A Chinese Reformer at the Birth of a Nation: Liang Quichao and the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation
www.latrobe.edu.auChinese MuseumEast China Normal University Centenary of Federation
English Version Chinese Version

A travelling exhibition: developed as part of part of the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation Project, a joint initiative of La Trobe University and the Chinese Museum: Melbourne, East China Normal University: Shanghai.
Exhibition proudly sponsored by
: Central Equity

Supported by
: The Australian government's National Council for the Centenary of Federation

Venues and dates
Shanghai Library, 27 October to 5 November 2000
Zhongshan Municipal Library, Guangzhou, 10 to 19 November 2000
Australian Embassy, Beijing, 8 to 17 December 2000
Art Gallery, National Taiwan University, 9 to 18 January 2001
1st Floor Lobby, Central Plaza, 18 Harbour Rd, Wanchai Hong Kong, 20 February to 4 March 2001
Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Singapore, 14 to 20 March 2001
Chinese Museum, Melbourne, 7 May to 30 June 2001 (extended to 15 September 2001)
Chinese Cultural Centre, Citadel Towers, 799 Pacific Hwy, Chatswood, 12 to 21 July 2003

(Syndey tour supported by: Willoughby City Council, Chinese Cultural Centre (NSW), Central Equity Apartments, Chinese Australian Historical Society, Chinese Studies Association of Australia)

Here is a sample of the exhibition currently on tour.

In 1900-1901, Liang Qichao, a prominent political reformer in China, and one of the most famous figures of modern Chinese history, visited Australia on a six-month tour. His aim was to raise support for a campaign to reform the Chinese empire - to modernise China through adopting the best of Western technology, industry and government systems.

At the same time as his visit, the Australian colonies had just decided to federate into one nation. During Liang's visit, the inauguration of the new Commonwealth of Australia took place, and celebrations were held all over the country.

Liang Qichao travelled across the continent from the West coast to the East by steamer, train, and horse-drawn carriage, visiting metropolitan and regional communities along the way, and meeting with governors and mayors, the new Prime Minister, community groups and business people at almost every port of call.

He was hosted by Chinese communities in all the places he visited, and gave public lectures to both Chinese and Western audiences around the country.

Chinese had originally emigrated to Australia for the 19th century goldrushes. By 1900-01, however, they had developed a rich and diverse community across Australia, engaged in agriculture, manufacturing, commerce and trade. Despite official moves to restrict the numbers of Chinese coming to Australia, and despite widespread racism by many European Australians, the Chinese in Australia also had many friends and supporters, and successfully engaged with the wider community. Chinese Australians played an integral role in the development of the Australian society.

Liang Qichao's tour, and the Australian Federation celebrations, aroused keen interest in civic affairs amongst Chinese Australians.

Their community and business leaders took a greater interest in the political, social and economic development of China. Many went on to play a key role in supporting the establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1912, in developing modern commercial enterprises in China, and in supporting the creation of modern China in the 20th century, through to the reform era.

Chinese Australians also took a stronger interest in Australian civic life, campaigning against discrimination and racism, and supporting justice and equality for all Australians. They contributed to hospitals and benevolent institutions, took part in public celebrations, and were successful in creating good relationships with other Australians.

One hundred years since Liang Qichao's tour, and one hundred years since the birth of the Australian nation, this exhibition celebrates the contribution of Chinese communities to the development of Australia, and their role in fostering cultural, commercial and social links between China and Australia over the past century.

The exhibition has been supported by:
The Australian government's National Council for the Centenary of Federation. La Trobe University Vice-chancellor's Office, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences & Faculty of Law & Management.

Project Director: Professor John Fitzgerald, Asian Studies, La Trobe University, Melbourne.
Exhibition Curator: Paul Macgregor, Curator, Chinese Museum, Melbourne.
Research Assistance: Sophie Couchman and Dr Liu Luxin, Melbourne.
Translation: Dr Liu Luxin and Julian Chen, Melbourne.
Exhibition Design: Advertising City, Melbourne.

5.13   Portrait of Liang Qichao, which appeared in the  Tung Wah News, 17 April 1901. Liang stayed in New South Wales from 6 December 1900 until early May. In the later period of his stay, he started to write a history of China in the 1890s and gave regular lectures based on this book. Though he never finished this work, the first chapter "On Tracing the Sources of China's Weakness" (Zhongguo jiruo suiyuanlun) was printed into a pamphlet, and a later version was published in his collected essays, Yingbing She Wenji.
[Newspaper Collection, State Library of NSW]

5.28  Edmund Barton, Australia's first Prime Minister. Liang Qichao met with him at a reception at the Sydney Town Hall in January 1901.
[Royal Historical Society of Victoria]

1.11 The Guangxu Emperor. When the Dowager Empress put the Emperor under house arrest, Kang Youwei changed the name of his Chinese Reform Association to the Protect the Emperor Society, with Liang Qichao as his second-in-command.
[Mansell Collection, from Christopher Hibbert, The Dragon Wakes]

4.13   Cheok Hong Cheong, Superintendent of the Anglican Chinese Mission in Melbourne. Cheong was Liang Qichao's principal host in Melbourne.
[From The Weekly Times, 2 September 1899. Newspaper Collection, State Library of Victoria]

6.1       Parade organised by the See Yup Society on 7 May 1901 to celebrate the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York, who came to Australia to open the first federal national parliament. The decorated archway in the background was built for the occasion by the See Yup Society.
[La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria]

6.2       The See Yup Society banner which led the 1901 federation procession has survived to the present day, and is preserved in Melbourne's Chinese Museum.
[Melbourne Dai Loong Association

6.7            Decorated archway built by the  See Yup Society to celebrate the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York, who came to Australia in May 1901 to open the first federal national parliament.
[See Yup Society, Melbourne]

3.13         Chinese Archway over St George's Terrace, Perth, during the visit by the Duke of York to celebrate the inauguration of the Federation of Australia, 1901.
[From Jan Ryan, Ancestors.]

3.14         Chinese dragon parade, Perth, during the visit by the Duke of York to celebrate the inauguration of the Federation of Australia, 1901.
[From Jan Ryan, Ancestors.]

4.16             Presbyterian Women's Christian Mission Group, Melbourne, 1890s. There were almost 2,100 Chinese Christians at the time of Liang's visit, or 28 per cent of the Victorian Chinese community.
[La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria]

7.13     Ang Chuck, wife of Melbourne merchant Louis Ah Mouy, was one of the earliest Chinese women to live in Australia. Most Chinese men who came to Australia were either unmarried, or left their wives and families in China, and sent money back from their earnings in Australia.
[Ah Mouy Collection, Melbourne's Chinese Museum]

5.11     Mei Quong Tart with Emissaries from the Chinese Imperial Government, who came to Australia in 1887. Quong Tart was the most influential Chinese merchant of Sydney, but refused to be associated with the Chinese Empire Reform Association. He was hoping to become the first consul of the Chinese government in Australia, and so perhaps did not want to be too closely associated with the reform movement
[From Margaret Tart, The Life of Quong Tart]

5.8                Founders of the Sydney Chinese Chamber of Commerce, 1903. Predating the earliest Chambers of Commerce in China (in Suzhou and Shanghai), the Sydney association is believed to be the first Chinese commercial association in the world.
[From C. F. Yong, New Gold Mountain]

9.3       Two of the largest shareholders in the Commercial Bank of Australia (which merged with the Bank of New South Wales in the 1980s to form Westpac Bank) were Louis Ah Mouy and Lowe Kong Meng. As banks could issue their own paper currency in those days, the bank printed Chinese text on their pound note to encourage Chinese custom.
[Chinese Museum, Melbourne.]





Content Approved by: John Fitzgerald
Page maintained by: web master
Last Updated: 15 June, 2007