By Rachel K. Bright (auth.)
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Extra info for Chinese Labour in South Africa, 1902–10: Race, Violence, and Global Spectacle
80 This was the ﬁrst time that the mines unanimously agreed to support labour importation from China as their preferred solution to the ‘labour problem’. This unanimity reﬂected a racialised economic view, which placed their faith in the myth of the Chinese ‘working machine’81 so beloved of industrialists around the world. 82 When H. Ross Skinner returned from the Far East in October 1903 and submitted his report to the Chamber of Mines, it was actually less favourable than many expected, highlighting both the positive and negative stereotypes associated with Chinese ‘coolies’ in California and the Far East.
Those for and against unskilled white labour were fundamentally arguing about how best to promote the racial supremacy of whites. Creswell and his supporters thought white labour superior to black and championed a labour unionism based exclusively on whiteness. Mine experiments were also based upon a highly racialised set of assumptions, as was the cancellation of the experiment. 47 J. P. 48 Milner was especially dismissive of using white unskilled labour, explaining, ‘[o]ur welfare depends upon increasing the quantity of our white population, but not at the expense of its quality.
By the twentieth century, ‘the South African countryside’ was ‘a land . . 6 This issue was of increasing concern to gold mines, the largest industry in southern Africa. While gold mining could be very proﬁtable, the initial investments required were substantial and returns slow to materialise. 8 Furthermore, the grade of ore to be found in the Rand was both difﬁcult and expensive to mine. After the war, the mines had to dig deeper and they could not put up the price of gold to cover increased costs, as the global price of gold was ﬁxed (in 1902–03 at 38 index points lower than before the war).