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Chinese Migration Essay

2277 words - 9 pages

CHINESE MIGRATION: The Outcome of Internal and External Forces Introduction Canada's 'Land of Opportunities' motto may had seem to be the main reason in explaining why Chinese emmigrated, but it was only a small factor that assisted the migration phenomenon. The massive influx of migrating Chinese into Canada was contributed not only to the attractiveness of new opportunities, but more so, the "push" factors that lead them to leave. Chinese migration is the outcome of five major forces that have shaped Chinese history, they are: a series of natural and man-made catastrophes, population explosion, political instability, and foreign intervention. The primary focus in this essay is the product of these factors on the Chinese community, most areas will touch upon the Taishan County, in the Guangdong province from the eighteenth century to early twentieth century.Taishan: A major source of immigrants due to natural disasters and clan wars Taishan lies along the Guangdong Province coastline on the southwest corner of the Pearl River Delta area bordering the South China Sea. (See map) It is one of China's largest sources of immigrants between 1884 and 1903. Approximately 23 percent of the Chinese in British Columbia from 1884 to 1885 and 45 percent from 1885 to 1903 came from Taishan. (Lai, 1975) In addition to the same factors that plagued other Chinese, the people from Taishan had an excess amount of natural disasters, and thus were particularly receptive to migration. During 1851 to 1908, Taishan had fourteen major floods, seven typhoons, four earthquakes, two droughts, four plagues, and five famines. Furthermore, an outbreak of local wars between clans occurred in 1856 to 1864. The result of this mishap was the death of twenty to thirty thousand people and the migration of a large sum of Taishan people. (Magocsi,1999) Population Explosion In one estimate, China's population almost doubled from 200 to 250 million in 1750 to about 410 million 1850. (Ho, 1967) Even with China's massive amount of territory, it could not accommodate the rapid population growth. In an agriculture study, only 950 million mu of land was cultivated in 1766 and 1210 million mu in 1873. (Perkins, 1969) This means that the amount of land that was farmed was much less than needed by the amount of people settled upon it. By the late nineteenth century overall densities in the Pearl River Delta were about 600 persons per square kilometer. (Ip, 1979) In this area the typical peasant household could only cultivated less than one third of a hectare of land. Additionally in County's like Taishan, the land that was once available for farming became damaged or obsolete from droughts, earthquakes, floods, and typhoons. As a result, the area that provided Canada with the most immigrants had the lowest ratio of farmable land to people.Political Instability The political instability of China is yet another explanation for Chinese emigration. The late Qing Dynasty...

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