Asian Studies Program

Chinese Australia

Digital Documents Record

1247 Ping Nam, president of the Chinese Merchants’ Society, objects to idea of requiring all Chinese to carry passports

Full Document Caption:
Ping Nam, president of the Chinese Merchants’ Society reacts angrily to the suggestion by Mr R.B. Levien, the Victorian Trade Commissioner, that all Chinese be required to carry a passport which they would have to produce whenever asked to do so by the proper authority. He argues this treats Chinese who have broken no legal or moral codes as criminals. He also warns that merchant guilds in China would retaliate against Australian traders if overseas Chinese in Australia were mistreated.

Source: ‘Chinese in Australia: Recent proposed passports’, Age, 25/2/1909

Region: Date From: 1909 To: 1909
New South Wales - Sydney
Victoria - Melbourne

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SYDNEY, Wednesday

The Chinese merchants of Sydney have taken affront at the suggestion made by Mr. R.B. Levien, Victorian Trade Commissioner in the East, that in order to check the smuggling of Chinese into Australia every Chinese already here should be registered and required to carry a passport, which he should produce whenever asked to do so by the proper authority. Mr. Ping Nam, president of the Chinese Merchants' Society, said it was a piece of colossal impudence on his part to suggest such a degrading system. Such a law made applicable to Chinese who had been residing in Australia from twenty to forty years would be placing those who had broken no municipal or moral law on the level of thieves and the lowest criminals. They would not submit to their finger prints being taken. Politics and commerce were not only compatible, but really inseparable, and Mr. Ping Ham warned those nations who were trying to do business with China that the merchant guilds of that country throughout were affiliated, and prepared at all times to defend the rights of and resent any affronts to their brother merchants abroad.