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Date: 19 February 1918


Found on Chinaman Charged With Assault.

At Aberavon on Monday, Ah Quai, a Chinese seaman employed on a British ship, was charged with assaulting Arthur Duff, second mate, and F. Battensby, the chief officer of the ship, and also with disobeying the lawful commands of the two officers. He was also charged under the Merchant Shipping Act. There was a cross-summons for assault. Mr. Evan Gibson Davies represented the second mate and captain, and Mr. Lewis M. Thomas was for Ah Quai.

Inspector Hall said that when charged the defendant denied the assault, and said that the officers struck him.

Defendant, in the box, denied the offence. He never gambled, but admitted in cross-examination that he had over £80 on him when arrested. This, he explained, was four years’ wages. The chief mate hit him with a knuckle-duster.

The defendant was fined £ 10, and the cross summons dismissed.

'Four Years' Wages.' The Cambria Daily Leader. 19 Feb. 1918. 2.

This 1918 newspaper clipping includes the word ‘Chinaman’ in its title. The term ‘Chinaman’ is an archaic 18th/19th century term for Chinese people, which is widely considered derogatory today although some Asian Americans self-identify with the term. As a result of two Opium Wars, where the British colonial powers were strategically smuggling opium from their South Asian colonies into Chinese ports against the wishes of the Chinese government in the mid-nineteenth century, Britain and France forced the Qing government to authorise a massive exodus of Chinese labourers to western countries and their colonies to replace enslaved Africans. This was the beginning of the dispersion of the Chinese across the world – from Southeast Asia to America, Africa, Europe, and Australia. These Chinese immigrants were paid poorly and were made to work in risky and unsafe conditions, whilst they were subjected to other racial abuses. The idiom “A Chinaman’s chance in hell” refers to how Chinese American labourers were given the most dangerous jobs in the Central Pacific Railroad. It was in this context that the term ‘Chinaman’ was used in a derogatory way to dehumanise Chinese people based on their ethnicity.

Updated: September 2023. Reference source: Inclusive Terminology Glossary, 1.6. Empires and Imperialism:


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