Wednesday, July 18, 2012


TOUCHING THE CHINESE.ADOPTING WESTERN IDEAS. THE LIFE OP THE "COOLIE." 'the periodical prominence given to "Things Chinese" would suggest" that the little men from the East are about to come into their own, that is if they have an "own.'' The average colonial knows really little or nothing of the Chinese, and can only associate him with a laundry iron or vegetable basket, but those who have been fortunate enough to have visited Shanghai, Peking, Canton, or Hongkong—the latter a British possession by the way—could almost associate the better class Chinese with any position. Politics in China have always been in a state of chaos, but all their squabbling is done amongst themselves. The world merely looks on and Jills the role of spectator. The life of the Chinese, that is the lower class, is merely an existence, but it is hardly that for those who have the misfortune to belong to the weaker sex. They are indeed faced with a hard world, their world that is. and quite in ignorance of the existence oi better things. they, to all outward appearances, go through happy and contented. Hut the conditions are awful, so awful that only those who luire been in the East can realise. We in New Zealand are much concerned about the housing problem, two persons in one room is, we contend, and very rightly, too, sufficient, but what can lie snid of the conditions where every available inch or foot of ;io,or space is occupied, so much so that it might almost be said the occupants have to "dovetail." w Zealanders have not j yet bad to resort to sleeping in the I streets, but it is an every night sight iv even Hongkong to see the Chinese coolie lying ou the footpaths of the main streets sound asleep with simply a piece |of sacking for a cover. This ia in the "inter. What the order is in the summer tbe writer cannot say. but it must lie even worse, because it is in tbe summer that most of the wet weather is experienced. With the shops opening nt daylight, the Chinaman who sleeps on the footpath gets very little chance of "sleeping in." The average New Zealander. who only sees the well-to-do Chinese merchant, the market gardener, the laundry man, and rends of a Chinese soccer team in Australia, a Chinese band in Wellington, a Chinese play staged iv Auckland by Chinese artistes, and the proposal to hold a Chinese running championship at the Laboijr Day sports might well be pardoned it he gets the impression that all is well in China, and that the lot of the Chinaman is not "too bad." Hut, what an awakening is in store for the visitor. The principal streets are thronged all day long with a shuffling mass of humanity, something similar t<> a busy Friday evening in Karangahape Road. I'edlars, with the inevitable rod and basket on each end. parade the .streets shouting their wares, or it may be correct to say. shouting their wav through the crowded thoroughfare. With one or two exceptions the shops are windowless, the food shops display their goods, most gruesome conglomerations in the opinion of the visitor. Tliere are no butchers', greengrocers', or tishe shops such as we see in New Zealand; all such goods are purchased iv a market. The stench from the market is beyond the European, who would never venture nearer than 50 yards of the buildings, and if he measured it hi,„6elf he would take long strides. The buying is done by Chinese servants, and the purchases of meat and fish arc tied on the end of a piece of (lax, and carried through the streets minus even the semblance of paper. Hut while these items interest the visitor, they do not leave the indelible impression that tbe working conditions of the masses do. It might lie said that all tbe heavy work is done by women and children. In Hongkong there is not a horse, motor truck, or machinery of any kind. Huge logs are sawn up by hand, and tbe same log would be cut 'up and stacked in the yard of a mill like the Kauri Timber Company almost as quick as the Cliiuiunnii would grease the saw. lt doesn't pay the Chinaman to get tbe Yankee habit of hustle, and "John" is shrewd enough to know it. Croat loads of bags of sugar and the like are pulled along the roads by. may be. 40 Chinese, with ropes attached to a large trolly! while little girls, mere children, are dotted here and here along the side of the roads with a 21b hammer, breaking stone. The women do the hardest work, and all day they are to be seen in hundreds, perhaps thousands, with rod nnd baskets carrying sand, bricks, etc.. to where a building is in course of election. So Chinese girls arc employed in shops as assistants; that is an avenue of employment monopolised by the boys, many 'of whom get little more than their "chow" (food), despite the working hours from perhaps daylight (ill midnight. It is true that the" lietter class of Chinese arc adoping western ideas and customs but they have a long way to go before they reach the standard of living enjoyed by iMtiopeaiis generally. Auckland Star, Volume LIV, Issue 221, 15 September 1923, Page 13

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