secret agreement between Japan and Canada to restrict the number of passports issued to Japanese annually at under 400 peoples. It was a dark part of Canadian history.

I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me.

I do apologize if this episode is more on the gloomy side, but do not forget these asian communities are thriving today all around the world. I plan to do another episode on Overseas Chinese in the 20th century, so I hope you enjoyed this one and come back for some more!