We the Eurasians

In the West we are the offspring of Chinese fathers and Western mothers. In Asia we are the children of Western fathers and Chinese mothers.

Eurasians in the West – how we came to be

Until the early years of the twentieth century the Chinese Government took precautions to prevent the emigration of Chinese women. This meant that wherever Chinese men emigrated, they had to marry local women. The Liverpool situation was not, in that sense, by any means unusual. We are quite normal.

Eurasians in Asia- our ‘cousins’ over there

From the 1840s onwards, it was normal practice for white traders and others in China to take Chinese concubines and mistresses.

Whilst Chinese men in Britain faced restrictions imposed by their own Government, the situation for white men in China was different. Only the wealthy could afford to keep a Western wife. Even then there was the likelihood of her dying young.

In Hong Kong, the shortage of ‘respectable’ white women led a considerable number of police and others of the working class there living with or marrying with local women. This led to the establishment of what was almost a separate Eurasian community in the colony.

We are westerners in the West – Asians in Asia

In China no respectable Chinese family would have consented to a daughter becoming the wife, let alone the concubine, of a Westerner – a ‘foreign devil’. This inevitably meant that the women with whom these ‘foreign devils’ lived were usually of the lower social classes. In Hong Kong the early relationships were between Westerners and women of the Tanka or fisher folk. That is, people who were not part of ‘normal’ Chinese society.

In Britain Chinese men generally married working class girls, like our mothers.

Generally, we Eurasians took on the culture of our mothers. In the West we were and are Westerners. In the East we are Asians.

However, we were treated very differently by the two societies. Eurasians in Asia found themselves largely excluded from Chinese society. European society was more accepting. As far back as the early years of the twentieth century in our hometown the first of we Liverpool Eurasians began marrying into the white community.

Even in China from the last quarter of the nineteenth century onwards marriage between us Eurasians and Westerners was increasing.