ASPIRING MINDS FOUNDATION
A Portuguese Captain in December of 1805, recruited 141 Chinese men in Macau and took them to Penang, where he recruited an additional 6 more men and another 53 were recruited in Calcutta making a total of 200. The total number of men who survived the journey were 194 as reported by Kim Johnson, but Walton Look Lai reported that there were 192 men, and one woman.
The ship Fortitude arrived on the 12th October 1806. They settled at the Surveillance Estate in Cocorite, (situated on the western edge of Port of Spain). This was the first organised settlement of the Chinese people in the Caribbean.
This was the first step in the plan to establish a settlement of free labourers and peasant farmers in the new British colony. It was suggested by the Royal Navy Captain William Layman that it would be cheaper to establish a new sugar plantations using free Chinese labour than it would with African slaves. While British officials felt that the settlement of Chinese immigrants would provide a buffer between the enslaved Africans and the whites, in the aftermath of the Haitian Revolution.
The group sought work as labourers work, seine fishers, a shoemaker, selling charcoal oysters and crabs, and others in the canefields, they worked under miserable circumstances. However, after one year 17 of the migrants had died and 61 of them departed with the Fortitude in July 1807. By 1810 only 22 of them remained with the number decreasing to 7 by 1834.
The abolition of slavery in the British Empire led to severe labour shortages, which saw the importation of Indentured labourers from various parts of the world. Between 1853 and 1866, saw the arrival of 2,645 Chinese immigrants to Trinidad, 2,336 were men, 309 were women and there were 4 children on the eight ships that arrived. They came under the same terms as the Indians.
When China was under the imperial rule of the Qing Dynasty, subjects who left the Empire without the Administrator's consent were considered to be traitors and were executed, family members also faced consequences. However, with the establishment of the Lanfang Republic, it was possible to attain permission. The republic lasted until 1884. British Guiana received 13,593 immigrants between 1853 and 1884, but they were attracted to a brighter way of life in Trinidad. Which increased the population by almost 9,000 immigrants. Those who emerged from indentureship and displacement of immigration became small traders, shop owners, laundry proprietors, and restaurant owners and cooks.
With more arriving after the Chinese revolution of 1911 and continued until the Chinese revolution of 1949, most were brought through the efforts of earlier immigrants. In the 1970's saw another influx of immigrants and has continued.
The Chinese community is a diverse mix that includes first-generation immigrants from China, it also includes people of unmixed and mixed Chinese ancestry, most Trinidadian Chinese originate from Guangdong province, especially the Hakka people.
A Chinese saying, “有阳光的地方就有华人, 有华人的地方就有客家人”, which literally means "Wherever there is sunshine, there will be Chinese. Wherever there is Chinese, there will be Hakka."