By John Fitzgerald
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Extra resources for Big White Lie: Chinese Australians in White Australia
Any profession of belief in Australian values merely indicates they are not authentic Chinamen. This style of culturalism requires explanation on its own account. The tenacity of the culturalist argument in Australian history can be traced to a premise of Australian nationalism that Australia is an egalitarian, progressive and tolerant society in contrast to class-ridden Britain and the hierarchical societies to Australia’s north. In the Australian national imaginary, the imagined clash between Western liberalism and ‘Oriental despotism’ – or, more parochially, between Australian values and Chinese values – cannot easily be separated from the residual conflict between ideals of social, cultural and material progress on the one hand and the spectre of resistant social and cultural traditions on the other.
They bore names such as Liu and Kwok and Lee and Mouy and Chan and Choy, names little known in Australia relative to China Morrison and other white Australians of their day, but widely recognised outside of Australia for their contributions to bilateral relations. Some sought to honour the name of Morrison by endowing an annual lecture in his name. This book is intended to honour some of them in turn. Among the more prominent Chinese Australians who appear in the following pages are the legendary figure Loong Hung Pung who led the underground Yee Hing (triad) network on the goldfields of western New South Wales in the late 19th century, and his heirs and successors who built up the network’s links with revolutionary cells in China.
Liberté, egalité and fraternité are translated into Australian dialect as freedom, egalitarianism and mateship. 2 This chapter explores the wider global setting in which Australian values began to crystallise in the 19th century with a view to grasping what was universal and what was Australian about them. indd 25 22/5/07 9:04:44 AM 26 Big White Lie The argument mounted here is that freedom, egalitarianism and mateship were local Australian idiom for the modern ethical principle that people are born free and equal.