2001 ASSLH conference – Forgotten foreign militants: The Chinese Seamen’s Union in Australia, 1942-1946

Drew Cottle
University of Western Sydney, Macarthur

Japan’s victories throughout South East Asia in the first months of the Pacific War stranded nearly 2,000 Chinese seamen, along with hundreds of refugees from British Malaya, the Netherlands East Indies and other European colonies, in the port cities of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. The Chinese seafarers were crew members of British, Dutch and French cargo and passenger vessels which had found sanctuary in Australia from the Japanese military advance.1 Most of the seamen came from China’s southern provinces while others were from Singapore or different Indonesian ports. Many of the Cantonese went to sea to repay family debts owed to local landlords. Their system of employment through labour contractors ensured that the bulk of their pay was sent to their family as an allotment after they had completed their period of service. A portion of their pay was spent on provisions provided by the shipping companies. The provisions were often inadequate and of poor quality. The remainder of their pay was spent on gambling or smoking opium aboard ship which was unofficially encouraged. Often the poorest of seafarers, the Chinese had exchanged one form of servitude for another.2

Apart from the officer class, the Chinese represented every naval occupation. The better educated were engineers, wireless operators and quartermasters. The majority worked as able seamen, stokers, firemen, donkeymen, greasers, carpenters, cooks and kitchen hands.3 Whatever their work the shipping companies instituted pay scales based on race. The Chinese competed with other Asian seamen for work and were paid considerably less than British, European and Australian seamen. The wages, working and living conditions of Asian seamen aboard passenger liners and cargo steamers not only upheld an indictment of the race theories of the shipping companies but, as importantly, secured considerable profits.4

Chinese mariners who worked on foreign ships were nominal members of the Chinese Seamen’s Union (CSU). Founded in 1913, the CSU had been in the forefront of the nationalist struggle led by Dr Sun Yat Sen. It engaged in lengthy and successful strikes for better pay and conditions against foreign shipping companies involved in the China trade from 1917 to 1925. After the liquidation of many Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members from the Kuomintang (KMT) instigated by Chiang Kai Shek, militants in the CSU were also purged. Its leaders were KMT appointed officials without seafaring experience who worked closely with the foreign shipping companies in securing crews and maintaining labour discipline through the deployment of armed gangs. The CSU and all other Chinese unions made up the KMT’s labour front. They were legally denied the right to strike by a KMT diktat issued on 5 October, 1932. As Japan’s invasion of China accelerated the KMT’s military forces retreated. By early 1938 every port on the China coast, with the exception of Hong Kong, was under Japanese control. When war broke out in Europe in 1939 the KMT’s seat of government had moved hundreds of miles inland to Chungking on the upper Yangtze to avoid capture and destruction by Japan. From its rural fastness, the KMT continued to claim authority over the working lives of the 37,667 members of the CSU as Japan consolidated its hold over China.6

Chinese seamen had no defensive organisation nor any industrial representation. They were at the mercy of foreign shipping companies, labour contractors, press gangs and a Nationalist government unable and unwilling to wage war against the Japanese invaders or to defend the Chinese people. Despite China’s subjugation and their own material conditions the Chinese seamen were keen to struggle to end the oppression of both. Their youth (most were in their twenties) gave their conviction the possibility of fulfilment. War gave them the opportunity to be both patriots and trade unionists.

After their attack on Pearl Harbor the Japanese swept through colonial Southeast Asia wreaking havoc on European and American shipping in the region. Chinese crews manning these ships were beyond the repressive authority of the Nationalist government isolated in Chungking. In this fraught situation the opportunity to build a militant trade union for Chinese seamen free of the KMT labour front presented itself.

When more than 20 vessels of the Hong Kong, Butterworth Swire Yuill, the US Blue Funnel and Dutch shipping companies sought refuge from Japanese attack and seizure in Australia between December 1941 and February 1942 they were manned by Chinese seamen numbering nearly 2,000. The ships were commandeered by the Australian government to form a transport fleet to carry troops and supplies to war zones. The Chinese crews were in a quandary. Their contracts had been terminated.7 They were owed months in wages, their families would receive no allotments and they were stateless aliens without rights or representation.

At Fremantle in January 1942, 500 Chinese seamen refused to work commandeered vessels. The Chinese mariners demanded their wages owed and would not return to sea at the existing low pay and bad working and living conditions in situations where their lives were at risk. Military guards attempted to herd them aboard the ships. Two unnamed seamen were killed in the confrontation.8 The dispute was resolved when the Western Australian Seamen’s Union of Australia (SUA) Branch Secretary, Joe Byrne, convinced the seamen to enlist in the Australian army. They formed the Seventh Labour Corps. Because of labour shortages they loaded ships with provisions and ammunition at Fremantle or were sent to Harvey, south of Perth, to grow food for the army.9

At Sydney Port where most of the commandeered vessels were berthed and where the largest number of Chinese seamen were concentrated, a more lasting solution to the problems of the seamen was achieved. After sit-down strikes by the Chinese crews of six ships ended in their arrest and gaoling, the leaders of the Chinese seamen, EV Elliott, federal secretary, and Barney Smith, Sydney branch secretary of the SUA, held an emergency meeting to resolve the issue.10 On the 22 January, 1942 in the rooms of the Chinese Youth League at 66 Dixon Street, Haymarket, 300 Chinese seamen established the Australian branch of the CSU and elected their union representatives with Elliott and Smith in attendance.11

The president, secretary and treasurer of the branch, Fred Wong, William Jong and Stanley Wei were Chinese but not seamen. Wong, a retail greengrocer with Wei and Jong were the student sons of prominent Sydney Chinese merchant families and were the founders of the Chinese Youth League (CYL). Their relative economic independence, connections with Sydney’s small Chinese community and amongst militant trade union leaders at Trades Hall and their acceptance by the Sydney KMT executive and the Chinese Consulate allowed these young men to organise effectively with the guidance of the SUA, Waterside Workers Federation (WWF) and Communist Party of Australia (CPA) officials.12

The formal objectives of the Australian branch of the CSU were:

(a) to support the interests of Chinese seamen in the Pacific and Indian Ocean areas;
(b) to distribute news from China;
(c) to raise the standard of living and improve the conditions of Chinese sailors;
(d) to open a reading room and supply sailors with literature;
(e) to give such instruction and information to Chinese sailors as to enable them to prosecute the war against Japan and assist China in peaceful reconstruction.13

The founding of the union was based on a series of contradictions. All Chinese seamen were, by KMT decree, members of its union. Yet the most influential of the union’s leaders in Australia were not seamen. Chungking did not recognise the CSU’s Australian section until March 1943. It is unknown why the KMT waited over a year before recognition was given to the CSU in Australia. KMT Consular officials in Australia informally accepted the union believing it would save them, “a great deal of unnecessary work and facilitate matters relating to Chinese seamen in Australia.”14 The CSU in Australia had no legal status as a registered union within the Arbitration system.

From the CSU’s inception, Australian intelligence services questioned the legal existence of the union because of its ideological embrace of communism and its industrial militancy. It was believed that the union allowed Chinese crews to take advantage of the situation to “(a) obtain in Australia a haven of safety from the risks attendant on service at sea in wartime; (b) obtain comparatively easy and satisfactorily remunerative employment in Australia and (c) secure better conditions of service at sea.”

For Australian intelligence such CSU objectives were tantamount to subversion.15 Nevertheless, through its SUA guardianship the CSU was able to organise and wage successful industrial campaigns. While the Sydney KMT tacitly supported the formation of an Australian CSU branch, most Chinese seamen were sympathetic to the aims and record of the Chinese Communist Party and several of the union’s activist leaders were both CCP and CPA members.16

From the early 1930s the CPA and different branches of the maritime unions opposed the Japanese invasion of China. In 1937 the Chinese crew deserted the British steamer, SS Silksworth, at anchor in Newcastle, in protest against the Japanese seizure of all major seaports in China. Communist and labour activists in the maritime and other unions gave sanctuary to the Chinese seamen. After their successful protest they returned to the ship only when they were promised disembarkation at Singapore.17 During the Port Kembla Pig Iron dispute Chinese seamen ashore in Sydney held a meeting and declared they would not return to their ship if the pig iron was loaded. The Chinese crew of the SS Nellore collected money for the striking wharfies. Fred Wong with other members of the Chinese Youth League organised the collection and distribution of truckloads of vegetables and fruit from Chinese market gardeners to the families of striking wharf labourers.18 Bonds of solidarity between Australian and Chinese workers, however tenuous, were forged in these struggles. In early 1942, when the stranded Chinese seamen resisted the attempts of the shipowners and the Australian government to force them into service, militant Australian trade union leaders and Communists came to their assistance.

The support the SUA offered the CSU was, nevertheless, fortuitous. In the aftermath of the 1936 Seamen’s Strike the SUA was left “virtually leaderless and in confusion”. Its members worked side-by-side with “licensed” non-unionists. The outbreak of war ended the “licensing” of seamen and by 1940 the shipping industry was under wartime control.19 Such a change in fortune allowed Elliott V. Elliott, the youngest SUA general secretary, to organise the seamen’s union ship-by-ship. Elliott’s building of a militant rank-and-file base within the union coincided with the growing Commonwealth control of wartime shipping. Within the merchant service increasing numbers of seamen were killed or wounded because of Japanese torpedo attacks and mines in Australian waters. Crew shortages mounted, as did the numbers of ships commandeered. Fear of Japanese supremacy at sea compelled the Curtin Labor government to act decisively to the shipping crisis by establishing the Maritime Industry Commission (MIC). Its objective was “to secure during the present war the adequate and efficient manning of Australian merchant ships and the improvement and safeguarding of the conditions of all persons serving therein.” The MIC’s powers overrode existing industrial laws and statutes of the Commonwealth and State governments and “any award or determination of any industrial tribunal.” Its authority embraced all facets of maritime industrial relations. Ship owners were apprehensive about the MIC’s industrial and administrative control although they acceded to the government’s authority. Under the MIC, ship owners managed the ships which were under Federal “charter” and the maritime unions organised the supply of skilled labour.21

It was in the context of wartime necessity that Elliott and other leaders of the SUA and WWF fostered the development of the Chinese Seamen’s Union and, in the immediate post-war years, other Asian seamen’s unions.22 The skills of the Chinese crews were needed to work the commandeered merchant service. Because of maritime labour shortages the MIC accepted the creation of an Australian branch of the CSU for the war’s duration. Formally allied with the SUA the CSU rank and file campaigned vigorously on each ship to improve working and living conditions, for a standard 44- hour week, equal pay with SUA members and a war bonus. Each of these demands found expression in the MIC charter. In January, 1944 the 44 hour week, pay rises of 80 per cent equivalent to the SUA and a war bonus were granted to CSU members.23 Elliott, Barney Smith and Bill Bird, the SUA officials who worked closely with the CSU officials in Sydney and Melbourne ports, never attempted to control the CSU’s activities. At the executive level, Australian maritime unions were committed to international working class solidarity. They offered support and guidance to the CSU whose leaders organised the skill and collective strength of rank and file seamen.24

Aboard ship Chinese and Australian seamen did not work side by side. Chinese or Australian crews worked on separate ships. Such workplace separation allowed both the SUA and the CSU to commit themselves to united campaigns. The integration of Chinese and Australian seamen at work on the same ship was never considered by either union. In this way, the apparent harmony and unity of both unions was maintained. SUA literature made few references to the existence of the CSU and its activities. The SUA and CSU leaders believed that racial separation of their members was the only way their unions could operate effectively.

While the KMT government in early 1942 offered de facto recognition of the Australian CSU and the MIC allowed the union to function under its legal and industrial authority, the British-China Agreement of May, 1942 bolstered the CSU’s legitimacy within Australia. It was a trade union breakthrough and a temporary blow to the racial division of labour aboard British ships. Uniformity of treatment and pay for British and Chinese seamen manning British ships was the essence of the Agreement despite the opposition of British ship owners.25 The MIC’s devolution of the supply of ship labour to the SUA created difficulties for the SUA in its relations with the relatively autonomous CSU. Because of the low wages and poor working and living conditions aboard foreign vessels, the Chinese seamen on arrival in an Australian port often refused to return to sea. In Sydney and Melbourne ports entire Chinese crews deserted. Australian security services believed their desertion was encouraged and assisted by the CSU and Communist Party organisers.26

Once the Chinese seamen entered the Chinatowns of Sydney and Melbourne it seemed that only Stanley Wei or Harry Poon, the CSU officials, could locate them. The seamen found friendship, food, lodgings, work and news from China through the offices of both the Chinese Youth League and the CSU. The union leadership campaigned against opium and gambling. Their effects on Chinese seamen were debilitating. In June 1944 Stanley Wei and a group of seamen armed with revolvers visited the Haymarket’s Fan Tan clubs where shots were fired into the ceilings. Wei threatened the club owners with retribution if they continued to encourage seamen to lose their pay gambling. The clubs barred seamen from their premises.27

Arthur Gar-Lock Chang left indentured labour to a Chinese shopkeeper in Tingha, NSW and travelled to Sydney in March, 1942 where he worked briefly for his relatives in a fruitshop then on the assembly line at Goodyear Tyres in Granville. Living in inner Sydney he joined the Chinese Youth League where he was drawn into its social activities and political discussions. Because of his patriotism and a fluency in English and Chinese, Chang was appointed assistant secretary of CSU’s Sydney branch. Chang with Louis Wong, the CSU’s NSW branch secretary from 1943, helped seamen find accommodation, obtain tax clearances, negotiate contracts, undertake medical checks and organise ship’s crews.28 Although nominally a maritime union the CSU acted as a labour supply organisation recognised by the MIC and bound by Manpower Directorate regulations. It maintained registers on all Chinese seamen in Australia, their occupations, their work contracts with various ships and their non-maritime work record. Many seamen never wanted to return to the wartime dangers at sea. They became labourers or market gardeners or married Australian women. In spite of these difficulties the CSU was able to crew ships and wage on-the-job struggles to improve the working lives of its members.29

Records of the CSU’s day-to-day activities are scant. Arthur Gar-Lock Chang holds several of the Sydney branch registers written in Chinese.30 The Commonwealth account of the union is devoted to surveillance of its leading communist members. As one of the union’s welfare officers, Chang observed the conditions under which his compatriots worked aboard ship. In an interview Chang recalled the hardship and fear of death the Chinese seamen experienced. Many of them hoped to return to China after the war. Chang was one of the few union members who remained in Australia despite efforts by the Federal Labor government to deport him when the war ended. After nearly 50 years Chang is probably the only surviving CSU member in Australia who is able to describe the union’s achievements.31 If too little is known about the workplace culture and the material lives of Chinese seamen other aspects of their union can be examined.

In walking distance of the wharves and the Darling Harbour Goods Yard the cultural setting of Chinatown in the Haymarket allowed the Chinese seamen to connect with the Chinese community and a wider Australian public.32 The CYL rooms became a meeting place for the seamen. Fred Wong, the retail greengrocer, president of both the CYL and the CSU, was the unofficial banker for the union. As stateless aliens and distrustful of banks the seamen kept their money in Wong’s safe. He gained their trust by his commitment to their livelihood and by his honesty. Respected by the KMT grandees of the merchant class and popular with Chinatown’s laundrymen, market gardeners, café owners, barbers and barrowmen, Wong was the chief organiser of Chinese opera performances hosted by the CYL and the CSU. The staging of Cantonese and Hainanese operas raised funds for Victory Loans and the resistance forces, war widows and orphans in China.33

Many of the Chinese seamen who were accomplished musicians, singers and actors performed in the CYL-CSU operas. Their aim was twofold. The operas helped to unite the Chinese community in the war against Japan by raising funds for popular causes and they gave the seamen a sense of place and purpose in wartime Sydney. The CYL’s political position on China and Australia drew a number of the seamen into the separate Chinese branches of the Communist Party in Sydney and Melbourne. Although the Party from its beginnings condemned the racism as a weapon of the capitalist class it maintained a form of racial separatism in its branches. Where non-Anglo-Celtic workers were numerically dominant the Party established separate branches for them. In the 1930s and 1940s the Party had Greek, Yugoslav and Chinese branches. Several of these seamen returned to southern China to join communist-led guerilla forces in the civil war against the KMT. After the war Stanley Wei and William Jong travelled to Hong Kong and organised the Hong Kong Seamen’s Union into a militant left-wing body.34

By June 1943, the CSU had established branches in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The majority of its members were based in Sydney. During the war the CSU’s radicalism gave the small Chinese community in Sydney optimism and confidence even if the union was only tolerated by the large merchants loyal to the KMT. As the sea lanes beyond Australia remained open to Japanese attack the manning of ships became unpredictable. The CSU found work for its members in factories, cafes, hotels or market gardens when the MIC did not require their labour. In April, 1943 the CSU organised 300 seamen to work as labourers in the construction of the Warragamba Dam, 80 kilometres southwest of Sydney. Following Manpower Directive instructions the CSU at Warragamba formed an autonomous work brigade for which William Jong acted as interpreter, adviser and secretary.35 In July 1943 the entire membership of the CSU in Melbourne was transferred to a United States Army camp at Balimba on the Brisbane River. With the 200 CSU Brisbane members the seamen from Melbourne formed the “Chinese Camp”. Their labour built landing barges for the United States invasion of the Philippines.36

As the Japanese threat receded after the Battle of Guada Canal, the commandeered ships of Australia’s merchant service traversed the sea lanes more freely. Although fewer Chinese crews worked these ships, Chinese seamen were awarded wages to 80 per cent of SUA wages and war bonuses in December 1944, through the National Security (Chinese Seamen) Regulations.37 These financial improvements were established after the Federal Attorney General, Dr. HV Evatt, ordered an inquiry into the working and living conditions of Chinese seamen aboard ship. The inquiry found that Chinese seamen were ill-treated, assaulted by ship’s officers, lacked rudimentary medical care, worked long, unscheduled hours and lived in conditions “designed for native crews”. While ship owners resisted improving working and living conditions because of both the expense and the urgency to carry cargo during the war, they conceded to the demands for wage increases and bonuses and, where possible, a standard 44 hour week.38

The exigencies of war had brought the CSU into existence. By the end of the war, organisation gave the Chinese seamen the strength to improve some of their conditions of work and the means to express their anti-imperialist resolve. The Japanese occupation of China and its seizure of the European colonial empires in Southeast Asia presented new possibilities for struggle for Chinese seamen in Australia. These possibilities ended with the Allied victory in the Pacific. As the MIC was dismantled the old conditions of work and racial division were reimposed aboard European and American ships. The conditions the CSU had secured in the war were lost. The CSU as a union was losing its meaning as hundreds of its members sought to return to China on the verge of civil war.

The final mobilisation of the disintegrating CSU was for the cause of Indonesian independence from Dutch imperialism. Shipping in the immediate post-war years was in chaos as Holland sought to re-establish its control of the Indonesian archipelago. When the Indonesian independence movement called upon the Australian labour movement for its support in resisting the return of Dutch colonial rule, Chinese and Indonesian seamen walked off Dutch chartered ships and Australian maritime unions declared Dutch ships black. Chinese seamen spearheaded demonstrations against the Dutch in Australia. When the Dutch authorities cast 60 Indonesian patients out of its Turramurra TB clinic, Chinese seamen gave them food and beds in their union offices. As the boycott of Dutch shipping deepened the Chifley Labor government attempted to deport Chinese seamen because of their militancy.39 The CSU gave enormous financial support to the boycott’s fighting fund. The CSU and the CYL raised most of the funds for the film, Indonesia Calling, a re-enactment of the boycott, directed by the Dutch anti-imperialist, Joris Ivens.40 The Chinese seamen’s refusal to man the Dutch ships inspired the refusal of Indian seamen transhipped by Britain to break the boycott. After the first boycott against Dutch shipping was broken in July, 1946 most Chinese seamen returned to a country about to sweep away the old order.

The work and achievements of the Chinese seamen is a forgotten episode in Australia labour history. Stranded at various Australian ports because of the lightning victories of Japan in the early months of the Pacific War, Chinese seafarers took a stand. They refused to work under the conditions which had obtained on foreign owned vessels and in the added dangers of war. They opposed Japanese militarism but they equally opposed their continued exploitation because of wartime necessity. The war offered them the rare opportunity to establish a militant union free of KMT coercion. After their mass refusal in early 1942 to return to work on foreign ships docked in Australian ports, SUA and WWF officials assisted the Chinese seamen to found an Australian branch of the Chinese seamen’s union in Sydney’s Chinatown.

The location of Chinatown to Sydney’s wharves was of crucial cultural, social, economic and political significance to the CSU. It proved less so in Melbourne and Brisbane. Sydney’s Chinatown was a haven for the Chinese seafarers. Individually, they rarely ventured far from it. For it was in Chinatown they could find lodgings, food, friendship and speak in their native tongue. Through their cultural performances with the CYL they kept alive in Sydney’s Chinese community the need to oust the Japanese invaders from China and became part of that community temporarily. Nevertheless, they were separated from the class relations of Sydney’s white social order by their confinement in Chinatown.

Chinese who were not seamen and who had strong links to the WWF, the SUA and the CPA organised their union’s affairs and maintained the CSU’s members’ sense of separation if not isolation. Chinese and Australian crews worked on separate ships. Never was there an attempt at integration. Perhaps the barriers of race and culture were too high for the CSU or SUA to surmount. The temporary residence of the Chinese seamen allowed their leaders and the Australian authorities to deploy their labour power on ships, dam construction and boat building collectively and separately during the war. In the immediate postwar period the CSU members rallied to the cause of Indonesian independence just as their labour power was no longer needed to work ships. When the first boycott against the Dutch ended in July 1946 workless Chinese seamen left Australia for a China in revolutionary change.

The Chinese Seamen’s Union never threatened the Great White Walls of prejudice in Australia least of all amongst their Australian counterparts. Their proletarian patriotism ensured that they assisted the Australian war effort on terms acceptable to them as union members. The wartime unity the CSU forged with the SUA was always temporary and based on racial separation at the workplace. If their presence in Australia is forgotten, how they are to be remembered may prove equally vexatious to an Australian labour movement noted for its racial exclusionism.

*This essay is dedicated to a wise teacher, Arthur Gar-Lock Chang.

1 Employee Organisations: Chinese Seamen’s Union in Australia, Part 1, Series A 6122/47, Item 1849, National Archives of Australia and Brian Fitzpatrick and Rowan J. Cahill, The Seamen’s Union of Australia, 1872-1972: A History, Seamen’s Union of Australia, Sydney, 1981, p.178.
2 Nym Wales, The Chinese Labor Movement, John Day, New York, 1945, pp.202-207. Interview with Arthur Gar-Lock Chang, Forestville, NSW, 9 December, 2000. Employee Organisations: Chinese Seamen’s Union…Part 3, Series A 6122/47, Item 1848.
3 Lists of occupations with Chinese and European pay rates are found in Employee Organisations: Chinese Seamen’s Union… Part 3.
4 Lauri Talibi, Keeping the Natives Under Control: Race Segregation and the Domestic Tensions of Empire, 1920-1939, International Labor and Working Class History, No.44, Fall, 1993, p.64. Although Talibi’s analysis is of British shipping companies’ policies towards black seafarers working in the Atlantic trade, her general argument, with modification, could apply to Chinese seamen working on European ships during the interwar period. Further primary research is needed in this area.
5 Wales, Chinese Labor, pp.202-205.
6 Wales, Chinese Labor, p.206.
7 Employee Organisations: Chinese Seamen’s Union…Part 1.
8 Fitzpatrick and Cahill, Seamen’s Union, p.178. There is no mention of the “fatal results to two Chinese seamen in the unfortunate incident at Freemantle” in the Fitzpatrick and Cahill study. For evidence see Employee Organisations: Chinese Seamen’s Union…Part 3. The names of the Chinese seamen killed by Australian soldiers are not cited in this file.
9 “Arthur Gar-Lock Chang” in Morag Loh and Judith Wintenitz (eds.) Dinki-Di: The Contributions of Chinese Immigrants and Australians of Chinese Descent to Australia’s defence forces and war efforts, 1899-1988, AGPS Press Publication, Canberra, 1989, pp.107-110. The military solution for the Chinese seamen is mentioned in Fitzpatrick and Cahill, Seamen’s Union, p.178.
10 Employee Organisations: Chinese Seamen’s Union…Part 1.
11 Employee Organisations: Chinese Seamen’s Union…Part 3
12 The author offers a biographical sketch of Fred Wong in The Hummer, Vol.3, No.4, Winter, 2000, pp.1-13. William Jong (Ngok Bew Jong) and Stanley Wei (Bo Tac Wei) were born in Canton. They held Certificates of Exemption arranged by their merchant fathers in Sydney which allowed them to travel to China and freely return to Australia. Wei who was born in 1912 was the “Chief Organiser” and general secretary of the union. He had worked as a teacher and journalist in Canton during the 1930s. Jong, born in 1917, received a classical education in China and attended high school in Sydney. From 1938 he had worked as a compositor on the Chinese Times, the KMT’s Sydney newspaper. Wong, Wei and Jong were considered by Australian intelligence to be “well educated, speakers of good English, familiar with Australian law, influential amongst the Chinese and active communists”. See Employee Organisations: Chinese Seamen’s Union…Part 4.
 13 A copy of the union’s rules and objectives translated from the Chinese are found in Employee Organisations: Chinese Seamen’s Union…Part 3.
14 Employee Organisations: Chinese Seamen’s Union…Part 4.
15 China—National Security Regulations, Chinese Seamen, Series A 1838, Item 494/5/1/1, National Archives of Australia.
16 Australian intelligence believed that Stanley Wei, Harry Poon and William Jong were both CPA and CCP members. See Bo Tac Wei aka Stanley Wei, Series A 6119, Item 409, National Archives of Australia.
17 Sino-Japanese dispute—Chinese view of SS Silksworth, Series A 1606, D 41/1/1, National Archives of Australia and Vic Bird, SS Silksworth Dispute of 1937: A Memoir, Melbourne May Day Committee, 1991.
18 Rupert Lockwood, War on the Waterfront: Menzies, Japan and the Pig-Iron Dispute, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1987, p.207. Fred Wong’s efforts are cited in The Hummer, Vol.3, No.4, Winter, 2000, pp.5-6.
19 Fitzpatrick and Cahill, Seamen’s Union, pp.115-135.
21 Fitzpatrick and Cahill, Seamen’s Union, pp.136-139.
22 Rupert Lockwood, Black Armada: Australia and the struggle for Indonesian independence , 1942-49, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1982, pp.168-171.
23 China—National Security Regulations—Chinese Seamen, Series A 1838, Item 494/5/1/1, National Archives of Australia and E.V. Elliott, Merchant Seamen in the War, Worker Print, Sydney, 1944, p.16.
24 Australian intelligence saw the “leading Communists”, William Bird, Barney Smith and J.B. Miles as “instructors” of the “communist leaders” of the CSU. See Chinese/ Bew WJN (William Jong), Series SP 11/2, Item 3540754, National Archives of Australia.
25 A copy of the Agreement is located in Chinese Seamen’s Union, Seamen’s Union of Australia, E 183/26/38, Noel Butlin Archives Centre, The Australian National University.
26 China—National Security Regulations—Chinese Seamen, Series A 1838, Item 494/5/1/1.
27 Interview with Arthur Gar-Lock Chang, Forestville, NSW, 9 December, 2000. Stanley Wei’s political influence over the Chinese seamen in Sydney is assessed by Australian intelligence and its informers in Po Tac Wei aka Stanley Wei, Series A 6119, Item 409.
28 Interview with Arthur Gar-Lock Chang, Forestville, NSW, 6 September, 1999. The intelligence profile of Chang in this period is found in Arthur Locke, Series A 6119/5, Item 410, National Archives of Australia.
29 China—National Security Regulations—Chinese Seamen, Series A 1838, Item 494/5/1/1.
30 The registers were shown to the author at a Chinese restaurant in the Haymarket, 19 May, 2000.
31 Interview with Arthur Gar-Lock Chang, Forestville, NSW, 17 July, 2000.
32 An imaginative exploration of the social meaning of a similar cultural setting of Chinatown is offered in Yong Chen, Chinese San Francisco 1850-1943, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 1999. Shirley Fitzgerald, Red Tape, Gold Scissors, State Library of NSW Press, Sydney, 1997, examines some of the Chen themes in her study of Sydney’s Chinese community.
33 Interview with Arthur Gar-Lock Chang, Forestville, NSW, 5 October, 1999. See also Fifty-Five Years of the Chinese Youth League, The Chinese Herald, 19 September, 1994. (Translated by Too Pang Fan) Dr Shirley Fitzgerald gave this reference to the author.
34 Employee Organisations: Chinese Seamen’s Union…Part 3.
35 China—National Security Regulations—Chinese Seamen, Series A 1838, Item 494/5/1/1.
36 Chinese employed by US Army at Bulimba, Brisbane, Series D 1976/1, Item 1943/375, National Archives of Australia.
37 The Regulations are located in China—National Security Regulations—Chinese Seamen, Series A 1838, Item 494/5/1/1.
38 Extracts from the inquiry are found in Stanley Wei’s security file. See Po Tac Wei aka Stanley Wei, Series A 6119, Item 409.
39 Lockwood, Black Armada, pp.125-134 and pp.168-171.
40 Interview with Arthur Gar-Lock Chang, Forestville, NSW, 10 December, 2000.