BETWEEN 1846 AND 1874, OVER 290,000 CHINESE were embarked as indentured labourers destined mainly for Peru, Cuba and the British, French and Dutch West Indies. Of these, 15.13% did not reach their destination.
The demand for labour was high. Among the poor, penniless and destitute of southern China, the search for remunerated work was also high. When demand outran the initial willing supply, trickery and misrepresentation, even kidnapping, came to be used in obtaining recruits. These were among the several factors contributing to onboard suicides, attempted insurrections and successful mutinies when captains and some crew were killed or tortured, ships set on fire and sometimes entirely destroyed. There were also occurrences when recruits signed on, intent on piracy, which was occasionally successful.
Authorities in the ports of departure introduced legislation to counter abuses. Receiving countries also introduced legislation related to imported labour.
Paperback; 464 pages
Size: 21 x 14cm