Social & Cultural Life: Politics in China

Kuo Min Tang, Chinese Nationalist Party

Kuo Min Tang, Chinese Nationalist Party

Many times the elders and ladies would ask me what the money was for, and I would say in my excitement, “Blankets for rice!”

Father corrected me. I was to enunciate my short speech clearly, stand with my back straight, like a nationalist officer of the Kwomintang. . .

I harrumphed, then began: “Generous donations benefit our soldiers of Free China with blankets for winter. Spare coins fill the empty rice bowls of our starving countrymen. A New China will rise from the old. Every penny helps. Every dollar matters.”

from All That Matters , p. 199, by Wayson Choy

Politics and current events on the mainland had played large role throughout the history of Chinatowns in Canada. This global interaction is evident by the visits of notable individuals such as Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the Father of Modern China, who came to Vancouver three times between 1899 and 1911 as well as Li Hongzhang, one of the most powerful politicians in imperial China, who visited Vancouver in 1896.

Fund-raising for causes in China – whether national defence or local school-building –often had a China-focus. And one of the constants of Chinatown life throughout the 20th century was the presence of a Chinese consulate with its varying relationships to the Chinatown population. Between 1911 and 1945, three major political events affected Chinese Canadians: the 1911 Revolution in China which had established the modern republican state, the First World War, as well the Second World War.

Shortly after the establishment of the Chinese Republic, the Kuomintang had grown to a position of importance in Chinese Canadian communities. In some places there were KMT schools and KMT members sitting on executive boards of local Chinese Benevolent Associations. As a result, political violence had erupted often in the first four decades of the 20th century, particularly the rivalry between the KMT and the Chinese Freemasons (Cheekungtong) who was another society that provided relief and kept order among overseas Chinese in Canada.
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