This article follows Australians who went to treaty ports in China in the 1920s and 1930s to find work. By 1932 there were so many Australians in Shanghai that the British government asked Prime Minister Joseph Lyons to issue an official warning dissuading Australians from travelling there for employment. One result of this migration was the generation of files on Australians in the Special Branch’ surveillance files of the Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP) archives. Using these files, as well as Chinese language newspapers circulating in Shanghai at the time, this article examines links between Australians in Depression-era Shanghai and the development of Chinese anti-colonialism. It also suggests that reports on Australian behaviour in treaty port China in Australian newspapers recast the ways in which some Australians understood inter-colonial exchanges. Much is known about Australian attitudes to Asia in the first half of the twentieth century. Little, however, has been written about how Asian populations viewed Australians. The Shanghai Municipal Police files provide one register through which these viewpoints can be excavated.
Field of Research
210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) 210302 Asian History
Socio Economic Objective
970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
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