Manchester, UK: The Industrial Revolution
Towards the end of the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution kicked off in the United Kingdom and steam would conquer the world as no power had ever done before. New transportation methods and work opportunities arising from Europe’s commercial expansion were to have a profound impact on the world of overseas Chinese.
Sail to steam
By the mid-1860s, steam ships had replaced many of the sailing ships available to Chinese emigrants, making the dreaded seafaring easier, faster, safer, more punctual, and much more frequent. Scheduled steamer services ran between south China and southeast Asia, carrying emigrants out and returnees back into the bustling ports of Xiamen, Guangzhou, and Shantou. For the next 50 years, an average of 300 emigrants would leave the port of Teochiu capital Shantou every single day.
Chinese also started to work as seamen on the vastly expanding European shipping lines and then stayed overseas to work around the harbors of the cities they landed in. Over time, European Chinatowns started to pop up near the ports of cities such as London, Liverpool, Hamburg, Antwerp and Amsterdam.
In addition to the rise of steam ships and job opportunities, there was another Europe-driven reason for the increase in Chinese going overseas towards the end of the 19th century…
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