A Piece of Immigration History: The Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act

Since HK is having a debate over immigration issues, where some people go up against the idea that new immigrants should not receive the same cash handout as HK permanent residents can. This piece of information is particularly relevant to the discussion:

As soon as the CPR was completed, the Federal Government moved to restrict the immigration of Chinese to Canada. The first federal anti-Chinese bill was passed in 1885. It took the form of a Head tax of $50 imposed, with few exceptions, upon every person of Chinese origin entering the country. No other group was targeted in this way.

The Head Tax was increased to $100 in 1900 and to $500 in 1903. $500 was equivalent to two years wages of a Chinese labour at the time. Meanwhile, Chinese were denied Canadian citizenship. In all, the Federal Government collected $23 million from the Chinese through the Head Tax.

That law was racist because it specifically targeted one group while all the all the others were exempted. That’s discrimination. The Chinese had to pay the tax for no particular reason and received no related services that required supports from that tax money. At the same time, the rest on the population enjoyed government services without paying for them the same way as the Chinese did. In essence, Chinese immigrants were subsidising others for no reason other than being Chinese.

When the HK government decided to give a handout of 6000 HKD to HK permanent residents (same status as ‘nationals’ in other countries) and not to non-permanent residents (landed immigrants), who are also paying taxes, it is practicing an inverted form of the Head Tax, only this time the discrimination does not come with the tax collection but with wealth redistribution. The effect is still the same as the landed immigrants subsidise the nationals and do not receive the same economic right–the right to claim the same surplus that comes from all taxpayers.

The handout would be justifiable had the immigrants knew about the deal before hand, and that being a condition that they have to fulfill in order to be legal immigrants. In this case, the immigrants never know about this deal, as the handout is a response from to government to the growing discontent among the populace about the budget. If the idea is to return over-taxed money to the taxpayers, then the tax-paying new immigrants should get their money back, same duties same rights. The HK government’s decision is discriminatory in effect, and it should not be supported by any reasonable person.

HK people have forgotten that they had been the victims of discrimination during the colonial period and overseas. Now the table has turned and the victims of racism are trying to become the racists themselves.


本篇發表於 政治與經濟, 歷史 並標籤為 。將永久鏈結加入書籤。

1 Response to A Piece of Immigration History: The Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act

  1. 引用通告: back to basic | 慌失失日記



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