tv Mae Ngai The Chinese Question CSPAN November 21, 2021 5:45pm-6:46pm EST
at c-span history for more of the state in history posts. flex good evening everyone and welcome to the new york historical society. i am police and historical president and ceo for anyone who does not already know me. i am really over the moon to see so many of you this evening and our beautiful robert h smith auditorium. many of you for the first times in a long time so welcome back. tonight's program, the chinese
question global politics is part of our bernard and irene schwartz speakers series which is the heart of our public programs. as always i like to thank mr. schwartz for his great support which has enabled us to bring so many fine speakers to the stage. i would also like to recognize and thank one of our trustees who has joined us this evening, thank you so much for all you do on behalf of this great institution. i would also like to thank the germans council members with appreciated your encouragement along is very difficult. it will include a session for questions and answers you should have received a note card and pencil my colleagues are going up and down the aisle with cards and pencils for you to write your
questions on the note cards with your questions will be collected later on in the program. there will not be a formal book signing this evening. however signed copies will be available for sale in our ny history store on 77th street side of the building. tonight we are absently delighted to welcome family professor of asian-american studies and professor of history at columbia university. professor nye writes on immigration history for the "new york times", the "washington post", cnn and was featured in the film the chinese exclusion act directed by her own trustee rick burns. she is the author of the award-winning book and possible subjects, illegal aliens in the making of modern america. her newest book is the chinese question the gold rush and global politics. our moderator this evening
serves as the united states circuit judge for the u.s. court of appeals for the second circuit. he was confirmed in april 2010 and took senior status this past june. he served as the united states district judge for the southern district of new york where he presided over both civil and criminal cases including cases involving megan's law, the youth mart and united nations oil for food program. born in hong kong he was the first asian-american appointed a united states district judge outside the ninth circuit. just before we begin this evening, i would ask that you please make sure anything that makes noise like a cell phone is switched off and also as a put my mask back on please make sure you weren't is covering both your nose and your mouth hurt new york state law.
and now please join me in welcoming tonight special guest, thank you. [applause] it is great to be here in court by the way were still wearing our masks. giving permission to take our masks off. it's annoying when the lawyers and judges are all wearing the masks we do the best we can. it is my honor again to have a conversation with professor nye. we were together here in april of 2019. it seems like a lifetime ago.
she is one of the world's foremost authorities on immigration history and migration. >> and then we had a conversation about her book and possible subjects. professor nye has now published another book and as we were talking, the pandemic gave her a chance to finish it up. the chinese question, the gold rush and global politics. the chinese question has received rave reviews from the likes of the "new york times" and the wall street journal. it was a lengthy right up in the new yorker. and it took professor nye ten years to write the book. there's a nice line in the authors note at the beginning of the book.
not unlike panning for gold hard work and part luck. slowly revealing nuggets of insight. indeed he spent the last wreak weeding the book. there many nuggets in there. including intimate stories about the individuals, you illustrate your broader observations and conclusions with details about the participants, the gold miners, others. and my grandfather came to this country in 1916 illegally because of the chinese exclusion laws that you write about. he was not a gold miner, he was a laborer. he eventually became a waiter in chinese restaurants and gold was important to him even though he was earning small
wages he saved of his money and bought a gold rolex watch. which i still have and am afraid to wear. [laughter] tell us as a way of introduction, about the process of writing the book. how you conducted the research. flex sure. first i want to thank the new york historical society and thank you judge it is a real delight to be up here with you again. well, this book started with an annoyance i would say. a student of mine at columbia was writing a paper about california politics in the 19th century. he was writing about the workingman's party that coined the phrase the chinese must go. in his paper the chinese workers were coolies. they were indentured servants and therefore not free men not free laborers.
the working party were maybe a little racist but they had a point there is a competition from people like slaves. i said to him that is not true. that is like a big lie that is been repeated over and over again. so book it's in all of these books. and indeed this is the reigning story in american history books written by imminent historians. i realized that my words slay the cooling us. that was the impetus for the book. i believe that will be both an empirical question but what were the actually doing on the ground? they have a relationship a history of how this big light came to be and how it spread.
>> your knowledge take you to five different continents. >> it was also kind of by chance i was attending a conference and australia on chinese and australia. in the victorian midlands i say wow this looks just like northern california. and it really did. so i learned a little bit about the gold miners there and i said maybe i could compare the two places. i did not know what i would find. and then a year later and went to another conference in south africa and learn chinese are gone there at that time under contract to work in the deep goldmine of the ring end. so i had this idea i would follow them around the world and see what i could dig up. >> also had to do research in respect of what was happening in britain, and of course china as well. >> rate. the short answer is that the
politics of anti- chinese politics that person germinated in california, traveled throughout the world. it received attention and australia although in the beginning the of strains had a different view of the chinese. there is this outpost of the british empire close to china's teeming millions. as a fellow of the politics i could see it one level everything was local. on another level people talk to each other, they read each other's writings in a global discourse emerges. >> will come back to that in a little bit. let's do a little bit of an overview. first of all, what was the chinese question? >> the chinese question was simply, our chinese a menace to western societies? and should they be excluded?
that was the position of chinese exclusion is very radical idea in the late 19th century because it was a time of free trade and free migration. so aside from the insult to equality, it was a very novel idea of how to regulate global trade in persons and goods. >> free immigration, except for the chinese. so i have a few slides here. you talked about the gold rush in california, the gold rush and australia, and in south africa things were a little different. i have a few slides. i think most of these are from your book. so the first several are from california. they were white workers, working with the chinese workers. one of the things you do in your book does talk about all of the different techniques
for mining gold and what the chinese did and how it became industrial over time and the big companies came in. you also talked about chinese camps, chinese communities, chinese towns sprouting up. that happened not just in california but also in austria. could you talk a little bit about that? for example you talk about businesses that sprouted, how some gold miners became merchants, the food they ate, the conditions, can you talk a little note about those kinds of things? >> sure. what i found in the first days of the gold rush, chinese were like other gold seekers. they pitched tents. he came and organize themselves into small groups. in those groups were usually ethnic that was not just the
chinese but the irish stuck together, the germans stuck together. and as things progress, they would build little houses. primitive. but many of them still lived in tents or encampments near the gold fields. and some of them, as you said, became merchants because that is a different kind of gold-mining. you make money selling to the minors. until the thing that fascinated me was the chinese were both living in their own communities, they were also nested and bigger communities. they were not isolated from non- chinese. we went to the same markets, the same merchants, the chinese merchants also sold to white gold miners. they patronize the same establishment in town. the chinese developed specialties especially like
laundries. so there was actually more mixing going on and we commonly think about. >> there were differences. mostly men but they were also differences the laws you talk about some of the differences between california and australia. >> will california was particularly racist because they had laws against chinese that they could not marry whites. they just extended the laws they had against black people and native americans. chinese could not testify in court against a white person for they could not why marry a white person. those restrictions did not exist and australia. so and australia you had some instances of chinese weren't marrying white usually irish but also some english women, having children. that was a kind of, i do not want to say assimilation but a settlement that promoted because then they would raise
families, they pay taxes. so you have a different kind of chinese/strength community that grows up because you have a somewhat more inclusion for a quick some of the chinese men married white women and australia. >> rate. >> you mention the chinese not being permitted to testify against whites. there were actually a couple of cases that went up to the california supreme court. one, a white defendant assaulted a chinese victim. in the chinese victim was not permitted to testify against the crime committed against them. so the white defendant got off and that was upheld by the california supreme court. some years later a black defendant came along and said it is a violation of equal protection if a chinese witness can testify against me but not against a white person.
in the court agreed and said the chinese victim could not testify against the black assailant. where did that leave the chinese victims? and eventually the law was thrown out. i think that was a pretty typical of the attitude at the time. so this is an australia outside of a mining camp, this is from your book. this also from your book. tell us a little bit about this this is one of the businesses that sprouted up. >> writes. >> it is in black and white in your book. >> it is a drawing of a chinese restaurant. it is a drawing by a white person st. john's did not draw it himself. you can see they are not really chinese characters or
somebody's idea of what might be chinese characters. i think the point here is that it shows a community of people who are on the street. and they are not fighting with each other they are coexisting. >> some of the customers, diners appear to be white. >> yes, yes absolutely. >> and then i have one slide from south africa. south africa was a little different joint details about that? >> in california and australia the chinese were part of a large population of independent gold seekers. they came from all over the world. chinese were about a quarter of the mining population both california and australia during the gold rush era. 1852 may be 1870. but in south africa you had a different situation were independent mining was really over by the 1880s.
you had a highly industrialized, highly capitalized deep mining enterprise run by very wealthy, people like cecil rhodes made his fortune not just in diamonds but in gold-mining. after the south african war there is a shortage of labor had previously been supplied by native african workers to get the mines back up and running, they recruited chinese workers some 60000 who came all the way from north china mostly to work in the deep mines. they come on indentured contracts of three years and were confined pretty much two compounds on the mines. and under very strict discipline. and they too though, did not really submit.
they whipped them if they did not drill a certain number of inches a day. and if it did not work. they could not whip them into drilling more than they wanted too. there is a lot of conflict that takes place on the mines. >> at one point if they did not reach 36 inches of drilling they did not get paid it all. there were a lot of studies done, there was a research on the average distance and drilled by different racial groups and the chinese did really, really well for. >> they drilled the most benefit wasn't enough for the landlords and so they resisted the lash they resisted the withholding of food. >> when you say the lash of someone did not drill enough what would happen? >> they would likely be whipped.
by an overseer or by the manager. >> there are other really interesting things about the culture. for example there were no women, no chinese women to some of the chinese men checkup with african women. there were some homosexuality. all that was really fascinating as well. so, we have the chinese question and then you have the gold rushes in california and australia, you have the gold mining in south africa. how is the chinese question answered in these questions? were chinese a racial threat to white anglo-saxon countries and should chinese be barred from the countries? >> i do not think a reasonable person could say they were a
threat in the sense they did not take jobs from other national groups. they did not threaten other people with violence. they were like everybody else. they came to make in their pile. and like everybody on the gold field, people quarreled with each other, they fought with each other that was kind of normal in the heat of a goldrush. the reason why i focus on the gold rush is because it was the first occasion for chinese and whites to meet in large numbers on relatively equal terms. before this there were chinese he went as indentured to caribbean trance plantations. there were few whites were there were europeans who worked in the treaty ports like hong kong where there were very few europeans but here on the gold fields are large numbers of both chinese and whites coming together in
a very competitive and feverish environment. and out of that competition, theories were promulgated as to explain why this group should be excluded. >> will get to that in a minute, and all three country. >> ultimately the united states first in 1882 passes the first exclusion law. the british colonies, it takes longer in part because as part of the british empire they cannot just decide on their own what they want to do. so, great britain did not support categorical exclusion. it was willing to tolerate piecemeal measures and things like this. it took the australian colonies to federate as australia in 1901.1 the first laws they pass with the chinese exclusion law.
they did it under the banner of what they call whites australia. the white australia policy lasted until the 1970s. immigration laws were kept out not only chinese but south asians and other people of color. >> what about south africa? >> south africa is a little different. the white south africans say south africa was a white man's country also which is preposterous because native africans outnumbered whites five -- one. what they meant as it should be run by the whites. in the chinese action made south african politics messy and complicated it was introducing another racial group. there is already conflict with south asian workers who had been brought to work on sugar plantations and they were exclusion measures against them.
so, in all of these places it's also with the federation of south africa in 1910 they are able to pass a full on chinese exclusion. >> let's go back a little bit to the gold rushes and talked a little bit about the impact that the gold rush had not only on the frontiers, the local economies, but on the global economy. i had for example, no idea about the impact on san francisco. the businesses and trading with china. talk a little bit about that. >> rate. you know, there is more gold taken out of the earth between 1849 and 1900 that had been excavated in the previous 3000 years. this is a huge increase in the
world production of gold. which is made possible by the expansion of capitalist industrialized countries. to get that much gold out of the ground you have to have technology. you have to have capitol investment. you have to have migration of large numbers of people et cetera et cetera. the gold rush of the late teen h century transform the global economy. it enabled britain, which was the largest economic power at the time to push the rest of the industrialized world to until the gold monetary standard. so this is consequential for the united states because it's so much gold produced here finances the building of railroads, finances industry. individuals become rich from mining gold.
it is really a huge stimulus to the american economy in the decades after the civil war. if you think about the civil war as creating a national market the goals enables the market to really, really take off. >> there was a lot of trade for example he was part of it in the back and forth. >> the west wasn't trading with china for a long time even before the gold rush. the balance of economic power shifts a lot with the gold rush. china is on a silver system and so therefore when everybody goes to gold or the big countries go to gold than the price of silver relative to gold drop. china is in a more disadvantaged position because of that in the world trade. >> alright let's shift a
little bit. governor bigler there is an entire chapter on what you call bigler -ism. so governor bigler, who was he what did he do? >> he is the second governor of california. he came from the east. he came from pennsylvania. he was a democrat. and so during the lead up to the civil war he was what we refer to as a union democrat, a northern democrat he was not proslavery. when he ran for reelection it was a very close race. he gave speeches that blamed eight chinese migration for upsetting california or threatening the future of california. these were incendiary speeches that he gave it. he did it precisely to whip up
the mining districts. to get the voters there to vote for him. and so he won his reelection campaign in 1853 by at less than 1000 votes. it was i believe the first instance of using the chinese question or weapon icing it for partisan purposes. >> yes, he was using the chinese as a political ponds. >> calling them slaves, coolies and they are paid $5 a year, crazy stuff like that but it got people very agitated. >> wanted things he said is the chinese are taken the gold out of her ground, sending it back to china and providing california with no benefit. was that true? >> no it was not true. first about the gold miners from all over the world in california and they all sent money home.
>> many of them are immigrants. >> they were from france, australia, ireland, or ever. but also, the chinese like other minors put money into the california economy through merchants, but also through paying taxes, buying whatever things, commodities. and so the chinese leaders, the leaders of the chinese community produced reports that showed from tax receipts, customs roles and things like that that the chinese actually did contribute to the california economy. >> the minors of texas were a prime example. they were targeting the chinese and it's fascinating that the chinese were willing to pay. at one point even offered to negotiate to try to get it resolved. and there was this great fear
that the chinese would bring down wages. they were coolies, they were indentured slaves, that kind of thing. i do have a few slides of the weapon icing of the chinese question. there was a lot of this. a lot was with respect to unions. there was also the fear of what the chinese coolies would do to our women. that was always lurking there. building the chinese wall. building a wall is not something that is of recent. i have seen three different political cartoons from that era of building a wall to keep out the chinese. and this is 1882. it was not just california. this is in the book, tell us what this is.
>> this is a cartoon in a sydney newspaper called the bulletin. they devoted a whole issue to the chinese danger. here you see this horrid caricature of the chinese octopus and all of the horrible things they will do to the community from disease. robbery gambling, all of those things. >> this is actually a poster i believe it used in elections in britain but invoking the chinese question in south africa. and i believe this is in your book, right? it became a big issue in a number of elections for. >> 1906 the general election in england were the liberal
party and alliance with what would become the labour party, overthrew the tories after nearly 20 years of continuous rule. it was really striking the chinese question was the most excitable issue in that election. the chinese question in south africa there were no chinese in england. but what was going on in south africa became so inflammatory that it goes back to metropolitan politics and it becomes weaponize by the liberal party who raise the issue of england's proud tradition of abolitionism to oppose what they call chinese slavery. think they were hypocrites because they did not propose a free immigration of chinese and to servitude and indentured let them come as
free immigrants they just wanted them excluded. they oppose their enslavement but not their freedom. they did not want them slaves or otherwise. >> exactly. and all of this was a big factor in the exclusion laws. i don't think we mentioned but in the united states the chinese exclusion act was the first, i believe the only time a particular group was identified by race in terms of exclusion. and so we want to be a little bit delicate here. are we seeing echoes of this today? >> i do not believe history repeats itself. but i do think things that happen in the past have long after lives sometimes. and reproduce under new
conditions. so, you see a revival of the idea of the coolie in today's politics. it is provoked by different issues today. a lot of it is a competition between the united states and china, economic competition. i think the former presidents of the of blaming china for the coronavirus is just one small aspect of that. i think it has more to do with the relative position of the united states and china and the world economy. and this idea that both countries have, unfortunately, that each one's prosperity can only come at the expense of the other. you have i think both sides of very heavy nationalistic rhetoric. the fact competition with china redounds to chinese americans asian americans and we are than the target.
>> will come back to that at a moment. i want to go back to your notion of "slaying goliath" the coolie notice. and so, there was this ideology that the chinese were a coolie race and slaves, a threat to free labor, a threat to women. what rule did it play in the passage of the exclusion laws and the violence at which we will get to in a moment? and what efforts of the chinese make to fight than this? i think that's a big part. >> sure, sure. the charge of coolie is in or the idea chinese -- the idea wasn't just that chinese came under contracts.
but that there was something racial about chinese that made them inherently servile. inherently despotic because they were enslaved by other chinese as the theory went. and so, they were something about the chinese as a race of people that made them incapable of assimilating liberal ideas about democracy or freedom. and we can see that, we can see a light in that idea to politics today. many people kind of assume if they see an asian person they are a foreigner, right? you know they might be a second, third, fourth generation chinese-american. you see those effects. but, the idea that chinese were a race of slaves or a
race of coolies is where they could never be americans where they could never assimilate and that is why you have to exclude them. >> there were people all throughout fighting exclusion laws, educated, bilingual chinese. and you spent a fair amount of time including in australia could you talk a little bit about them and what you found? >> the merchants follow that follow it minors the same phenomenon happen they included chinese who were well educated.
they actually own ships or they can sign ships. some of them are quite wealthy and quite successful. >> they hired lobbyists to go back and look you see advertisements by lawyers offering services for habeas corpus proceedings. the other laborers were represented by high-priced lawyers, lawyers who represented banks and railroads. these associations pull their money i like very much you included letters and other
things to governor bigler port china man does not come here as a slave he comes for his desire for independence. >> let's move on to a history of violence. there has been a lot of discussion and the last year end a half about the violence against asian americans in part because of the pandemic and fears of the pandemic. and so you talk about this one old rocks of spring, wyoming 1885. do you want to tell us something about this one? >> at fox springs there was a coal mine that was owned by the big railroad the union pacific. there were both chinese workers and white workers at that coal mine. there were a fair number of
chinese. they actually earned the same amount of money. >> they were not bringing down wages? >> they earn the same wage. but the white miners wanted to have a strike and the chinese didn't. so that it is a difference of opinions but it erupted into a full-scale riot in which they burned down chinatown. they went through the minds and through the encampments and burned chinese alive. they dragged them out and beat them to death. there were quite diffuse a chinese who died to that. >> that killed 28 chinese laborers. you also mentioned in your book i do not have a slide, but it hell's a canyons in oregon. >> yes they just threw people into the river pray. >> 34 chinese gold miners were killed and their bodies were thrown into the snake river.
this is the los angeles massacre of 1871 believed to be the larges mass lynching in american history, 17 chinese men and boys hanged. the lithograph from 1880s. this showed the attitude. and i added this slide, this is seattle in 1886. and rioters literally rounded up 350 chinese. took them down to the wharf. put them on a steam ship to literally send them back to china. they only had enough money to pay for 97 affairs they could not pay for everyone. but many of the chinese left on their own. so, why the violence? what was the cause? and why does it continue?
>> while i think in that 19th century the west is a violent place in general. i would say that. and there was volatile politics. and ironically after the transcontinental railroad is completed in 1869, it does not bring prosperity to the west. it brings mass migration. it brings cheap manufactured goods to the east. it actually causes a depression and california. so you have conditions for people to revive the chinese question to say the unemployment is caused by the chinese. but i think there is a kind of, what historians call frontier violence that never really goes away with regard to people of color on the west coast.
there was a sizable black population on the pacific coast. many of them brought as slaves before the civil war. but it was never a very large population and chinese become the largest nonwhite population in the latter decades of the 19th century. they become the target of choice and convenience. you have this theory that has been germinating since bigler. >> i wanted to mention a couple of pandemic cases. i do not know if you are familiar with them. i have come across them in my teaching. there were two pandemic cases in 1900 in san francisco. the city passed ordinances and were worried about the bubonic plague. the ordinance required owning
the chinese to be inoculated. >> and only the chinese were quarantined for. >> the quarantine of chinatown , only chinatown. those cases the chinese sued and they prevailed. the court struck down in both cases the ordinances on equal protection. all right, we are winding down our timing is good here. some concluding thoughts, has the chinese question gone away? >> not really. it's always been just just beneath the surface it comes and goes. as i mentioned before, economic competition is a big factor in reviving the chinese question. and we live in a time now and this might be too provocative to say.
we live in a time now with climate change and inequality at its worst in a long time that i think there is a kind of i want to say a hoarding mentality among the world's elite. and hoarding means it is all for me and then for you. we see that in the united states previously that globally we see that and the threat of authoritarianism. and in many western countries in non-western countries as well. we live in very precarious times and it is in times like this that old racism become one of the arguments made against the chinese in the late 19th century is china such a big country. if you just let them go anywhere, everywhere they want they will take over the world.
quick sleeping giants, this is also climate related actually. they believe the temperance zone like north america, australia, of southern africa were meant for white people. because overpopulation and the industrial nations meant the white nations had to send their people somewhere else. and so they could not leave them open to chinese because they would just take over. : : >> i just want to end with this note i know a lot of programs at the historical society have to do with american and affirmation american history, frederick douglass made this speech in
1869 against chinese exclusion he said it is true there are a very large population of chinese, there are true, there are millions of them. he said let them come i believe migration is a human right, let them come and they will join and be part of making this country great, all of us together. i think that is astounding as an astounding insight that he had that he was not afraid of so-called too many chinese coming. he said we can all live together, i'm paraphrasing but that the threat of his argument. >> that's a great segue to the first question. >> were there any organizing groups both within and outside of the chinese community that were advocating for acceptance and fair treatment of chinese immigrants. >> that's a great question, there were. in addition to like people like frederick douglas. there were the christian
missionaries, who wanted to have good relations with chinese who did not think that they were evil or enslaved. there were men that i describe as liberal who upheld the constitution, who believed in principles of freedom and equality. but they were not a match for bigler risen, the native hatred that gets whipped up by politicians. their voices were drowned out. >> one of the examples that you talk about a trial that you and i were talking about earlier. when chinese gold digger killed another chinese gold digger treat his principal argument was self-defense. there is fascinating discussion of picketing which the judge and the prosecutor spoke to the
defendant in pidgin english. probably not in a demeaning way but they thought that they could reach and communicate better. he wound up being convicted and sentenced to death and then you leave it at that and a couple of chapters later. you come back and you talk about how these people came, what did they do, all of these people. >> the travel was a first. he was condemned to be hanged. later members of the jury, the sheriff of the town, they write letters and they say he wasn't really guilty, he's a good man so this campaign led the governor to commute as sentenced to life in prison and some years later it came out that one of the witnesses had perjured themselves, one of the chinese witnesses so he received a
pardon. in my research i found he was not the only guy that got a pardon there was other cases where there was chinese pardon. >> there were others who came forward to help and so that was good. did the majority of the chinese laborers remain in the countries to which they immigrated or did some return to china? it may differ from country to country. >> we think half of the chinese that came to california in the late 19th century went back either because they never intended to stay or because they found two hostile of an environment to stay. there was a large return migration from australia as well when they had the upticks and violence and exclusions and discriminations people tended to leave. there was great complaint about the chinese merchants who had grown very wealthy in california, many of them left
because they could not make a living anymore. what i want to say, a 50% return migration is the same for europeans in the early 20th century. 50% of the people who came from italy, hungary, greece and some countries it was 80% that went back. a lot of the ideas that chinese were not permanent is the half-truth because same could be said for many other working-class migrants in that time. >> south africa was a little bit different? >> south africa they all had to go back. that was part of the contract that they could not stay. >> he also spent time in your book talk about things going on in china under china and the chinese reaction. what was the chinese government perspective on this immigration
in seen as positive or negative phenomenon? >> that's a great question. the ching dynasty after the opium wars into the world of international relations in a very rude and shocking way. for the first time has to deal diplomatically and through trade with western countries. the attitude of them following an older policy that dates to the 17th century. people leave the realm they don't exist anymore. they are either considered traders or irrelevant and it was actually illegal to return. the return under pain of death. once the chinese start to go out because they go out anyway in the government has to deal with foreign affairs.
their diplomats come into contact with these immigrants. this changes a lot of things because the diplomats themselves, i write about it, some of them are shocked other countrymen are treated in australia or california. it begins to slowly change the attitude of the government in the exclusion laws were considered by china as a handful of the great humiliation imposed on china in the 19th century. >> i should ask this as a follow-up to the prior question. it is related. the south africa still have a sizable population of people of chinese descent. how does this population fit into modern social affairs. also in the book you mention gold-mining recently in ghana.
to some extent still goes on? >> the 60000 or so chinese that went to the deep lines in the early 20th century, they were repatriated, they went back. a very small community of chinese merchants and artisans in the cape colony which has some descendents outlive to this day. it's a very small number. in the last 30 or so years south africa began to welcome immigrants from taiwan. there is a newer community that has no direct connection to the gold-mining community. how do they fit in the south africa racial structure? under the party, chinese were considered colored all the japanese were considered
honorary whites because they had a higher status in the world. after the the party, there is no official hierarchy. >> just to jump back in the last epilogue you talk about all the money that china is investing in africa and other parts of south asia. >> china has a very ambitious and bold plan to expand its economic ties throughout the world especially in areas that have been relatively neglected by the west in terms of investment. africa, latin america, these are areas of intense investment by the chinese state-owned banks as
well as smaller capital enterprises. they invest heavily in metals, oil and gas. >> what is the rationale, why is china doing this. >> there is a number of reasons why china has excess capital. has excess capacity. investing abroad is an economic strategy. it's also geopolitical strategy to extend its influence. it has deals in places in africa, even in australia. australia is the least supportive darwin to china for 99 years. nobody forced australia to do that. but china is the number one trading partner of australia the
number one trading partner of south africa and another of another country. this makes the united states very nervous. understandably. i view this as big power competition. i don't personally take sides i think you could look at the world in terms of nations and to compete in a game of who's gonna hoard the most. i don't think that is a competition. i don't feel part of that competition. i think the rest of us no matter where you are don't really benefit from that. >> next question we appear to be demonizing china again today. now with particular focus on intellectual property and trade. do you think those criticisms echo those about the immigration of chinese laborers?
>> that the really important question and i think it's complicated. do not think there's a straight answer. i think in terms of ip china is a bad actor i think we know that. but there is also a lot of accusations against china that i think are not true and i don't know people know about the so-called china initiative in the united states. this was started by the trump justice department that is still running under the biden of administration. this is the campaign of racial profiling of ethnic chinese scientists and american university. in the fbi investigated people and alleged that they were stealing and giving american secrets to china or something like this. they've not been able to bring one case to show this.
a lot of scientists have been fired by the university and one of them the first case that went to trial in tennessee the chinese scientists one case. they can't even bring charges of ip theft the bring charges of tax evasion or fraud because they filled out a application to the department of energy and neglected to put down that they gave us begin engagement the chinese university or some arrangement. none of this is held up in the courts and people are losing their jobs. it is terrible. >> quite a few of espionage have brought with great fanfare and most of them up and drop. >> that was an early example from los alamos. but i don't know why the justice
department continues on this campaign other than it feeds a larger political agenda of declaring china the number one adversary of the united states. >> i think we are at the end, thank you for a great program guide or at c-span.org/history. >> as you know from being here before in the time before the pandemic, we have to begin our shows by reciting together the national constitution center's inspiring congressional missions. here we go i know some of you remember by heart. the national constitution center is only insti