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Image Anti-Chinese cover on Queensland Figaro and Punch, 1888

TLF ID R8177

This cartoon appeared on the cover of the weekly Queensland Figaro and Punch on 14 July 1888 and depicts a stereotypical image of a grotesque Chinese man with gaping mouth, protruding teeth and a pug nose, about to be kicked by a tall strapping Australian bushman. The cartoon is titled 'THAT PEKIN EDICT' and has two captions. In the first the cowering man, called 'John Chinaman', threatens the bushman with being eaten by his countrymen. The second refers to a fictitious edict supposedly indicating the Chinese were planning to conquer Australia.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This racist cartoon aims to foster fear and loathing of the Chinese community through the interplay of drawing, title and captions. The title and both captions encourage fear by suggesting that all Chinese people in Australia would return home within three years, at which time the invasion of Australia would begin. The way the man is drawn and the insinuation in the first caption that the Chinese ate dogs are meant to incite loathing.
  • The cartoon uses extreme racist stereotyping to depict differences between the Chinese man and the Australian bushman, largely to reinforce the belief, widely held at the time, that the white race was superior to all others. The Chinese man, labelled 'John Chinaman' in the caption, is drawn as an example of a degraded race - small, crouching, with 'strange' clothes and hair and grotesque features; the bushman is drawn as tall and upright with the 'right' clothes and hair.
  • This newspaper edition appeared in the second half of the 19th century, a period of widespread anti-Chinese hostility, when more than 100,000 Chinese labourers and gold miners arrived in Australia. Many stayed only a few years, while others remained to take up what became seen as 'Chinese jobs': market gardeners, servants, furniture makers and cooks. They were tolerated while such labour was needed, but forced out as jobs later became scarcer.
  • The cartoon resonated with commonly held beliefs at the time that the Chinese spread diseases, smoked opium, corrupted white women and worked for cut rates. Because they normally lived and worked in very separate, quiet communities, there was little opportunity for Europeans to become familiar with Chinese culture. This ignorance, combined with fear of their numbers and envy of their success, developed into the antagonism displayed in the cartoon.
  • While the Queensland Figaro and Punch newspaper had a history of such content, racist cartoons of this type were widely accepted and were not confined to one newspaper or even to one colony. The Bulletin newspaper in Sydney was at the forefront of the strident anti-Chinese campaign of the time and frequently published similar cartoons. The most famous example was 'The Mongolian octopus and its grip on Australia' published less than two years before this one.
  • Such hostility against Chinese people, many of whom had sought and been granted British citizenship, met with a legislative response first in the colonies and then when Australia became a nation. Qld passed legislation restricting Chinese immigration and access to the gold fields. As a consequence its Chinese population fell from 11,229 in 1881 to 7,637 by 1901. The new federal government's Immigration Restriction Act continued this 'White Australia' process.
Year level

4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9

Learning area
  • History

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: State Library of Queensland
  • Organization: State Library of Queensland
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: QLD, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: State Library of Queensland
  • Organization: State Library of Queensland
  • Address: QLD, AUSTRALIA
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and State Library of Queensland, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements