A Historical Survey of Organizations of the Left Among the Chinese in America
by H. M. Lai (1972)
The history of the left among the Chinese in America is
a neglected chapter in the history of the Chinese community.
This is a preliminary survey of the left movements until the
end of the 1950's; most of the emphasis in the present essay is
on activities in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is the author's
hope that this initial sketch, superficial as it may be, will
inspire others to probe to greater depths into this little
investigated but significant phase in the history of the Chinese
in this country.
There were two factors entering into the causation of
left-wing activities among the Chinese in America—one, from
China, was inspired by national salvation and national
revolution, while the other, arising from the exploitation and
discrimination in America, was motivated by a desire for
betterment of their own lot. These two factors were present
throughout the history of the left among the Chinese In
America, although one or the other predominated at times.
The Introduction of Socialist Doctrines to the Chinese
The latter half of the 19th Century was a time of travail
for the Chinese people. After the bayonets and cannons of the
West had battered down China's wall of isolation, the ancient
empire found herself unable to cope with the aggressive
Westerners as her traditional social structure and self-sufficient
economy crumbled before their thrusts, and territories and
concessions were yielded to the pugnacious occidentals.
Toward the end of the century, partitioning of China by the
powers and submittal to colonial status appeared inevitable.
This was a time of peril for the nation. Concerned
Chinese began quests for ways toward national salvation.
Among these were a number of intellectuals who examined
and accepted socialism as the goal toward eventual
regeneration of the Chinese nation.
At the turn of the century, China was greatly dependent
upon Japanese sources for information on Western culture,
and the introduction of socialism was no exception.1 It was
through Japanese writings that Chinese students and
intellectuals were first exposed to the doctrines of Marx,
Engels, and others. Beginning in 1903, books, pamphlets and
articles on socialism also were published in Chinese. Many
articles on this subject appeared in the newspapers and
periodicals established at the time by both the Chinese Empire
Reform Association (Zhongguo Weixinhui) led by Kang
Youwei and Liang Qichao, and the revolutionary Zhongguo
Tongmenghui, led by Sun Vat-sen. Drawing much of their
support from the overseas Chinese, both organization's
publications had broad reading audiences in the overseas
Chinese communities, and as a result had wide circulation
abroad. Certainly, in an age when most Chinese readers were
not familiar with Western languages, these publications were
important sources for those Chinese interested in socialist
Initially the brand of socialism from the West espoused
by the Chinese writers was generally that advocated by
social-democrats of the Second International. Ideological
limitations of most of these intellectual socialists, derived as
they were mainly from the gentry classes, led to great hostility
toward violent revolutionary methods. Paralleling this
development, however, was a growing interest in anarchism
and nihilism among some of the younger revolutionaries.2
By mid-decade, articles advocating anarchism as the
guide for revolution began to predominate in Chinese socialist
writings. The doctrines of Proudhon, Bakunin and Kropotkin
became the fad in Chinese revolutionary circles. Many young,
impatient, romantic petit bourgious intellectuals became
attracted to the simple solution of committing individual
heroic acts of terrorism to pull down and destroy the old order
as represented by the Manchu dynasty.
The Russian Revolution of 1905 gave further impetus to
the growth of popularity of anarchism, and by 1907 anarchist
groups formed among students in Japan and France. Within a
short time the doctrine spread to China and to the overseas
The American Milieu and Development of the Left among the
Chinese in America
Chinese peasants emigrating to America had hoped to
find a better life. Instead, in the land of liberty they found not
freedom and prosperity, but discrimination and intolerance,
and finally suffered the dubious distinction of being the first
ethnic group to be singled out for exclusion from the u.s. in
1882. The great majority of Chinese who lived and worked in
America were exploited by employers, merchants and labor
contractors both within and without their own community.
Although Chinese labor had been characterized as being docile
and tractable, the not so infrequent strikes and sometimes
violent reactions of Chinese labor to exploitation showed that
they did not take their miserable lot as passively and
fatalistically as some Western historians had put it.
Contemporary accounts show that they fought back when
given the proper leadership and organization.4 It was expected
that the socialist doctrines as the way toward that better world
would strike sympathetic chords among at least some of the
Chinese in America.
At this time, many members of the American working
class were strongly influenced by the socialist doctrines.
Worker solidarity was one of the basic tenets of socialism,
whether Marxist or Anarchist. However, during the early years
of the 20th Century, this was a myth as far as Chinese workers
are concerned, because the American labor movement in
general was extremely hostile to Chinese labor. Even the
so-called Marxist Socialists, in spite of their professed belief in
the brotherhood of the working man, supported the
"unconditional exculsion of Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and
Hindus...." from this country.5 Only the anarcho-syndicalist
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) held true to the belief
that fraternal bonds existed among all wage earners regardless
of racial lines, and set about to enroll Asian workers, including
Chinese, into the unions on an equal basis with workers of
other racial groups. The I.W.W. was never too successful in
their recruiting campaign. But at least some Asians were won
over to their cause, for during this period at least two Chinese
were translating I.W.W. literature into Chinese in San
At this time, the Chinese in America were excluded from
large scale modern industries, thus they lacked the discipline
that workers in large industries qcquired. Moreover, stimulated
on the one hand by anarchist writings from China, and on the
other by the fraternal hand extended to them by the I.W.W. it
was natural for some early Chinese radicals to lean toward
By 1914, a small group of socialists had formed a
Chinese Socialist Club in San Francisco.7 With the coming of
the post-World War I depression and the steady deterioration
of the Chinese worker's economic position,
anarcho-syndicalists became increasingly active among the
workers and in 1919 the Sanfanshi Gongyi Tongmeng Zonghui
(Workers' League of San Francisco) was formed.8
The League aimed its first action at Chinese shirt
manufacturing factories in San Francisco and Oakland. On
May 18, 1919, the new workers' organization presented nine
demands to factory owners.9 After strike threats and several
negotiating sessions at the Young Wo Association in San
Francisco, they finally signed agreements with 32 factories.
Following this initial success the league soon created two
additional departments: one for agriculture and one for
miscellaneous occupations. In September 1919 a branch was
established among Chinese agricultural workers in Suisun,
California. The League then changed its name to Meizhou
Gongyi Tongmeng Zonghui (Unionist Guild of America, UGA) to suit the new situation.
In the meantime, the owners had organized to
counter-attack. During the next few years, by presenting a
united front against the workers. the employers defeated
several strikes led by the UGA. The WLA's fortunes
declined as they were unabie to rally worker support and it
disappeared from the Chinatown scene around 1927.
At its height the UGA claimed a nominal membership of
about a thousand. It was the high point of anarcho-syndicalist
activity among Chinese workers in America. This peak was
never to be approached again. The demise of the UGA,
however, demonstrated the difficulty Chinese workers would
have in achieving lasting gains in a situation where they were
going it alone without much fraternal support from workers in
the larger society.
Following the disappearance of the UGA, the anarchist
movement in San Francisco's Chinese community was
sustained by the Ping Sheh (Equality Society), a political club.
Occasional police harassmentlO and lack of community
support made it difficult for this small group to accomplish
much except to publish pamphlets and a monthly magazine
Pingdeng (Equality) from 1926 to around 1931,11 and
infrequently to distribute leaflets in support of workers'
struggles in Chinatown.12 In 1934 another group of anarchists
organized the Wuzhengfu Gongchanzhuyizhe Lianmeng
(Alliance of Anarcho-Communists) and issued another
monthly publication, the Wuzhengfu Gongcban Yuekan
(Anarcho-Communist Monthly). 13 But this, however,
represented the efforts of only a few zealots without much
Times continued to be difficult for the anarchists in the
midst of the Great Depression of the 1930's. By this time
Marxism had become dominant in the socialist movement.
However, the Equality Society managed to survive until the
eve of World War II.
The Chinese anarcho-syndicalist movement of the 1920's
and 1930's was not limited only to the San Francisco Bay
Area. The Chinese Labor Association (Huaren Gonghui),
founded in Vancouver, B.C., during the mid-1920's to struggle
against labor contractors, had an anarchist leadership.14 And
during the 1930's a Jue She (Awaken Society) was organized
in New York City.15
By the end of the 1930's, however, the anarchist
movement had run its course. The cause of its decline among
the Chinese in America was directly connected with its decline
in America as a whole. The growth of mass unions and large,
complex industries was contradictory to anarcho-syndicalist
decentralization and anti-leadership concepts. Bigness
engendered a need for disciplined mass action which was
contrary to the syndicalists' ideas of spontaneity. Their
extreme left wing tactics, such as standing aloof from
conservative trade unions, isolated them from the mass of
workers. Moreover, following the Russian Revolution, the
better-organized Marxist communists attracted many elements
from the syndicalist organizations, thus sounding their death
knell.16 As syndicalism withered to a mere splinter on the left
anarchists tended to become anti-capitalist, anti-soviet and
The anarcho-syndicalists formed one of the earliest
radical socialist organizations among the Chinese in America.
Bur just as the Neanderthal Man was an early branch-off from
the main line of development leading to homo sapiens, the
anarchIst movement in Chinatown was an early development
of the Chinese left which led into a blind alley. Today its
effects upon the Chinese community can hardly be detected.
The Communist-Kuomintang Alliance in China and its Effects
It is not known when the Chinese in America first
became interested in Marxism. Undoubtedly there were
already some who received a smattering of the socialist
doctrines during the 1900's. The October Revolution was the
stimulus spurring more Chinese in China as well as Chinese in
this country to study the Marxist doctrines. For instance, in
Dec. 1919 there was already a group calling themselves Xin
Shehui (New Society) formed in San Jose, California, "to
study capitalism and communism and the radical politics of
the New Russia."17 However Marxism was not influential
among the Chinese left in America until after the Canton
Revolutionary Government led by Sun Yat-sen made an
alliance with the USSR and admitted Communists to the
Kuomintang. Because of this alliance, Marxists among the
Chinese in America were very active in support of the Chinese
Revolution. They were found in many Kuomintang
Given the discriminatory conditions under which the
Chinese in America lived, and the hope for the creation of a
strong independent China by the successful completion of the
Chinese Revolution led by the Revolutionary Government of
Sun Yat-sen, it was not surprising that Marxism augmented its
influence in the Chinese community at this time. This period
saw the first political involvement of many who were to
continue to participate in activities of the Chinese left in
America during the next three decades. And it was probably
during these years that the first Chinese in the U.S. joined the
America Communist Party. A Chinatown Branch of the party
had been established in San Francisco by the late 1920's,
where it was active until around the beginning of the Korean
War.18 However, it was the popularly-based organizations of
the left which had the greatest effect on the Chinese
community. And in these organizations, Marxists, liberals,
nationalists and others worked together to carry into effect
certain economic and political programs as reflected by the
needs of the times.
One of the earliest such organizations, established among
Chinese workers in San Francisco during the mid-1920's, was
the Huaqiao Gonghui (Chinese Workers' Club), which aided
and educated Chinese workers and especially gave aid to the
Chinese Revolution. This organization, alleged to be one of the
first to fly the Kuomintang's national flag in San Francisco's
Chinatown, lasted only a few years and disappeared around
1930, its demise hastened no doubt by the
Kuomintang-Communist split in China during the late
1920's,19 which caused political repercussions in Chinese
communities allover the world.
Another organization supporting the Chinese Revolution
during this period of the Kuomintang-Communist Alliance was
the Chinese Students Club (Zhongguo Xueshenghui),
composed of Chinese students of various political beliefs all
over the U.S. interested in the building of a China free from
foreign domination. In the San Francisco Bay Area the group
included university and high school students, mostly from
China but also included some American-born. Following
Chiang Kai-shek's coup in Shanghai in 1927, when the more
conservative students in the Chinese Students Club turned
their backs on the Revolution, student supporters of the
Chinese Revolution in the San Francisco Bay Area regrouped
to form the Sanfanshi Zhongguo Xueshenghui (San Francisco
Chinese Students Club). In the same period, revolutionary
working class elements formed another group, the Zhongguo
Gong-Nong Geming Datongmeng (Grand Revolutionary
Alliance of Chinese Workers and Peasants, ACWP) to oppose
the KMT right in San Francisco's Chinatown. The ACWP also
published a weekly newspaper, Xianfeng Zhoukan (The
Vanguard) to air their support of the Chinese Revolution.20 In
the community feelings ran high as the left and right
denounced each other. Political street meetings frequently
broke up as hecklers from the opposition engaged in fights
with the participants.21
On the Eastern seaboard, left elements opposing the
Kuomintang right wing also were active as early as their
compatriots on the Pacific Coast. A branch of the ACWP also
existed in Philadelphia as early as 1928. By 1930 the Chinese
Anti-Imperialist Alliance of America (Meizhou Huaqiao Fandi
Datongmeng), which appeared to be a successor organization
to the ACWP, established the Chinese Vanguard (Xianfeng
Bao), as a monthly in Philadelphia.22 Later it was moved to
New York City and published as a weekly. After its demise
during the mid-1930's, another weekly of similar editorial
views, National Salvation (Jiuguo Shibao)" was transferred
from Paris to commence publication in New York City.23
However, the masses in Chinatown then were not in a
revolutionary mood and the circulations of these papers
remained small; their effects on the Chinese community were
limited. However, these publications marked the beginnings of
the press of the Marxist left among the Chinese in America.
Besides hostility from the right in the Chinese
community, the left also received much harassment from the
police. For example in 1929 the San Francisco police, perhaps
egged on by the KMT right-wing, raided the headquarters of
the San Francisco Chinese Students club and closed it for
alleged communist activities.24 - 25
By the end of the decade, overt activities in support of
the Chinese Revolution had ebbed among the Chinese in
America. The Kuomintang right, in collaboration with the
police and supported by the conservative merchants, gained
control in the community.
The new alignment of forces in Chinatown saw increased
contacts between the Chinese and American left. It was
undoubtedly through such collaborative efforts that resulted
in a delegate of the militant Chinese Laundry Workers Union
(Xifutang) being asked to attend a San Francisco Labor
Council meeting in 1929 to report on their victory in a week
long strike against Chinese laundries in the San Francisco Bay
Area. 26 This was the first time a Chinese organization was
invited and marked the small beginnings which led to fuller
participation of Chinese workers in the American labor
movement. (Earlier in 1925 the WLA had appealed to
American labor unions for donations and support for Chinese
striking in protest against Japanese and British brutality in
Shanghai; however, this was not followed up by further efforts
at closer collaboration.)27
The Chinese Workers Mutual Aid Association
The 1930's were hard times for the American working
class, as industry stagnated during the Great Depression. The
labor-management struggle in American became acute as labor
fought for better working conditions. In Chinatown the
Chinese left worked actively with the American Marxist left.
Early in the decade a group of Chinese leftists formed an
unemployment council in San Francisco's Chinatown and led
unemployed Chinese on a march to the Chinese Six
Companies,28 the nominal spokesman for the Chinese in
America, to ask for relief. The Chinatown marchers later
joined a demonstration of the unemployed on Market St. to
mark one of the earliest instance of American Chinese
participating in such action outside the Chinese community.29
Soon afterward the same group organized the Chinese Workers
Center (Huagong Zhongxin, CWC) to help Chinese workers
find employment, and call upon them to unite and to support
the Chinese Revolution. However, after a brief career, the
headquarters of the CWC was demolished by the San Francisco
Police around the time of the San Francisco General Strike of
The following years saw increasing collaboration
between the Chinese left and left-wing elements in the
American labor movement. The experience gained by these
Chinese militants led to an increasing awareness among
Chinese that cooperation with groups outside the Chinese
community was essential to help effect changes in Chinatown
and to improve workers' conditions.
In the mid-1930's, in cooperation with American
progressive elements, the Chinese left in San Francisco
undertook an abortive attempt to unionize the garment
industry by establishing an independent Chinese Lady
Garment Workers Union. (The more conservative,
well-established, and wealthier Ladies Garment Workers Union
was more successful in their rival attempt.)31
In another try, which was more successful, Chinese left
elements worked with American labor to attack the notorious
Chinese contract system existing in the Alaskan salmon
canneries and to demand collective bargaining rights. In 1936,
picket lines were set up at the docks to halt loading of ships of
Alaskan Packers Association. (However, because of
intimidation and threats by the Chinese contractors, the
Chinese only worked behind the scene and did not appear on
the picket lines.) The association capitulated and the workers,
which included many racial groups, gained the right to
unionize, and the contract system was finally abolished.32 As
an aftermath of the victory, a group of Chinese workers on a
ship returning from a canning season in Alaska developed the
idea of forming a Chinese workers' association. 33 The Chinese
Workers' Mutual Aid Association (CWMAA, Huagong
Hezuohui) was officially established in September 1937. Its
aim was to unite Chinese workers and through the cooperation
and exchange of experiences, raise the status of Chinese
workers in the labor unions and improve their working
conditions.34 Its formation was a manifestation of a more
mature stage in the development of the Chinese left movement
as it profited from experience.
Starting as a center for channeling information on
employment in the canneries and as a gathering place for
returned cannery workers, the CWMAA went on to broaden
the scope of its functions to encourage Chinese workers to join
the trade unions and to recognize the value of working
collectively to better the working man's condition. The
CWMAA filled a need in the community, for soon after its
formation there were 400 to 500 members on its membership
The CWMAA was the first Chinese workers' organization
to work actively with people in the American labor movement
to achieve a common goal. Their many links with CIO and AF
of L unions such as the International Longshoremen's Union,
the Cannery Workers' Union and Miscellaneous Workers
Union, etc., were extremely useful in introducing Chinese to
employment in the larger society. However, it was true that
contacts of the CWMAA with the larger community were
hampered somewhat by the fact that many members lacked
facility in the use of English. But the basic philosophy of
identity of interests among the members of the working class
regardless of ethnic background was accepted. Much of the
association's strength and success was based on the
demonstration of this concept.
The Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance36
There was no catalyst leading toward the formation of a
Chinese workers' association in New York City, because of the
greater dispersal of Chinese workers in the Eastern part of the
country. Instead, the great number of laundries, many with
common problems and grievances, served as the nucleus for
the formation of a popularly based organization of the left.
By the 1930's, Chinese exclusion had been in effect half
a century. Those "fortunate"enough to be able to reside in the
land of liberty accepted discrimination as part of daily life.
Economically the Chinese were systematically excluded from
many industries and relegated to the least sought after areas of
occupations, such as the laundry business. But even in these
areas generally despised by most whites, the ugly head of racist
discrimination reared itself.
A systematic campaign was directed against Chinese
laundrymen in the eastern U.S. In 1933 an ordinance was
proposed in N.Y.C. to charge a license fee of $25 per year on
all public laundries plus a security bond of $1,000. This was
designed to discriminate against small laundries, many of
which were run with marginal profits by Chinese who could ill
afford exorbitant fees. The traditional Chinese organi-zations,
especially the Chinese Benevolent Association (Zhonghua
Gongso),37 handled the issue ineptly. As a result, a coalition
of dissatisfied radical and liberal Chinese, with the support of
the Chinese Journal, a New York City paper, organized the
Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance (Huaqiao Yiguan Lianhehui,
CHLA) in 1933 to oppose the bill. After much maneuvering
the ordinance was passed, but the license fee was reduced to
$10 and the security bond to $100. The CHLA received the
major credit for these reductions.
After this initial success the Alliance won a large
following. New York City laundrymen who joined were
organized into districts each with their own representatives to
the CHLA council. It raised small amounts of revenue by
serving as witness to the sale of laundries, a function which
formerly was the prerogative claimed by the Chinese
Benevolent Association, the nominal leader of the New York
Chinese community. It also provided help for its members to
fill out tax forms and license applications. It became the first
successful Chinese organization to work outside the
framework of the traditional Chinese establishment.
The CHLA's outlook on Chinese relations with the
greater community was far more progressive than most other
Chinese groups. During the depths of the depression, for
example, more than 500 Chinese laundrymen from the
Alliance marched in the NRA (National Recovery Act) parade.
This was a high water mark for the participation of a Chinese
organization in the East in American national affairs.
The traditional Chinese power structure was unwilling to
let the Alliance's challenge to their authority go by without
reaction. One year after the formation of the CHLA, a
conservative faction within it was induced to split away and
form the Chinese Hand Laundry Association (Huaqiao Yiguan
Tongye Zonghui). Most of the members remained loyal to the
CHLA, however, and in 1934 it still enjoyed an active
membership of over 3,200.
The CHLA considered itself a new type of Chinese
organization. It put itself on record against what it considered
to be outmoded ideas and feudal customs in Chinese society.
Many members had little to do with traditional Chinese
organizations.38 Some members of this organization helped to
found and support the first daily paper of the left among
Chinese in America—the Chinese Daily News, which succeeded
the National Salvation Weekly in 1940.39
The CHLA was never more than an alliance of small
proprietors. Its importance lay in the demonstration of the
value of collective strength. For years it was a staunch
supporter of the Chinese Revolution within the New York
Chinese Community, the largest in the eastern part of
The War Against Fascism
The CWMAA and the CHLA were both born in a time of
troubles for the peoples of the world. Beside the economic
disaster of the Great Depression, the 1930 's saw the marching
armies of the axis powers—Germany, Japan and Italy,
menacing the world. By the end of the decade, internal
contradictions such as that existing between labor and capital
had to be temporarily shelved as both turned to concentrate
upon defeating the common enemy. In the Chinese
community this had added meaning as the motherland, China,
was fighting for survival against Japanese aggression. One of
the major programs of the CWMAA was to rally support
among Chinese workers to oppose the Japanese aggression in
China. At this time, the Communists and the Kuomintang had
effected a truce in China, similarly both left and right in the
Chinese community called a temporary halt to their quarrels
to unite against Japanese militarism, and the Association
became very active in the United China War Relief Society (Lu
Mei Huaqiao Tongyi Yijuan Jiuguozonghui), the overall
organization coordinating war relief fund drives and other
activities in the U.S. Chinese community.
Before the Pearl Harbor attack, some profit-hungry
American businessmen were still selling material to the
Japanese war machine. However, an increasing sector of U.S.
public opinion, in which the left and the liberals figured
prominently, opposed this short-sighted policy. Among the
most visible targets for the protesters was the sale of scrap iron
to Japan, and during the closing years of the decade, picket
lines were often seen at various U.S. ports to protest against
loading scrap iron on ships headed for the Land of the Rising
In San Francisco, this protest was expressed particularly
vehemently in December 1938 when the Greek freighter
Spyros began loading scrap iron destined for Japan. The
CWMAA received news of the intended shipment from friends
in the American labor movement. While its members manned
hastily thrown up picket lines at the pier, the organization
called on the rest of the community to join them. A few days
later students, workers, merchants, housewives and others
from Chinatown, as well as many sympathizers, converged
upon the waterfront to register their disapproval. The
longshoremen refused to cross the picket lines. By the time the
action ended, the number of pickets had swelled to 3,000.
Even though the freighter finally did load its holds with the
scrap metal, this dramatic exhibition of unity by the Chinese
impressed many Americans and led to renewed calls to ban the
sale of scrap iron to Japan. During the suc<:eeding months the
CWMAA continued to play a prominent role in picketing
actions involving other ships loading scrap iron.
The CWMAA also held weekly public meetings at which
guest speakers representing different political opinions were
invited to air their views on subjects ranging from support for
the war effort to union activities.40 However, the new
left-right alliance among the Chinese was built on shaky
grounds and lasted only a few years. When the New 4th Army
Incident of 1940 disrupted the Communist-Kuomintang truce
in China,41 the CWMAA withdrew from further active
participation in the Kuomintang-dominated United China War
Relief Society in San Francisco's Chinatown.
In the Eastern part of the country the CHLA also took
part in similar war activities as the CWMAA. These two
organizations raised large sums of money to support China's
war effort. But it was the youth organizations, however, who
were most active and conspicuous in the cultural aspects of
propaganda work required to further this effort. The rise of
such organizations can be attribued to the Japanese invasion of
During the late 1930's many Chinese refugees of the
Sino-Japanese War emigrated to the U.S. They included a
number of young people and intellectuals who had been
exposed to two decades of new ideas and changes in China and
whose style and thinking differed significantly from that of
established Chinese groups in the U.S. Their ideologies
included nationalism, liberalism, and socialism. Many had
partici pated in anti-Japanese war propaganda work in China. It
was natural for these young people of kindred interest to seek
each other out in the new environment. Youth clubs
supporting the Chinese war effort developed in many of the
larger Chinese communities. One of the earliest was the
Niuyue Huaqiao Qingnian Jiuguotuan (familiarly known as
Qing-Jiu, Chinese Youth Club) founded in New York City in
1938. The club not only participated in anti-Japanese war
work within the community but was also active in the U.S.
youth movement generally participating in such events as May
First Labor Day parades.42
In San Francisco, the Chick Char Musical Club was
established in 1937 with the encouragement of Chinese
educator Tao Xingzhi.43 This club had a generally liberal
outlook and often took part in cultural programs at war rallies.
By 1941, however, it had lost much of its initial momentum
and another group, the New Chinese Alphabetized Language
Study Society (NCALSS, Sanfanshi Xinwenzi Yanjiuhui),
arose to playa more prominent role.
The NCALSS was originally organized to push the
alphabetic spelling of Chinese words and doing away with
Chinese characters, as a means of eradicating illiteracy. It grew
out of a mass movement in China during the 1930's which had
similar aims.44 By 1936 news of the movement had spread to
the Chinese in Hawaii,45 and in 1940 the Society was formed
in San Francisco.46 In addition to language reform, younger
members of the society began to organize activities such as
harmonica playing, choral singing, drama, etc. Within 3
months the activities of the organization were vastly
expanded, and the membership increased to approximately 30,
most of whom were recent immigrants in their late teens and
early twenties, all fired with the enthusiasm and idealism of
youth. The club rented a headquarters in a basement at 812
Stockton Street a few buildings from the headquarters of the
local KMT. For almost 20 years this was to be the center of
progressive youth activities in San Francisco's Chinatown. The
NCALSS soon became the most active youth group in the
In 1942, a coalition called the Lianhe Jiuguo Suanchuan
Tuan (United National Salvation Propaganda League)
comprising the NCALSS and two other local Chinese youth
clubs, presented a drama, whose proceeds went toward the
purchase of gifts for Chinese serving in the U.S. armed forces.
This organizational structure proved to be unsuitable for
recruiting new members, however, and early in 1943, the
Propaganda League was reorganized as the Jiasheng Huaqiao
Qingnian Jiuguotuan (familiarly known as Qing-Jiu, Chinese
Youth League). Cultural activities were diversified and vastly
expanded. Funds were raised to buy gifts for servicemen and
to send them publications and letters. This organization,
because of its superior organization and esprit de corps,
remained throughout the war the most active among
Chinatown youth groups. Excellent liaison was maintained
with other Chinatown youth clubs and with left and liberal
groups outside the Chinese community.48
Maximum CYL membership was about a hundred, but
their programs, including music and drama of modern China,
reached a public many times this number. Like the CWMAA,
the Chinese Youth League is also significant as a pioneer
Chinese group in reaching out to groups outside the Chinese
Between Hot and Cold Wars
During the years immediately following the end of
World War II, the Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance (CHLA) in
the East and the Chinese Workers Mutual Aid Association
(CWMAA) and the Chinese Youth League (CYL) in the West
all were particularly strong vocally in support for the Chinese
Revolution. In New York City the China Daily News
continued to speak out as the news organ of the left among
Chinese in America. As civil war between the KMT and the
Communists seemed increasingly likely, several members of
the CWMAA in San Francisfo had organized the Co-operative
Publishers (Hezuo Chubanshe) for the purpose of printing, in
Chinese, several classics of Chinese communism, thus for the
first time offering to U.S. Chinese the opportunity to acquaint
themselves with the program of the Chinese Revolution.49
The period during and immediately after the war had
seen some erosion in the mass base of the left organizations in
the Chinese community. On the Pacific Coast the Alaska
Packers' Association moved its headquarters to Seattle upon
the outbreak of hostilities between the U.S. and Japan and no
longer recruited workers in San Francisco. As a result,
membership of the CWMAA, a large number of which had
been cannery workers, began to dwindle.50 The end of the
war saw the wilting of the Chinatown youth movement. Many
erstwhile youths acquired family responsibilities; others lost
the idealism and fire of youth. There no longer appeared to be
any urgent task to unify youths. The Chinese Youth League
was one group that survived although with reduced
membership rolls. It established links with groups outside the
Chinese community such as the American Youth for
Democracy (AYD). In 1946 it changed its name to Chinese
American Democratic Youth League of San Francisco
(CADYL, Sanfanshi Minzhu Qingniantuan, familiarly known
The CADYL was active politically, giving support to
candidates of the Progressive Party in local and national
election campaigns. However its effectiveness among the
generally politically apathetic Chinese community was limited.
The post-war period also saw the formation of other
short-lived organizations of the left among the Chinese in
America. The Overseas Chinese League for Peace and
Democracy in China (Lu Mei Zhongguo Heping Minzhu
Lianmeng, OCLPDC) was founded in New York City in
November 1947 by Gen. Feng Yuxiang who at that time was
in exile in the U.S. The proclaimed aim of the organization,
which had chapters in New York, Washington, D.C., Minnesota
and San Francisco, was to urge a stop to American
interference in Chinese internal affairs, especially in the civil
war. Members of the group, which at its height totalled more
than 200, were mostly businessmen and intellectuals. 52 Later
as the Chinese Revolution drew to a successful conclusion,
organizations also appeared among Chinese university students
which advocated returning to the homeland to join in the
construction of a new China.53 Among these was the
nation-wide Alliance of Chinese Scientific and Technical
Workers (Liu Mei Kexue Gongzuozhe Xiehui).
This was indeed a most favorable period for the left in
the Chinese community. And on May 4, 1949 the China
Weekly (Jinmen QiaD Bao), some of whose backers were
members of the CWMAA, began publishing in San Francisco,
joining the China Daily News as news organs in the U.S.
Chinese community supporting the New China. It would seem
that slowly but surely, the forces supporting the Chinese
Revolution were gaining ground among the Chinese in
America. Fate was to prove treacherous, however.
On the evening of Oct. 9, 1949, at the 12th anniversary
celebration of the Chinese Workers Mutual Aid Association
held at Chinese American Citizens' Alliance Hall in San
Francisco's Chinatown, a celebration of the recent founding of
the People's Republic of. China was in progress. The
five-starred red flag of China was prominently displayed. The
meeting had hardly commenced when KMT-hired hoodlums
invaded the premises, seized the flag, beat up some
participants and dashed blue dye all over clothing of members
of the audience. The next day, KMT elements passed out
leaflets marking 15 individuals for eradica:ion .from the
Chinese community.54 This show of the mailed fist by the
KMT was a blunt warning to U.S. Chinese not to display their
sympathy for the Chinese Revolution too openly.
For a time, however, the forces supportmg New China
appeared to have recovered. The China Weekly and the China
Daily News continued to publish. Later in 1949 another group
of businessmen, some of whom were members of the OCPDC,
purchased the right-wing Chung Sai Yat Po and changed to a
editorial policy favorable to People's China. However, the
Korean War soon brought an end to this era.
The Right-wing Reaction
The 1950's signaled hard times for the left in the U.S. as
the forces of reaction launched a full-scale attack upon them.
Left organizations either dissolved or suffered drastic declines
in membership. The Chinese organizations were no different;
in fact, they suffered attacks from both the American right
and the KMT.
The cold war had already begun as the U.S. and the
U.S.S.R. confronted each other in Europe. In June 1950, war
broke out in Korea. Later that year, when Gen. MacArthur's
armies threatened China's frontier, Chinese troops crossed the
Yalu River. Many Chinese in this country became fearful that
they would be put in concentration camps just as the Japanese
were during World War II. Increased activity by F.B.1. agents
and immigration officials in the Chinese community added to
this apprehension and succeeded in intimidating many. The
first victim among the left Chinese newspapers was the China
Weekly. It ceased publication when the Chinese firm printing
the paper refused to service it after Chinese troops entered the
Korean War. Next was the Chung Sai Yat Po which folded in
Jan. 1951 due to declining circulation as frightened readers
cancelled their subscriptions. In 1955 the U.S. government
moved against the China Daily News, accusing it of traffic with
the enemy because of its advertisements for the Bank of
China. The paper was found guilty, fined and its manager
jailed.55 The paper's circulation dropped precipitously due to
harassment of subscribers. Today it struggles along, publishing
twice weekly with a small circulation of about 800, and exists
by relying on donations from its few remaining loyal
Among the left-wing Chinese organizations, membership
declined during the 1950's as apprehensive Chinese ceased to
attend meetings and stayed away from social functions. In San
Francisco, the CWMAA finally closed its doors in 1954 after
the membership dwindled to about 20. In New York. the
Chinese Youth Club also was dissolved at about the same time.
The Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance nearly suffered the
same fate. When Chinese armed forces entered the Korean War
the CHLA refused to join the anti-communist campaign
launched by the Chinese Benevolent Association (CBA) of
New York City. For this heresy the CHLA was expelled from
the CBA.56 During the 1950's, immigration authorities and
F.B.I. agents continually harassed CHLA members, and its
membership declined sharply. Today the organization exists
only as a pale shadow of its former self.
The only group which managed to maintain a fairly
extensive program during this era was the Chinese-Amencan
Democratic Youth League of San Francisco (the name was
later changed to Chinese Youth Club, but it was still known
familiarly in Chinese as Min-Qing). During the late 1940's,
many members had dropped out because of family or business
responsibilities, and it looked as if Min-Qing was a dying
institution. However, in 1949 and for a few years afterward, a
number of newly arrived young immigrants from China joined
the club and infused new life. In spite of this revitalization, the
cold war, the Korean War, and the assault against liberals and
the left during the McCarthy era, all severely curbed the club's
scope of activities. There began a period of harassment of
individual members by governmental investigation agents.
Practically every member was questioned by the F.B.I. as the
federal agents sought a non-existant link with the Chinese
People's Republic. Members who were in the armed forces
were barred from sensitive positions, and attempts were made
to give several of them undesirable discharges. However, in this
the government was unsuccessful as they were unable to
establish their charges of subversion. In spite of these
unfavorable circumstances Min-Qing managed to keep a fairly
constant membership of about 40 for almost a decade, and
was the most active independent youth group in Chinatown.
During this difficult period the club concentrated
heavily on educational and social activities. A counseling,
tutorial and remedial program was initiated in 1952 for the
benefit of members and friends, most of them new
immigrants. Members were encouraged to learn some skills in
order to become more useful members of society. The club
presented cultural programs at its headquarters at 812
Stockton St. two to three times per year. The performances
included plays, songs and other representative aspects of the
new Chinese culture. Min-Qing was one of the first
organizations in the San Francisco Chinese community to
present Chinese folk dances as well as the famous Yellow River
Cantata (Huanghe Dahechang) of Xian Xinghai. In addition to
this a biweekly mimeographed publication in the Chinese
language, Min-Qing, gave friends and members opportunity to
express their views. It is worth noting that thiS publicatIOn
was probably the first in this country to use the simplified
characters promulgated by the Chinese government in 1956.
The club also pioneered the use of the Hanzi Pinyin spelling to
teach Mandarin to members and friends. The club provided a
social gathering place for members and friends. Through
emphasis on mutual aid, group guidance and wholesome
collective activities, Min-Qing was able to achieve for its
members things which each individual could not have done.
The success of Min-Qing from start to finish was limited
by the difficulty of instilling and maintaining a truly collective
spirit within a larger society which encourages individualism.
As long as the club held together with an active, going program
the basic guiding principles of collectivism worked well. But
whenever activities declined or when the organization was
temporarily broken up, members tended to become more
concerned with personal career and family. Youth
organizations are notoriously ephemeral in nature. Min-Qing
through its various metamorphases from the New Chinese
Alphabetized Language Study Society to the Chinese Youth
Club survived almost two decades wherein it witnessed the rise
and fall of many other short-lived youth clubs. Few
independent youth organizations in the Chinese commmunity
of America can match this longevity record.
In 1959 Min-Qing lost its headquarters and disbanded.
Some members attempted to form another organization called
the Haiyan Club, but this club never regained the momentum
of Min-Qing. However, even if the club had not disbanded, it
probably would have been drastically affected by the
immigration investigations during the late 1950's, for during
the Chinese exclusion era, many Chinese, including some of
those who subsequently became active on the left, had entered
this country by fraudulent claims of citizenship. The
immigration authorities were well aware of this, and by
threats, coaxing, and other means they induced or forced
many Chinese to confess their fraudulent citizenship status.
Members of the left were special targets as they and their
relatives were systematically harassed. Many, including most of
the members of Min-Qing, were stripped of their
"citizenships." Some were prosecuted for defrauding the
government so as to warn others to be more cooperative.
Others were not given the right of permanent residence in this
country, thus having the threat of deportation hovering over
their heads indefinitely. In this manner the left and their
sympathizers were put on the defensive and their effectiveness
in the community was curbed drastically.
Some Concluding Words
For almost half a century from the eve of World War I to
the dying years of the McCarthy era, there was nearly always
some organization representing some ty'pe of socialism within
the Chinese community in America. In the past these groups
were always a minority in the community, but in spite of this
they made a significant impact. This was especially true of the
groups springing up after the late 1930's.
The Chinese left faced many obstacles. They were often
subjected to acts of harassment by government officials. Raids
by the San Francisco Police upon the Ping Sheh and the
Sanfanshi Zhongguo Xueshenghui in the late 1920's were clear
examples of this. Moreover, the Chinese exclusion acts over
the years had led to numerous illegal and fraudulent entries
among Chinese immigrants. Thus many Chinese have
questionable immigration status. American authorities were
not oblivious to this and for years they have used this as a
weapon to crack down on politically active Chinese. Thus the
threat of deportation and prosecution on criminal charges was
always hanging over the heads of these political
non-conformists. For example, Xie Cang, one of the activists
in the Sanfanshi Zhongguo Xueshenghui, was deported.57
Even during the 1960's, deportation was still the favorite
weapon of the U.S. government against the Chinese left. As
late as 1965 an official of the Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance,
Louie Pon, was charged with fraudulent entry, and threatened
with deportation by the Justice Department. One of the
counts against him was that he was affiliated with the China
Daily News. 58 Another weapon often resorted to by the
authorities was to prosecute members of the left for
fraudulent entry, as was the fate of four members of Min-Qing
during the late 1950's and early 1960's.59 The effect of
actions such as these has generally been to cow the Chinese
population into silence, and to intimidate Chinese with
sympathies for the left.
For the most part of the first half of this century China
was convulsed in struggle as the Chinese people sought the
road to national rebirth while at the same time fighting for
national survival against Japanese aggression. Since most
members of the Chinese left in America at this time were
China-born, it was natural that they reacted strongly to events
across the Pacific, and concern for support of the Chinese
revolution and for resistance to Japanese aggression dominated
their activities. In this area they were able to render valuable
service by informing and educating the larger society as well as
the U.S. Chinese community.
The organizations of the left also were interested in
effecting certain domestic programs aiming toward change in
the community. In this regard they encountered obstacles
which were difficult to surmount. Successful implementation
of their programs of course ultimately rested upon the support
of the people within the Chinese community; however, since
the Chinese were but a small minority in this country, radical
change in the Chinese community could not be fully effected
independently of the situation in the larger society. The
anarchists of the 1920's were at first successful in bringing
some improvement to workers' conditions in the Chinese
community, but ultimately failed because the conservative
forces in the Chinese community were too strong for them to
tackle alone without some support from the larger society.
The Marxists of the late 1930's and 1940's were able to
achieve a somewhat greater degree of success because they
could draw upon the backing of friendly American progressive
forces. On the negative side, when the anti-communist hysteria
swept the larger society during the 1950's, the Chinese left in
America was among its victims.
The popular organizations formed by Marxists in alliance
with liberals during the 1930's displayed some promise of
growth into strong organizations counter-acting the
conservative Chinatown establishment and providing
leadership for the forces desiring a change from the status quo,
for the groups were originally organized around popular
economic issues which had great appeal. However, after a
promising start, the coming of World War II curbed their
development as the American people were asked to make
sacrifices in order to win the war against Fascism. Other
objective factors such as wartime "prosperity," as well as the
factors previously mentioned, all worked to prevent the
Chinese left from maintaining and augmenting its popular base
in the community, thus hampering the carrying out and
expanding of any programs for change. After the hot war, the
cold war hysteria put the brakes on the resumption of such
activities. Thus even though the situation in Chinatown called
for drastic change, the KMT conservative merchant coalition,
in collaboration with U.S. governmental authorities, was able
to sustain an atmosphere discouraging any challenge to the
In view of their limited mass support, their continual
harassment and other handicaps, it is surprising that these
groups have been able to accomplish as much as they have.
They have for years brought idealism, zeal, and a sense of
direction into Chinatown's atmosphere of materialist
mediocrity and political apathy. They have been the vanguard
presenting new ideas and concepts and representative samples
of the new Chinese culture. They have been pioneers in
recognizing that the Chinese in America must work across
racial lines in order to achieve change. More than a decade has
elapsed since the last of the "old" left organizations of
Chinatown has faded into the past. Other groups representing
the "new" left have appeared in the Chinese community, their
ideologies varying from left-liberal to Marxist. Again in
conjunction with the larger society, much of the new
movement has taken off from the momentum generated by
the civil rights, Black power, and the Third World movements
of the 1960's, and was reinforced by identification with the
positive image generated by a victorious Revolutionary New
The ties between the "new" and "old" left groups are
few since the decade that elapsed between disappearance of
the one and appearance of the other was an effective divide.
However the "old" and the "new" left share common goals in
striving for a better community and a better world.
Three significant characteristics distinguish the "new"
left from the "old" left: First, the new activists are
predominantly native-born; their appearance represents a new
stage in the historical development of the Chinese community,
a stage in which the Chinese of America have completed the
transformation from sojourners to permanent residents.
Second, the "new" left consists largely of students,
professionals and intellectuals; so far few workers have
participated in the movement. Third, although the "new" left
organizations are still interested in the Chinese Revolution, the
movement exhibits much greater concern in community
problems such as housing, employment, racism, etc., and
participates to a greater extent in the politics of the larger
Today these groups still have only limited support in the
Chinese community and they are split into several factions.
Most of the Chinese in America are still barely affected by
their activities. However, the rise of these groups after 2
decades of total domination of the Chinese community by the
KMT, is a sign that the forces for change are again stirring.
Judging by their activities, a new stage has been reached in the
development of the Chinese left in America, and with proper
implementation of programs administering to the aspirations
of the people of the Chinese community, this "new" Chinese
left can grow to become a significant force. However, the full
story of this "new" Chinese left is outside the scope of this
essay and will have to be the subject of another paper.
1. An account of the introduction of the socialist doctrines into
China may be found in "The Triumph of Anarchism over Marxism,
1906-1907," by Martin Bernal in China in Revolution: The First Phase
1900-1913, edited by M.C. Wright (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1968), pp. 97-142.
The organs of the Chinese Empire Reform Association were the
first to introduce socialist writings to China. In 1903, the Guangzhi
Shuju (Broadening of Knowledge Book Co.), founded in Shanghai in
1902 by reformist Liang Qichao and his supporters, published three
surveys on socialism translated from the Japanese. That same year two
other books on socialism were issued by other publishers in Shanghai.
Also, from 1903 on many articles on socialism appeared in Xinmin
Congbao (New People's Miscellany) a Yokohoma periodical also
founded by Liang's supporters in 1902.
Sun Yat-sen and some members of the revolutionary Tongmenghui were also influenced by western socialism.
2. An account of the development of anarchism in China may be
found in The Chinese Anarchist Movement, by Robert A. Scalapino and
George T. Yu (Berkeley: Center for Chinese Studies, 1961).
3. One of the first to bring the anarchist doctrines to Chinese soil
was a student revolutionary, Liu Sifu, better known as Liu Shifu, a
native of Xiangshan (now Zhongshan) district in the Pearl River delta
near Canton. The relation of Liu Shifu to the anarchist movement
among the Chinese in America is not clear at present but it is worthy of
note that his native district of Xiangshan was the region of origin for
many Chinese in America. And certainly, at least in the San Francisco
Bay Area, Xiangshan (Zhongshan) people were prominent in the
anarchist movement. According to Wending, "The Biography of Mr.
Shifu," in The Collected Works of Sbifu (Shanghai, 1928), Liu Shifu
went to study in Japan in 1904. In the following year he took an active
role in the formation of the Tongmenghui in Tokyo. Liu left Japan in
1906 and for the next few years engaged in revolutionary activities in
the Hong Kong area. After the revolution he and his followers founded
the Huiming Xueshe (Society of Cocks Crowing in the Dark) in Canton
in 1912. The object was to propagate anarchism to the masses.
In 1913 reflecting his disgust at his former comrades of the
Tongmenghui who now seemed to be concerned only to advance their
personal interests, Liu helped to organize the Xin She (Heart Society)
which was intended to be a preliminary to a nation-wide anarchist
movement. However, Liu died in 1915 of tuberculosis. He was only 31
at the time.
4. Chinese strikes for better working conditions were not rare.
The first recorded instance occurred on June 8, 1852 when Chinese
construction labor working on the Parrott building in San Francisco
went on strike for more wages (Chinese Historical Society Bulletin, San
Francisco, Vol 2 No.5, May 1967). Other instances occurred among
the railroad workers, the most famous strike being the one on June
1867 when some 2,000 Chinese in the Sierra Nevadas walked off their
jobs on the construction site of the Central Pacific (Sacramento Union,
July 1, July 3, 1867).
Violence also accompanied some of the Chinese labor disputes.
For instance the San Francisco Call, Aug. 17, 1896 reported attempted
arson by members of the Garment Workers Guild against a factory
owner who was reluctant to come to terms with the guild.
5. Isabella Black, "American Labour and Chinese Immigration"
Past and Present, No. 25 (July 1963), pp. 59-76, quoting from The
International Socialist Review, Vol. 10 (1910), p. 1121.
6. Philip S. Foner, History of tbe Labor Movement in tbe U.S.
(New York: International Publishers, 1947), Vol. 4, p. 82.
7. A pamphlet, China and the Social Revolution, was published
by Kiang Kang·hu, care of the Chinese Socialist Club, 1045 Stockton
St., San Francisco, Calif. The preface of this pamphlet, written by
Kiang himself in California, was dated June 25, 1914. The club may
have been the Pingmin Shu-Baoshe formed by Kiang Kang-hu (See Feng
Ziyou Shebuizhuyi yu Zbongguo [Hong K9ng, 1920J).
8. Kung Sing, No.1 (Mar. 1, 1924) and No.2 (Apr. 1, 1924),
included a detailed account ot the history of the Workers League of
America up to 1924. The publication is the monthly magazine issued
by the WLA.
9. The 9 demands were as follows:
All but the 9th demand were eventually accepted by the factory
- The work day is to be limited to 9 hours.
- The employers are to guarantee that in the future wages are to
increase and not decrease.
- Time and a half is to be paid for work over 9 hours.
- Double time is to be paid for Sunday work.
- Paid time off is to be given for American holidays
- The employers are to pay medical bills for injuries incurred during
performance of work on the factory's premises.
- The term of apprenticeship shall be set at two months, during
which time the apprentice is to be allowed weekly expense money
- In case of a fire if a worker lives on the premises of his employer,
the employer shall recompense him $50.00 to pay for losses
- Workers not obeying the above regulations are subject to discharge
by the League.
10. Chung Sai Vat Po (San Francisco), April 14, 1928 gave an
account of a raid by San Francisco plain-clothes police officers on the
Ping Sheh, where two members were arrested for preaching anarchism.
This was typical of the general police attitude toward radical groups in
11. The Ping Sheh advertised free copies of various pamphlets in
Chung Sai Vat Po, Nov. 29, 1926. The first issue of Equality was
published July 1, 1927, according to an advertisement in Chung Sai Vat
Po, June 24, 1927.
12. The author possesses copies of leaflets issued by the Ping
Sheh in support of the Laundry Workers' strike of 1929 and the
garment workers' strike against the Chinatown factory of the National
Dollar Stores in 1938.
13. The first issue was published June 1, 1934. Communications
were to be addressed to Ray Jones' (Liu Zhongshi).
14. Ping Sheh, May Day Special Issue, May I, 1927.
15. Wuzhengfu Gongchan Yuekan combined Nos. 5,6 (Oct., Nov.
16. William Z. Foster, Outline Political History of the Americas
(New York: International Publishers, 1951), pp. 391-2.
17. Chung Sai Vat Po, Dec. 4,1919.
18. Interview with former member of the San Francisco Chinese
20. Minutes of the Second Convention ofthe Kuomintang in San
Francisco (Zhongguo Guomindang Zhu Sanfanshi Zongzhibu Di'erci
Daibiao Dahui Shimoji), 1928, p. 163. The Xianfeng (Vanguard) may
have been the precurser of the publication of the same name published
in Philadelphia in 1930.
21. See Note 18.
22. Leong Gor Yun, Chinatown Inside Out (New York: Barrows,
1936),pp. 143, 154, 156.
23. Interview with former worker at the China Daily News (New
24. Chung Sai Vat Po, Apr. 8, 13, 1927.
25. See Note 18.
26. Chung Sai Vat Po, Jan 14, 28, 30, 1929.
27. Philip Taft, Labor Politics A merican Style, The California
State Federation of Labor (Cambridge: . Harvard Univ. Press, 1968), p.
175, quoting from the Proceedings of the 34th Annual Convention of
the California Federation ofLabor, 1929, p. 29.
28, Chung Sai Vat Po, 1925, June 10, 11; July 1, 6,10,13,15,
16,20,22,24; August 17, 1930. The occasion was the celebrated "May
30th Incident" in Shanghai.
29. The Chinese Six Companies or the Chinese Consolidated
Benevolent Association of the U.S.A. is the organization claiming to be
the spokesman for all the Chinese in America. It is at the apex of the
pyramid formed by Chinese organizations in the community and is
formed by the seven major district associations in San Francisco: Ning
Yung, Sam Yup, Kong Chow, YoungWo, Shew Hing, Hop Wo and Yan
30. Interview with former member of CWMAA.
31. See Note 30.
32. L.W. Casaday, Labor Unrest and the Labor Movement in the
Salmon Industry of the Pacific Coast (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Univ.
of Calif. Berkeley), pp. 387-97. Also see "Yushiye Jianshi" ("Alaska
Cannery Workers"), Getting Together (Tuanjie Bao), (San Francisco),
Mar. 18-21, 1972.
In the Chinese contract system the cannery owner makes
agreement with contractors to can the salmon at certain fixed price per
case during the canning season. The contractor then hires the workers.
During the 19th Century practically all the labor at the canneries were
Chinese. Later Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Mexicans, etc. were hired.
Under this system, the workers were under the control of the
contractors. They were frequently provided poor food, charged
exorbitant prices for goods, and provided inadequate and unsanitary
quarters. Thus it became one of the most hated features of cannery
33. Interview with Willie Fong, one of the founders of the
CWMAA. Two Chinese most active in the founding were Willie Fong
and Sam Young.
34. Jianfu, "Shi'ernianlai di Gongzuo Guocheng ji Jinhou di
Renwu" ("A Review of Work of the Past 12 Years and the Task for
Now and the Future"), China Weekly, Oct. 8, 1949. Lin Jianfu (Happy
Lin) was secretary of the CWMAA, also one of the founders of the
35. See Note 32.
36. Leong Gor Yun, Op. Cit. Chapter 5 gives a good account of
the early history of the Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance.
37. The Chinese Benevolent Association or Zhonghua Gongso of
New York City is an organization similar to the Chinese Six Companies
(See Note 30), and claims to speak for the Chinese in New York City.
38. Virginia Heyer, Patterns of Social Organization in New York
City's Chinatown (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Columbia University),
39. Liu Boqi, "Meiguo Huaqiao Baoye Fanzhanshilue" ("Brief
History of the Development of Newspapers of the Chinese in America")
in Wenyi Fuxing Yuekan (Literary Renaissance Monthly) (Taiwan) No.
19, pp. 49-56. Also verified by verbal information from former worker
at China Daily News.
40. For example there were meeting announcements in the Chung
Sai Yat Po, Mar. 4,12,1938, May 15, 22, 1938, etc.
41. During the Sino-Japanese War the Communist New 4th Army
was operating in the lower Yangtze Valley near Shanghai. The
Nationalists felt it to be a threat to what they considered to be their
territory, even though at that time it was held by the Japanese. In 1940
the KMT government ordered the New 4th Army to withdraw north of
the Yangtze. While the army was withdrawing, protesting to the KMT
government, in the meanwhile the Nationalists attacked the New 4th
Army Headquarters Unit and accompanying rear guard and inflicted
several thousand casualties.
Many overseas Chinese protested this action, pointing out that
the most important task should be to unite to fight the common
42. The Chinese Youth (Huaqiao Qingnian), published by ,he
Chinese Youth Club, N.Y.C. Special Issue, No.3 (Oct. 1940) pp. 7-11.
43. Interview with former member of the NCALSS.
44. Ni Haishu, Zhongguo Pinyinwenziyundong Shi Jianbian
(Shanghai, 1948), Chapter 6.
45. Chen Qiao, "Guanyu Yatgo Gaoyuk Daijong Muntai ge
Hinyi" ("On a Proposal with Regards to the Problem of mass
Education") in 25th Anniversary Commemorative Album of the Mun
LunSchool, Honolulu (1936).
46. Yuwen Yanjiu (Ymen Ingau) (Lauguage Study) published by
the New Chinese Alphabetized Language Study Society (Apr. 1942).
47. See Note 46.
48. Rucong, "Xiaoxiao Shinian" ("A Brief History of 10 Years")
in Min-Qing Tuanbao, New Series No. I, (Dec. I, 1949). This is a
mimeographed publication issued biweekly by the Chinese-American
Democratic Youth League. The development and activities during the
period 1940 to 1949 is covered in this article. Zhu Rucong (James
Young) was one of the founders of the NCALSS.
49. The publications were:
- New Democracy, by Mao Tse-tung
- The Truth about the Liberated Areas, by Dong Biwu
- On Coalition Government, by Mao Tse-tung
- Critique of "China's Destiny, " by Chen Boda
50. See Note 33.
51. The aims of the CADYL as stated in its constitution were as
52. James E. Sheridan, Chinese Warlord, The Career of Feng
Yu-hsiang (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1966), pp. 279-280. Also,
Feng Yuxiang Jiangjun Ji'niance (Album in Memory of Gen. Feng
Yuxiang) (Hong Kong: 1948), pp. 114-115.
- To unite Chinese and American youths to study and work together
for the interest of young people.
- In cooperation with all Chinese here and abroad to fight for the
establishment of a free, peace-loving, democratic, united,
independ.ent, wealthy and strong new China.
- In cooperation with Chinese and non-Chinese liberals and
progressives to work toward freedom and equality for all mankind
and world peace.
- In cooperation with other progressive organizations, to undertake
educational programs, protect the public interest, and establish a
democratic way of life.
- Through collective strength, to advocate ways of serving society, to
strengthen the membership's belief in service to society, and to
increase the usefulness of the membership in serving society.
53. LiuMei Xuesheng Tongxin, Nov. 26, 1949; Jan 21, Feb. 4,
54. San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 10, 1949.
55. China Daily News, editorial July 4, 1970.
56. Heyer, op. cited, p. 94.
57. See Note 18.
58. Annual Report of the Immigration and Naturalization
Service, 1965, p. 11.
59. These were the cases of Jackson Chan, Maurice Chuck, Kai
Dere and Wing Joe.
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