Australia, as a modern nation, was born as a result of the global reaches of the British Empire; it was the product of an imperial colonialism. The first settlers to arrive in Australia – fair-skinned British subjects – wasted no time in establishing a polity to safeguard their interests. The Federation of 1901 only served to unite the self-interests of the earlier Colonies under the modern banner of nationalism. In view of this, the Chinese, who came in significant large numbers during the Gold Rush and were inheritors of an imperial and expansionist tradition far older than that of the British, were perceived by white Australians as a threat to their position of self-styled superiority over Indigenous Australians, who never had a “sovereign” say in which stranger could come and stay in their country, which, in contrast to the British notion of the Empire and the Chinese notion of the Middle Kingdom, and also to the modern notion of nation, was both an embodiment and a spirituality of the unity of human and earth. Meanwhile, the stunted growth of our national psyche continues through lack of restoration of justice.
The White Australia Policy was an instrument used by one kind of colonists to protect themselves against the potential challenge posed by colonists of another kind. Both were motivated by gain, even if one was oppressed by the other. The postwar abolition of the White Australia Policy further dispossessed Indigenous Australians in their peaceful efforts to reclaim their country and their identity. For a genuine reconciliation to happen in our generation, there has to be a third way – out of the historic animosities between Asians and Europeans in Australia.
The original post is slightly expanded by the author on 9 July 2015.