It has been said many times (by me anyway) that Chinese Australian history is perforce reliant on European observers – often of dubious quality and more often dubious perspectives (see Observers 8). Nevertheless, there are instances – increasing over time naturally – of Chinese Australians speaking in their own voice. Here are presented a selection of writings by Chinese Australians in both Chinese and English. They range from the first (certainly the earliest extant) piece of Chinese writing in Australia as an indentured shepherd named Ang defends himself in 1850 from a murder charge, to a full novel written in Classical Chinese in 1910 on the eve of China’s Republican revolution by the Melbourne based Wong Shee Ping. As well, there are reasoned attacks on discriminatory legislation, personal memoirs old and new, poetry, letters from relations back in the village, and short stories expressing something of life in “white” Australia for someone of non-white heritage.
Together these ‘Chinese 8’ provide an insight into the many facets of Chinese Australian history as spoken to us by Chinese Australians themselves. Here they are presented in reverse chronological order – just for fun.