Chinese Mine Labour in the Transvaal by Peter Richardson

By Peter Richardson

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By Peter Richardson

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This latter section is particularly interesting in that it incorporated legislation emanating from the conditions affecting Indian emigration into legislation affecting Chinese labourers. 52 The legal link between the general terms of the Convention of 1904 and the particular demand for Chinese labour in the mines of the Transvaal was the Importation Ordinance of 1904. Regulations issued under section 29 of the Ordinance and Instructions issued to Emigration Agents were issued after the approval of the Ordinance by the House of Commons and became the means of meeting the specific demands of the Chinese and British governments and the advice of the Superintendent of Foreign Labour, without altering the controlling principles of the Ordinance.

32 This, as the Colonial Office observed, was more likely to secure these ends by reducing complaints by the Chinese. 33 The chosen method of meeting these requirements was to have Milner frame regulations under the Importation Ordinance which would appear to satisfy the Chinese demands resulting either from the formal Convention of May 1904 or from special requests made by the Chinese Minister in London. 34 This method had two additional advantages in that it also allowed general pledges made by the Colonial Office to satisfy British public opinion on the specific conditions of Chinese emigration to be incorporated in the Transvaal government's machinery without altering the principles on which the Importation Ordinance had been passed.

2 There was soon much evidence from Milner's government of the benefits of British administration. The reorganisation of the railway system through the creation of the CSAR, the rationalisation of customs tariffs following upon the Bloemfontein Conference, the virtual suppression of the drink traffic along the Rand, and the abolition of the vexatious concessions of the SAR and their replacement by a more rational taxation system, were major structural changes in the environment of the Rand mines which held out possibilities of at least containing working costs.

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