Legal history of Chinese Americans

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Chinese-Americans have been victims of racial discrimination. The Chinese Exclusion Act remained effective until 1943. In 2009, the California legislature passed a resolution to apologize for the historical anti-Chinese legislation. In 2011, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to apologize for the historical discrimination against Chinese immigrants.

There is no extradition treaty between China and the U.S. or Taiwan and the U.S. It means when a criminal act is committed in China or Taiwan, justice cannot be served if the criminal escapes to the U.S.

The Chinese-Americans are regarded as a “model minority.” They usually don’t assert their rights like blacks and other minorities. Even when they are being discriminated against in the work place, they remain quiet and do nothing. According to a study by the Equal Employment Opportunity Council in 2005, 31% of the Chinese-Americans complain of discrimination in the work place, compared to 26% among blacks, but few resort to filing lawsuits.[1]

Eighteenth Century[edit]

1785 The Beginning of the Chinese Americans[edit]

The beginning of Chinese people in the United States started when three Chinese seamen, by the "Pallas No." (PALLAS) ship, arrived in Baltimore, Maryland. They were abandoned by the captain and caught by the locals.[2]

Nineteenth Century[edit]

1839 First Opium War,Convention of Chuenpee (1841),Treaty of Nanking (1842) and the Treaty of the Bogue (1843)[edit]

Before the First Opium War, the Chinese Qing Qianlong Emperor believed his was the "heavenly nation", and needed nothing. He wrote a letter to Queen Victoria to say that China has everything and that there is no need to do business with the United Kingdom. At that time, Britain's trade deficit was huge; however, it stopped when Britain decided to sell opium to China. Since 1750, tens of thousands of boxes of opium entered China. This caused the Chinese addiction to opium, which ruined the Chinese and lured them to buy drugs, leading to the disintegration of their families.

1844 The Treaty of Wanghia, or the Treaty of Peace, Amity, and Commerce, with Tariff of Duties[edit]

1848 California Gold Rush[edit]

The discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill started the California Gold Rush. This brought many people from all over the world including the Chinese into California.

1850 The first and second Chinese residents of California[edit]

On September 9, California gained its statehood. The first U.S. Census, taken after California's admission into the union, shows 2 Chinese house servants listed as residents of Los Angeles: Ah Fou and Ah Luce.[3]

1852 Foreign Miners License Tax imposed on Chinese miners[edit]

In May 1852, the State of California, against the Chinese miners, passed the Foreign Miners License Tax Law. The tax was 3 yuan per month, when Chinese miners salary was about $6 per month.[3] The purpose of this tax was to protect the White people's jobs. The tax gradually increased until it reached $20 per month. In 1870, this tax law was declared unconstitutional.[4]

1854 People v. Hall[edit]

1858 California law forbade the entry of Chinese and Mongolians[edit]

California passed a law that forbid the entry of the Chinese and Mongolian ethnic people, but the law was immediately sentenced unconstitutional.[5]

1862 California passed the Chinese Police Tax[edit]

Chinese police in California, through the collection of taxes from the Chinese Police Tax Act, was passed in order to protect the White workers. This was supposed to help eliminate the Chinese competition, and to deter Chinese immigration to California. Under the Act, the Chinese paid $2.5 U.S. dollars per month as a tax. In 1863, this law was convicted of violating the California Constitution, and the California Supreme Court deemed it invalid.[6]

1865 Chinese Laborers Helped Construct the Central Pacific Railway[edit]

1866 The Civil Rights Act of 1866[edit]

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was passed for all who were born in the United States, regardless of race, color, age, or gender. Slaves who were U.S. citizens were also included in this law; however, this law did not protect foreign visitors, diplomats, or Indians. According to this law, employment and rental of racial discrimination are all illegal, but this law does not provide the federal penalties, leading to no help or support for the victims.


  • 1868 The Burlingame Treaty
  • 1879 California Constitution prohibited the employment of Chinese
  • 1880 The Fisheries Act prohibited the Chinese from engaging in fishery
  • 1882 The Chinese Exclusion Act
  • 1885 Rock Springs Massacre
  • 1886 Yick Wo v. Hopkins
  • 1888 The Scott Act
  • 1889 Chae Chan Ping v. the United States
  • 1892 The Geary Act
  • 1893 Fong Yue Ting v. United States
  • 1895 Lem Moon Sing v. United States
  • 1898 United States v. Wong Kim Ark
  • 1899 San Francisco Chinatown was Quarantined

Twentieth Century[edit]

Twenty-first Century[edit]

  • 2009 Taiwan Legislator Lee Ching-an resigned for having Dual Citizenship from Taiwan and the U.S.
  • 2009 California apologizes to Chinese Americans for past discrimination
  • 2009 Former Taiwan President Chen Shui-Bian claimed he was an agent for the U.S. military government
  • 2010 California became a majority-minority state
  • 2011 U.S. Senate Apologized for the Chinese Exclusionary Laws


  1. ^ Joyce, Amy (2005). "The Bias Breakdown". Washington Post.
  2. ^ "Time Line". 
  3. ^ "Foreign Miner's Tax". Asian American Experience in the U.S. 
  4. ^ "Foreign Miners' License Tax". California State Library. 
  5. ^ "Asian American History". Angel Island Immigration Station. 
  6. ^ "Chinese Police Tax Law". Ancestors in the Americas. 2009.