Mauritius Tour
Talk: China Town, Mauritius
Prof. Chan Low Laval Jocelyn
Faculty of Social Studies & Humanities
Prepared by W.K. Lau
Prof. Chan Low Laval Jocelyn
China Town, Mauritius
Among the
Maldives), only
Mauritius has a
“China Town”.
China Town, Mauritius
China Town, Mauritius
China Town, Mauritius
How Chinese came to Mauritius
1664 – four Chinese convicts
1721 – French brought in Chinese as ship carpenters
19th Century –
Small China Town is formed (as Artisans, furniture
British abolish slavery, sugar evolution (plantation
1829 – Chinese came as sugarcane labourers
However, as some Chinese robbed banks, the
immigration of Chinese was stopped for some time
Chinese came to Mauritius as Traders
Three Ethnic Groups
1. Fukienese
2. Cantonese
3. Hakka
Develop China Town, brought in relatives (mainly
young males) from China, get jobs in shops
Chinese are self regulated (newcomers are not
burden to the country), compared with the Indians
(they came to Mauritius as citizens of the British
Hakka people
From Wikipedia,
The Hakka (Hakka language: Hak-kâ; Chinese: 客家), sometimes
Hakka Han,are Han Chinese who speak Hakka Chinese and have links
to the provincial areas of Guangdong, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Sichuan,
Hunan and Fujian in China.
The Chinese characters for Hakka (客家) literally means "guest
families". The Hakka's ancestors were often said to have arrived from
what is today's central China centuries ago and north China thousand
years ago.
In a series of migrations, the Hakkas moved, settled in their present
locations in southern China, and then often migrated overseas to
various countries throughout the world.
The worldwide population of Hakkas is about 80 million, though the
number of Hakka-language speakers is fewer. Hakka people have
had a significant influence on the course of Chinese and world
history: in particular, they have been a source of many revolutionary,
government, and military leaders.
Dispersed to villages, Chinese shops in
different villages
Built Kwan Tei Temple (關帝廟), took turns to
serve as Chairperson.
Conflicts among the Hakka and Cantonese,
many Cantonese went to Madagascar
Christianization (the owner of the sugar
plantation became godfather of the Chinese
Story of Prof. Chan grandfather
Work in shop
Sleep with revolver
Learn the Indian language
Original Plan of Chinese immigrants
Plan to return to China
Made profit, return to China to build houses
Established Chinese school (maintain the
Chinese Culture)
Decided to Stay
After 1949, many decided to stay
Less Chinese Schools
Learn local languages
Besides being traders, became
manufacturers and professionals
Dispersed out from China Town
Mauritian Riot (1999)
Compiled by Trinicenter News
Riots broke out on Monday February 22, 1999 following the death of a musician Berger
Agathe who was protesting the death in police custody of the African community's
favourite singer, Kaya. Kaya was arrested after smoking marijuana at a rally to promote
the legalisation of the drug. An inquest found that Kaya had been grabbed by his
dreadlocks and his head smashed against a wall.
Berger - a well-known local guitarist - was at the front of an angry and upset crowd,
demonstrating the death of Kaya. Berger was shot dead by a police who was a HinduMauritian. Supporters of the musicians accused the police of brutality against the island's
Black community (Creoles). In the slum African neighbourhood where the two musicians
lived - Roche Bois - Blacks poured out into the tin-shack alleyways and faced the Hindudominated police.
Mauritius had a race riot.
As rioting rampaged through the capital Port Louis for the third day, President Cassam
Uteem promised that there would be a judicial inquiry into the death of the singer. At least
four died in clashes with police, which were described as the worst the island has seen for
30 years. Thirty police officers were reported to have been injured, as rioters hurled
firebombs at police stations. Demonstrators blocked main roads and witnesses described
the burning of dozens of cars. Many of the protestors who went on the rampage were
young Blacks - a community descended from African slaves that makes up about 30% of
the population in Mauritius. They came from the poorer parts of the capital and other
towns and are underprivileged.
Chinese in Mauritius is a success
Rioters did not break into Chinese shops
during the 1999 riot in Mauritius……
Investments from Hong Kong (before 1997)
Investments from China (present)
Younger generation want to immigrate to
North America and Europe (UK, France)
Lost of Chinese identity
China Town declining
Q: Are Chinese in Mauritius interested in
A: They are not interested……
Q: Can the Chinese mingle well with the
other communities (Indians)?
A: They go to the same public school, they
understand each other (Population: 70%
Indians, 28% Black, 2% Chinese)……
Q:What is the language policy ?
A: English is the official language, other
languages include French and Creole. More
people are leaning Chinese (Putonghua) to
have trade with China……
Q: Why French remains as the local language?
A: The British were just interested in the sugar
Q: What is the average income of the people?
A: 15,000 Rupee for the average family. A
welfare system, school is free……
Q: What is the economy of Mauritius based
A: Formerly, based on the sugarcane
plantation (60% of the land), now based on
foreign investments and tourism…...
Other relating references:
Chinese Heritage Centre, Mauritius (China Town)
The Mauritius Chinese Museum, Port Lewis, was
developed by the “Chinese Heritage Centre Ltd”
founded by Henry LOO who is architect by
Other relating references:
The Chinese in twentieth century Mauritius nesein-twentieth-century-mauritius.html
The Chinese in Mauritius today post certain top
intellectuals, industrialists and professionals. This
is due to their intelligence, hard work and
dedication. There is no amateurism in their
Other relating references:
Ethnic Chinese in Mauritius
Mauritius' largest population groups are Indians
(68%) and Creole people (27%, mostly
descendants of slaves from Madagascar and
Mozambique), but the last census found 26,537
people who declared that at least one of their
forefathers had a Chinese language as the mother
tongue, which makes them about 2% of the
population. Most are descended from Hakka
speakers. Many have re-emigrated to Canada,
Australia, and France.
Other relating references:
Chinese Immigration
Very few Chinese emigrated to Mauritius when
compared to Indian emigration. It would
however be difficult to conceive Indian
Emigration without its Chinese counterpart.
Chinese labourers, merchants, artisans and
traders moved to the colonies or countries where
Indians had moved to.
Other relating references:
The Chinese Chamber of Commerce
The Chinese Chamber of Commerce was founded
on 8th December 1908. It is the second oldest
overseas Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The
first overseas Chinese Chamber of Commerce was
set up in Singapore in 1906.

University of Mauritius 12/8/2012