Historic Censuses on Chinese in Australia

In the 1925 Year book Australia, which was released on 1 January that year, there is a feature article called The Chinese in Australia.

When the first Census in the colony of New South Wales was conducted in 1856, there were 1800 Chinese males and only six Chinese females (1806 Chinese in total). The figures on the Chinese in the subsequent seven Censuses are as follows: 1861, 12,986 Chinese males and two Chinese females (12,988 Chinese in total); 1871, 7203 Chinese males and twelve Chinese females (7220 Chinese in total); 1881, 10,141 Chinese males and 64 Chinese females (10,205 Chinese in total); 1891, 13,048 Chinese males and 109 Chinese females (13,157 Chinese in total); 1901, 10,003 Chinese males and 159 Chinese females (10,222 Chinese in total); 1911, 7942 Chinese males and 284 Chinese females (8226 Chinese in total); and 1921, 6903 Chinese males and 379 Chinese females (7282 Chinese in total).

The declining trend in Chinese population between the years 1901 and 1921 was also reflected in the other States of Australia; in Victoria the Chinese population halved in its number, with only 6903 Chinese males and 379 Chinese females (7282 Chinese in total) recorded in the 1921 Census. In the same year, 16,011 Chinese males and 1146 Chinese females (17,157 Chinese in total) were recorded in the Census in Australia overall. Despite the great political turmoils in China after the fall of the last imperial dynasty in 1911, which would motivate the Chinese to seek new lives outside their homeland, Australia’s White Australia policy was successful in keeping them out in large numbers, when at the same time indentured labour of the Chinese and other “coloured” people was a valuable commodity in Australian economy to facilitate regional trade and to address the problem of labour shortages since the cessation of convict transportation from England in 1840.

 

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