Chinese students in White Australia

state, community, and individual responses to the student visa program, 1920-1925

Mei-fen Kuo, John Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


A recent archival discovery reveals that around four hundred visas were issued to students from China to study in Australia from 1920 to 1925. This article explains and explores the significance of this little-known initiative under the White Australia Policy by reference to China's global resurgence, the role of the Chinese consulate-general in local community affairs, and support and resistance among Chinese community leaders in response to these developments. It highlights a paradox associated with the students' arrival, specifically the Melbourne publication of fabricated ‘Chinese letters home’ at a time when literate students were writing personal letters to their families and friends in China about their impressions of Melbourne, their understanding of local labour and gender relations, and their engagement with the big political and business issues of the day. The recently-released letters and papers of a contemporary student, Joe Tong, tell an untold story of Chinese Australians in the postwar era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-277
Number of pages19
JournalAustralian Historical Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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