On 30 May 1925 British officers opened fire on Chinese union protesters in Shanghai’s International Settlement, sparking a series of anti-imperialist protests now known as the ‘May 30th Movement’. This article traces the response of the Australian Labor movement to these events. It examines connections between Chinese and Australian unions and shows how Asian anti-colonial nationalism affected Australian perceptions of class-based inequality in the 1920s and 1930s. Orthodox histories of the Australian Labor movement emphasize its inward-looking and xenophobic nature but these national historiographies have been too quick to assume the isolation of Australia from pan-Asian anti-colonialism. Rather than arguing that Australian unionists supported decolonization in the inter-war period this article explores how class relationships mediated Australian encounters with colonized people in Asia. Treating Shanghai and Sydney as entangled outposts of Empire suggests we need to re-evaluate interpretations of Australian class dissent that regard it either as part of a solely European tradition or as a motivated only by local conditions.
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