Charter of the Overseas Chinese Patriotic Society
In my last blog, I erred in thinking that the Victoria Overseas Chinese Patriotic Society, one of Canada’s early ad hoc Chinese organizations, was established to combat anti-Chinese sentiments in British Columbia. A review of a later article published in 1915 revealed that the motivation for establishing this patriotic society was rooted in international politics in Asia, not in Canadian politics. This Chinese organization warrants a closer examination.
I think it might be interesting to take a look at the details expressed in the charter of the Overseas Chinese Society established in Victoria, Canada in 1915.
First here is a brief summary of the international events leading up to the publication of the charter in a Chinese Canadian newspaper. In 1915 China had lands leased out to and under the control of foreign countries as a result of earlier gunboat diplomacy and unfair treaties. Perhaps it was the rise of Japan though that most likely precipitated the simmering patriotism and fears of Overseas Chinese in Canada into the writing and publication of this charter document to demonstrate their love of the motherland China. During the First World War, Japan was allied with the United Kingdom, and when the Imperial Japanese Navy had a chance to replace the Germans in the governance of some of the islands in the Far East, they did so in 1914. The Japanese military then continued to consolidate their sphere of influence in China when they presented their Twenty-One Demands to the Chinese President Yuan Shikai on January 8, 1915. The Japanese managed to coerce the Chinese government into accepting 80% of their original twenty-one demands. The Chinese thus handed over increased economic as well as political influence to the Japanese. This move by the Japanese insulted the British and Americans, their allies against Germany at the time. The Chinese people on the mainland protested through demonstrations and boycott of Japanese goods. The charter of the Victoria Overseas Chinese Patriotic Society was published in the March 23, 1915 issue of The Chinese Times. The establishment of this society was more a result of the Overseas Chinese reaction to international politics than to local or Canadian politics as I had originally thought when I posted my last blog. The charter essentially established a framework for boycotting a country that might harm economically the motherland of China.
Some of the Chinese wording in this charter can be ambiguous. The Chinese (Hoiping) term for “motherland” du gog (祖國 or zu guo in Mandarin) in the context of much of the articles published in The Chinese Times (大漢公報) usually refers to China itself. Likewise the term for “national goods” gog fuo (國貨 or guo huo ) most probably means the domestic goods that China produces. The charter also employs the term “a certain country” mao gog (某國 mou guo) making it ambiguous as to which nation it is referencing. Although Japan was not specifically named in the charter, it would have been obvious to Chinese readers in 1915 Canada that Japan was the target of such a boycott.
I hereby reproduce the charter, as published in The Chinese Times, line by line and clause by clause. Each clause of the original Chinese text is followed by a draft of my translation. I welcome any corrections or improvements in the translation.
The Victoria Patriotic Society Charter
The Victoria Overseas Chinese Patriotic Society Rules
(1) Organization Name: The name of this society shall be called the Victoria Overseas Chinese Patriotic Society.
(2) Address: The Chinese Benevolent Association shall serve temporarily as the [society] office in the near term.
『（三）宗旨 以提倡愛國 振興國貨。力排外敵。。作政府後盾 不分黨界縣界姓界為宗旨。』
(3) Objectives: The objectives shall be to promote patriotism, to revitalize national [Chinese] goods, to be strenuously against foreign enemies, to support the [Chinese] government regardless of political partisanship, regional affiliation or clanship.
(4) Departments: One Society Chief and one Deputy Society Chief shall be established. Furthermore, the six departments shall be divided into General Affairs, Cultural Matters, Finances, Inquiries, Speeches, and Review. Hold positions of office in order to implement the objectives of this society.
『（五）經費 本團一切經費。由募捐充之。職員俱担義務。 不愛報酬。若祖國外交决裂時。則另向各界同胞。徵收愛國捐。電回政府。以盡國民責任。』
(5) Expenditures: All the expenses of this society shall be funded by soliciting donations. The staff duties are entirely voluntary, with no care for remuneration. If there is a break in diplomatic ties with the motherland [China], then a levy shall be imposed as a separate patriotic donation from our Chinese brethren from all walks of life. A telegram has been sent back to the [Chinese] government to employ to the utmost the duty of [Chinese] nationals.
(6) Staff authority and responsibilities: (a) Society Chief: In accordance with a Reviewed Resolution to execute a matter, has the authority to command the powers of every department to proceed.
(b) Deputy Society Chief: If by chance the Society Chief is absent, the Deputy Society Chief shall act on his behalf to implement his authority over others.
(c) Each Department Chief: Shall carry out the orders of the Society Chief. Has the authority to assign members in each department to conduct the affairs of society. The department members must carry out the orders.
(d) Anyone who does not belong to the affairs of any department shall belong to the General Affairs Department. The General Affairs Department Chief may monitor the progress of each department.
(e) Review Board: Shall have authority to pass a resolution on all ways of operating this society. It is organization law. Besides the original members of the Review Board, the Society Chief and Deputy Society Chief along with every staff member can also participate.
『（七）入團 凡屬中華民國國民。表同情于本團宗旨 願遵守本團約章者。準具志願書入團。不収基本金』
(7) Enrollment: Any Republic of China national who show sympathy to this society’s objectives and who willingly comply with this society’s charter, may be allowed to express a desire for a form to enroll and not receive capital.
『（八）團員義務 （甲）屬於箇人者。要實行鼓吹 振興國貨 。不用某國貨物。』
(8) Member voluntary duties: (a) Individual – that person must carry out enthusiastic promotion to revitalize the national [Chinese] goods. Do not use a certain country’s merchandise.
(b) Businesses – Must carry out the exclusion of a certain country’s goods. Buy our country’s (China’s) goods.
(c) When failure to put into practice the above two clauses, must comply according to this society’s penalties.
(9) Penalties: If anyone who violates clauses (8) (a) and (b), a person then by way of a Reviewed Resolution shall be set with a fine of between one and five dollars. Businesses however shall be set at a fine of between five to 50 dollars. To a non-member of this society and who is a Republic of China citizen, also by way of a Reviewed Resolution may be treated by means of the law of a certain country.
(10) Supplementary Provision: This society’s rules by way of majority membership, or when a society member requests, an all membership general meeting may be held to augment them, and when the Review Board’s observation of the situation deemed necessary can obtain a public vote for a declaration to dissolve.