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Sovereignty, International Law, and the Uneven Development of the International Refugee Regime*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 November 2014

Department of History, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada Email:


When we think about the history of the international refugee regime, why is it that—with a few carefully delineated exceptions—there were no non-European ‘refugees’ until the 1950s? This article offers a critical examination of existing scholarship on the history of the international refugee regime and suggests some alternative pathways for future research. The article has three broad objectives. The first is to propose an outline for an alternative history of the international refugee regime, one in which the non-European and colonial worlds are not invisible or peripheral but rather central to the main narrative. The second is to ask what place Chinese migrants might occupy in such an alternative history of human displacement, stretching over the course of the twentieth century. Finally, this article tries to show that the period from 1945 to the early 1960s was an especially critical one in the history of the international refugee regime, one in which refugee movements both out of and into the People's Republic of China were critical in generating the kinds of tensions and contradictions that emerged when the international refugee regime was transposed from Europe onto colonial and post-colonial Asia.

Chinese Refugees Forum
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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The author wishes to thank Antony Anghie, John Conway, participants in the international workshop on ‘Global Displacements and Emplacement: The Forced Exile and Resettlement Experiences of Chinese Refugees’ held at the National University of Singapore in October 2012, and an anonymous reader for their helpful comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this article. Research for this article was made possible by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Standard Research Grant and a UBC Hampton Fund Research Grant.


1 The exceptions included displaced Turks, Armenians, and Assyrians within the League of Nations mandated territories that had belonged to the former Ottoman empire, as well as a small number of ‘Overseas Chinese’ at the end of the Second World War (the latter are discussed below). In the 1950s, two important non-European ‘test’ cases arose: Chinese refugees from the People's Republic of China in Hong Kong, who were the focus of a UNHCR investigation in 1954 (also discussed below), and Algerian refugees in Tunisia. The Algerian war of independence against French rule lasted eight years from 1954 to 1962. In 1957 the Tunisian government requested and received UNHCR assistance for Algerian refugees who had crossed the border into Tunisia. The Algerian crisis has been identified by some as a turning point that marked ‘the beginning of a reorientation of the international system of refugee aid toward a global rather than Eurocentric approach’. Ruthstrom-Ruin, C. (1993). Beyond Europe: The Globalization of Refugee Aid, Lund University Press, Lund, p. 13Google Scholar. In both of these ‘test’ cases, however, the question of the refugees’ status in international law was carefully sidestepped.

2 Nevzat Soguk defines an international ‘regime’ as a set of ‘legal and institutional arrangements and mechanisms of collaboration—cooperation and coordination—among actors’. Soguk, N. (1999). States and Strangers: Refugees and Displacements of Statecraft, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis and London, p. 108Google Scholar. Similarly, Brook and Wakabayashi define a regime as ‘a system in which an authority declares its right to control certain practices, and develop policies and mechanisms to exercise that right within its presumed domain’. Brook, T. and Wakabayashi, B. (2000). ‘Introduction: Opium's History in China’ in Brook, T. and Wakabayashi, B.Opium Regimes: China, Britain and Japan, 1839–1952, University of California Press, Berkeley, p. 4Google Scholar.

3 Haddad, E. (2003). The Individual Between Sovereigns, Global Society, 17:3, p. 297CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Haddad, E. (2008). The Refugee in International Society: Between Sovereigns, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 12, 24Google Scholar.

4 One important approach has been to analyse the processes and conceptual tools for the bureaucratic labelling of refugees. See Zetter, R. (1991). Labelling Refugees: Forming and Transforming a Bureaucratic Identity, Journal of Refugee Studies, 4:1, pp. 3962CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Zetter describes how the contemporary bureaucratic labelling of certain migrants as refugees rests on the construction of stereotyped identities, which in turn are linked to assumed needs (material as well as psychological) and—crucially—access to resources, including future life chances. As a result, the refugee label has acquired powerful material as well as symbolic meanings. Moreover, as the number of the forcibly displaced continues to grow, the same bureaucratic calculation produces increasingly complex calibrations of refugee identity, as ‘different categories of refugee (are) deemed necessary [in order] to prioritize need’. On the latter point, see Zetter, R. (2007). More Labels, Fewer Refugees: Remaking The Refugee Label in the Era of Globalization, Journal of Refugee Studies, 20:2, pp. 172192CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 Mazower, M. (2009). No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations, Princeton University Press, PrincetonCrossRefGoogle Scholar.

6 Nanfang ribao (南方日报), 26 June 1952; 8 September 1952; (1950). Beizhu fanguo de Malaiya huaqiao kongsu yingdi baoxing (被逐返国的马来亚华侨控诉英帝暴行) (Malayan Overseas Chinese deported to China denounce British colonial atrocities), Xinhua yuebao (新华月报) 3:4, p. 311. Although there is no independent verification of the atrocities alleged by those at the rally, the use of torture by both sides during the Emergency is widely accepted. Some evidence suggests that colonial troops followed a deliberate strategy of terrorizing civilian populations, especially during the early stages of the campaign. See Bennett, H. (2009). ‘A Very Salutary Effect’: The Counter-Terror Strategy in the Early Malayan Emergency, June 1948–December 1949, Journal of Strategic Studies, 32:3, pp. 415444CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Recently a British newspaper reported newly uncovered evidence that the British government hurriedly passed regulations authorizing the use of ‘lethal force’ just weeks after British troops massacred 24 villagers in a remote rubber estate at Sungai Rimoh in Batang Kali on 12 December 1948. Brian Ferguson (2012). Secret Law to ‘Protect’ Scots Guards Killers in Malaysia Uncovered:, [accessed 12 September 2014].

7 This was the first of several occasions on which the Republic of China's ambassador raised the question of Chinese refugees before the General Assembly. A United States State Department official, reporting on the ambassador's remarks, noted the ‘paradox of the UN's taking care of white refugees but ignoring the Chinese’. Johnson to Bacon, 11 December 1952, US National Archives, RG 59, State Department, Office of Chinese Affairs, numerical file 1949–55, lot file 57d 633, box 34, file 350.4. In the early 1950s there were upwards of 20,000 European refugees remaining in China, most of whom were White Russians and Jews who had fled Europe during the war, compared to almost 700,000 Chinese refugees in Hong Kong, according to UN estimates.

8 Mark, C. (2007). The ‘Problem of People’: British Colonials, Cold War Powers, and the Chinese Refugees in Hong Kong, 1949–62, Modern Asian Studies, 41:6, pp. 1145–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Peterson, G. (2008). To Be or Not to Be a Refugee: The International Politics of the Hong Kong Refugee Crisis, 1949–55, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, xxxvi:2, pp. 171195CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9 As Loescher explains, ‘the adoption of persecution of the main characteristic of a refugee was made to fit a Western interpretation of asylum-seekers. The Western states who were chiefly responsible for the persecution-centred definition perceived refugees to be victims of oppressive, totalitarian, and specifically Communist regimes.’ Loescher, G. (2001). The UNHCR and World Politics: A Perilous Path, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p. 44CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also Loescher, G. and Scanlan, J. (1986). Calculated Kindness: Refugees and America's Half-Open Door, 1945–Present, The Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar.

10 Peterson, G. (2012). Overseas Chinese in the People's Republic of China, Routledge, New York and LondonGoogle Scholar.

11 Hambro, E. (1955). The Problem of Chinese Refugees in Hong Kong: Report Submitted to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, A. J. Sijthoff, Leiden, p. 127Google Scholar.

12 Scholars have recently begun to explore the connections between colonialism and the Cold War. See especially Westad, O. (2007). The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times, Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar. Westad describes the Cold War in the global south as representing, in one sense, ‘a continuation of European colonial interventions and of European attempts at controlling Third World peoples’ (p. 5), only recast in the language of ‘development’ and ‘modernization’.

13 The classic work in this regard is Holborn, L. (1975). Refugees: A Problem of Our Time: The Work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1951–1972, two vols, The Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, New JerseyGoogle Scholar.

14, [accessed 4 September 2014].

15 Goodwin, D. (2010). Citizens of Nowhere: From Refugee Camp to Canadian Campus, Anchor Canada, TorontoGoogle Scholar.

16 Soguk, States and Strangers.

17 Mazower, M. (1998). Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century, Vintage Books, New York, p. 42Google Scholar.

18 Mazower, Dark Continent, pp. 51–64.

19 Soguk, States and Strangers, pp. 102, 107, 111, 117–118.

20 Craft, S. (2004). V.K. Wellington Koo and the Emergence of Modern China, University Press of Kentucky, LexingtonGoogle Scholar. Koo, an important but understudied figure, was the driving force behind efforts undertaken to restore sovereignty and raise China's status in the international system between 1919, when Koo was among China's delegates to the Paris Peace Conference, and 1945 when Koo served as China's representative at the founding of the UN.

21 Mitter, R. (2013). UNRRA in China, 1944–71, Past and Present, Supplement 8, pp. 51–69.

22 See, for example, Soguk, States and Strangers, pp. 67–100. Existing studies on the globalization of the international refugee regime after 1945 tend to follow essentially the same narrative trajectory. See, for example, Gallagher, D. (1989). The Evolution of the International Refugee System, International Migration Review, 23:3, pp. 579598CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed, and Ruthstrom-Ruin, The Globalization of Refugee Aid, pp. 15–22.

23 Wolf, E. (1982). Europe and the People without History, University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar.

24 The seeds of modern international law are often regarded as being sown by the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, in which major European states agreed to respect the principle of state sovereignty and territorial integrity, ending the imposition of supranational forms of authority on European states and preparing the way for the rise of nationalism and the nation-state system. But without a supranational authority and with all sovereigns equal and exercising absolute power within the boundaries of their own territories, how would it be possible to create order among them and prevent war? International law is conventionally held to have developed in response to this challenge.

25 Anghie, A. (2005). Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 6CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

26 Anghie, building on the work of previous scholars, traces the origins of international law not to the Treaty of Westphalia but to the writings of the sixteenth-century theologian and jurist, Francisco de Vitoria, who was concerned with codifying relations between Spanish conquerors and Indians. Anghie, Imperialism, pp. 28–31.

27 Anghie, Imperialism, pp. 3, 29–30.

28 Benton, L. (2010). A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400–1900, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 56Google Scholar.

29 Benton, A Search for Sovereignty, pp. 2–3, 6–7, 10–23. Benton borrows the concept of ‘anomalous legal zones’ from Neuman, G. (1996). Anomalous Zones, Stanford Law Review, 48:5, pp. 11971234CrossRefGoogle Scholar, but the uses the concept more broadly to denote areas within empires that exhibit a range of legal variation which is often a result of accumulated processes of legal pluralism and hybridization rather than the deliberate suspension of established legal norms.

30 Benton, L. (2002). Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar; see also Benton, A Search for Sovereignty, p. 24. In British India, for example, by 1781 the principle was established that exceptions to the application of English law could be made in matters of ‘religion, manners and custom’. Dutch colonial law in the Dutch East Indies was unique in assigning separate legal regimes to colonial subjects on the basis of race—a practice that would have significant consequences for Indonesia's Chinese minority in the post-colonial era with regard to issues of citizenship and statelessness.

31 On the Shanghai Mixed Court, see Hammond, K. (2007). ‘The Shanghai Mixed Court, 1863–1880: Colonial Institution Building and the Creation of Legal Knowledge as a Source of Interaction and Mediation between the Chinese and the British’, MA thesis, Simon Fraser University. On legal pluralism in the New Territories of Hong Kong, see Hayes, J. (2012). The Great Difference: Hong Kong's New Territories and its Peoples, 1898–2004, Hong Kong University Press, Hong KongGoogle Scholar. On extra-territoriality in China, see Cassel, P. (2011). Grounds of Judgment: Extraterritoriality and Imperial Power in Nineteenth Century China and Japan, Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar.

32 Cassel argues that the Shanghai Mixed Court was based upon the direct borrowing and creative adaptation of long-standing ‘Sino-Manchu legal concepts and institutions’. Cassel, P. (2003). Excavating Extraterritoriality: the Judicial ‘Sub-Prefect’ as a Prototype for the Mixed Court in Shanghai, Late Imperial China, 24:2, pp. 156182CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On the tributary system, see Kang, D. (2010). East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute, Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar; and Onuma, Y. (2000). When was the Law of International Society Born? An Inquiry of the History of International Law from an Intercivilizational Perspective, Journal of the History of International Law, 2, pp. 166CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

33 Benton, Law and Colonial Cultures, p. 254.

34 Benton, Law and Colonial Cultures, p. 264.

35 Mazower, M. (2013). Governing the World: The History of an Idea, 1815 to the Present, Penguin, New York, Chapter 3Google Scholar.

36 Gong, G. (1984). The ‘Standard of Civilization’ in International Society, Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar.

37 McKeown, A. (2008). Melancholy Order: Asian Migration and the Globalization of Borders, Columbia University Press, New York, p. 155Google Scholar.

38 Anghie, Imperialism, pp. 48, 52, 54–55. The quote from Wheaton appears on p. 54.

39 Anghie, Imperialism, pp. 30, 37. The notion of ‘civilized’ and ‘uncivilized’ states was ubiquitous in discussions of international law and international relations throughout the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries, including the official writings of the League of Nations itself, which incorporated the concept into its founding covenant. The discourse disappeared abruptly around 1950 when it was replaced by the emerging vocabulary of ‘development’ and ‘modernization’.

40 Anghie, Imperialism, p. 58. On British efforts to instruct China on the ‘standards of civilization’, see Hevia, J. (2003). English Lessons: The Pedagogy of Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century China, Duke University Press, DurhamCrossRefGoogle Scholar. China was far from a passive recipient of these efforts, however. Chinese nationalist elites enthusiastically embraced the civilizing mission and deployed its logic as a means of remaking society in order to resist further colonial intrusion. See Lam, T. (2010). Policing the Imperial Nation: Sovereignty, International Law, and the Civilizing Mission in Late Qing China, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 52:4, pp. 881908CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Rogaksi, R. (2004). Hygienic Modernity: Meanings of Health and Disease in Treaty-Port China, University of California Press, Berkeley, p. 11Google Scholar.

41 Anghie defines the ‘dynamic of difference’ as the ‘endless process of creating a gap between two cultures, demarcating one as “universal” and civilized and the other as “particular” and uncivilized, and seeking to bridge the gap by developing techniques to normalize the aberrant society’. Anghie, Imperialism, p. 4. Thus, Western universalism and racial particularism were not separate discourses; rather, they were mutually constitutive parts of the same discourse.

42 Anghie, Imperialism, p. 4

43 Scholars have recently begun documenting such events in order to make them more visible to historians. See, for example, Moses, A. (2009). Empire, Colony, Genocide: Conquest, Occupation, and Subaltern Resistance in World History, University of British Columbia Press, VancouverGoogle Scholar; and Cott, R. (2011). Britain's Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt, Verso, LondonGoogle Scholar.

44 For instance, Qiu Hanping (丘汉平). (1934). Meiguo paihualu zhi guoqu ji xianzai (美国排华侓之过去及现在) (The past and present reality of U.S. anti-Chinese exclusion laws), Dongfang zazhi (东方杂志), 31:12, pp. 61–72; Moxige paichi huaqiao (墨西哥排斥华侨) (Mexico expels Overseas Chinese), Dongfang zazhi (东方杂志), 30:11 (1933), pp. 2–3.

45 McKeown, Melancholy Order.

46 McKeown, Melancholy Order, pp. 8–9.

47 Race-based immigration policies aimed at Chinese and other Asians were not fully repealed until 1962 in Canada; 1965 in the United States; 1966 in Australia; and 1987 in New Zealand.

48 Northrup, D. (1995). Indentured Labour in the Age of Imperialism, Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar.

49 Mukerjee, R. (1936). Migrant Asia: A Problem in World Population with an Introduction by Corrado Gini, Italian Committee for the Study of Population Problems, Rome.

50 Mukerjee, Asian Migrations, pp. 9–10, 15, 37.

51 Bashford, A. (2007). Nation, Empire, Globe: The Spaces of Population Debate in the Interwar Years, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 49:1, p. 184CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

52 Thus, for example, delegates to the 1927 World Population Conference in Geneva, where many of these ideas were first aired, called for an end to race-based immigration restrictions in the white settler colonies, on the grounds that such restrictions interfered with the ‘natural’ movement of people from high- to low-density parts of the globe. It may be noted that the Italian population theorist, Corrado Gini, who wrote the introduction to Mukerjee's proposal for an international migratory code to regulate Asian migration described above, was also a leading delegate to the 1927 Conference. Similarly, the League's International Labour Office sought to end forced labour by means of international conventions. On the World Population Conference, see Bashford, Nation, pp. 170–201. On the International Labour Office's efforts to end forced migration, see Maul, D. (2007). The International Labour Organization and the Struggle Against Forced Labour from 1919 to the Present, Labour History, 48:4, pp. 477500CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

53 Cohen, D. (2012). In War's Wake: Europe's Displaced Persons in the Postwar Order, Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar, especially Chapter 5, ‘Surplus Manpower, Surplus Population’.

54 Reinisch, J. (2013). ‘Auntie UNRRA’ at the Crossroads, Past and Present, Supplement 8, pp. 70–97. See also Woodbridge, G. (1950). UNRRA: The History of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar.

55 Mackinnon, S. (2008). Wuhan 1938: War, Refugees, and the Making of Modern China, University of California Press, Berkeley, pp. 4548Google Scholar. See also Mackinnon, S. (2001). ‘Refugee Flight at the Outset of the Anti-Japanese War’ in Lary, D. and Mackinnon, S.Scars of War: The Impact of Warfare on Modern China, University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, pp. 118134Google Scholar; and Schoppa, R.In a Sea of Bitterness: Refugees During the Sino-Japanese War, Harvard University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar.

56 Mitter, UNRRA in China, pp. 51–69. See also UNRRA in China, 1945–47 (1948),Vol. 53 of UNRRA Operational Analysis Papers, UNNRA. The activities of the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in China were mainly concerned with economic resuscitation and public health and sanitation rather then refugee relief per se.

57 According to Vernant, ‘the persons known to UNRRA . . . as “Overseas Chinese”’ consisted of Chinese nationals whose homes were in Malaya, Singapore, British Borneo, Thailand, French Indo-China, Burma, and the Philippines who had ‘moved’ or ‘fled’ during the war ‘into China proper’. Estimated at around 26,000 (of whom around 20,000 were said to be from Burma and the Philippines), Vernant described them as ‘mostly labourers and small traders’ who found themselves living in poverty after the war ended, and claimed that ‘both they and the Chinese Government were anxious for their return home’. Vernant, J. (1953). The Refugee in the Post-War World, George Allen and Unwin Ltd., London, pp. 9899Google Scholar.

58 Holborn, L. (1956). The International Refugee Organization, A Specialized Agency of the United Nations: Its History and Work, 1946–1952, Oxford University Press, London, pp. 144, 421Google Scholar. In addition to ‘Overseas Chinese’, the International Refugee Organization was also concerned with the repatriation of two other refugee populations in China: European Jews who had fled to China during the war, and pre-war Russian exiles (‘White Russians’).

59 Holborn, The International Refugee Organization, pp. 186–187, 359–360.

60 Vernant, The Refugee, p. 99.

61 In 1948 the Burmese government introduced occupational restrictions that effectively excluded some 3,000 ethnic Chinese who were scheduled for repatriation by the International Refugee Organization; in the Philippines, no ethnic Chinese who were resident in the country before the war were permitted to re-enter under the auspices of the International Refugee Organization. Holborn, The International Refugee Organization, p 360; also Vernant, The Refugee, p. 99.

62 Yong, C. and McKenna, R. (1990). The Kuomintang Movement in British Malaya, 1912–1949, Singapore University Press, Singapore, pp. 5658Google Scholar. I thank Michael Godley for bringing this source to my attention.

63 Nanfang ribao (南方日报), 18 June 1952; 26 June 1952.

64 I am indebted to conversations with Antony Anghie for the ideas expressed in this paragraph.

65 The League of Nations was responsible for several initiatives that were intended to limit and regulate the worst abuses of colonial authority over ‘native’ populations, most notably with respect to the use of forced and indentured labour and reliance upon opium consumption as a main source of colonial revenue.

66 Starting in 1954, the People's Republic of China government officially encouraged ethnic Chinese who were settled abroad to adopt the citizenship of and identify with their countries of residence.

67 In the Malay world, for example, kingship was based not on the control of territory but the ability to command loyalty. Moreover, relations among rulers in pre-colonial eastern and southeastern Asia were based not upon equality of status but by what one scholar has called a ‘fluid hierarchy of authority and reputation’ reflected in institutions of tribute and ceremonial submission. Borschberg, P. (2011). Hugo Grotius, the Portuguese and Free Trade in the East Indies, National University of Singapore Press, Singapore, pp. 154155Google Scholar; also Onuma, When was the Law of International Society Born?

68 Jianzheng congshu bianweihui (见证丛书编委会) (ed.) (2006). Cong zhanchang dao chachang (从战场到茶场) (From battlefield to tea plantation) Jianzheng congshu disanji (见证丛书第三辑), Xianggang jianzheng chubanshe, Hong Kong. Chen Yufeng (陈宇锋) and Xue Yuanyan (雪远炎) (eds) (2010). Hainan Xinglong huaqiao nongchang jianshi (海南兴隆华侨农场简史) (A brief history of Hainan's Xinglong Overseas Chinese state farm), Zuyin chubanshe, Hong Kong. See also the article by Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho in this Forum.

69 The primary legal consideration in determining whether or not the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong fell within the UNHCR mandate revolved around the ‘duality’ of Chinese governments and whether the refugees could, in theory, avail themselves of the protection of the Republic of China government on Taiwan, which the UN and most other countries at the time regarded as the sole legitimate government of China. For a fuller discussion of this and other issues bearing on the legal status of the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong, see Peterson, To Be or Not to Be, pp. 173–175.

70 Hambro, The Problem, pp. 85, 195.

71 Hambro, The Problem, pp. 85, 195.

72 Hambro, The Problem, p. 128.

73 Mukerjee, Asian Migrations, pp. 9–10, 15, 37.

74 Wong, D. (2003). ‘The Search for Modernity: The Chinese in Sabah and English Education’ in Yeoh, B. and Kiong, T.Chinese Migrants Abroad: Cultural, Educational and Spatial Dimensions, Singapore University Press, Singapore, p. 146Google Scholar; Rutter, O. (1922). British North Borneo: An Account of its History, Resources and Native Tribes, Constable, LondonGoogle Scholar. The proposal to resettle Chinese refugees in North Borneo was first made by Father Ryan, a Jesuit priest who had lived in South China and Hong Kong for several decades. Ryan made the proposal in October 1952 in the Hong Kong current affairs magazine Outlook, which was subsequently brought to the attention of the UNHCR deputy commissioner, James Read, when he visited Hong Kong in 1952, ironically for the purpose of investigating the plight of European refugees from China in Hong Kong. See James Read, ‘Report to the High Commissioner on Trip to Southeast Asia’, n.d. Colonial Office (hereafter CO) 1023 117 1952/54. On Ryan, see Morrissey, T. (2010). Thomas F. Ryan SJ: From Cork to China and Windsor Castle 1889–1971, Columbia Press, Hong KongGoogle Scholar.

75 Secretary of State for Colonies to North Borneo Governor Turnbull, 12 June 1954, CO 1030/381.

76 Between April 1952 and March 1954 a total of 3,152 Chinese refugees in Hong Kong were resettled in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Africa on labour contracts. Hambro, The Problem, pp. 85, 195.

77 Secretary of State for Colonies to Hong Kong government 14 July 1960, CO 1316. See also British Charge d’Affaires, Shanghai to UN Relief Organization, Hong Kong, 6 May 1960, CO 1316. In addition to sending several hundred thousand Chinese refugees to British Honduras, Downie's plan also included some 300 Russian refugees who, at the time, were stranded in China's Xinjiang region. On the history of Chinese indentured labour in the Caribbean, see Lai, W. (1993). Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar: Chinese and Indian Migration to the British West Indies, 1838–1919, Johns Hopkins University, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar.

78 (1962). Refugee Problem in Hong Kong: Report of a Special Subcommittee of the Committee of the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, pp. 8–9, 29–30.

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