Chinese in Palau

Ethnic Chinese have been settling in Palau in small numbers since the 19th century. The early settlers consisted of traders and labourers, and often intermarried with Palauan women. Their offspring quickly assimilated with the local populace and generally identify themselves as Palauan. In recent years, Palau has seen a growing expatriate business community from Taiwan, after Palau established formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1999.[3]

Chinese in Palau
Elias Chin
Ibedul Yutaka Gibbons,[fn 1] Elias Camsek Chin
Total population
1,019 (4.9% of the population, 2000)[2]
Chinese,[3] Palauan, English
Christianity, Chinese folk religion[3]
Related ethnic groups
Palauans, Overseas Chinese


Early years

Chinese sojourners were known to have sailed by the Palau islands back to the 18th century. A Chinese junk reportedly sailed anchored at Palau for several days in 1782, and marooned a Malay-Indonesian man.[4] The following August, the British East India Company (EIC) ship Antelope, under the command of Henry Wilson, with sixteen Chinese sailors, wrecked at Ulong Island. The King of Palau sent his second son, Prince Lee Boo, to London, during which he landed on Macau and reportedly encountered curious sights from the townspeople.[5] In 1791, an English lieutenant of the EIC John McCluer established a fort and agricultural colony at Malakal Island and stayed there for several years with some Chinese labourers.[6] After the departure of McCluer and other lieutenants from Palau after 1798, the Chinese labourers settled in Palau.[7]

One Russian explorer, August von Kotzebue reported that Chinese or Filipino traders from Manila sailed to Palau and Yap during the early to mid 19th century to sell dragon jars to the islanders.[8] A few Chinese traders settled down and married women from aristocratic families.[9] English businessmen established commercial agriculture enterprises from the 1840s onwards, and often imported Chinese labourers from Southern China to tend to the plantations.[10] Chinese labourers were shipped into Palau from 1909 after phosphate deposits were discovered at Angaur some three years earlier. A few Chinese labourers occasionally led strikes against their German employers for the incessant flogging that they experienced and the poor-working conditions which they reportedly received.[11] The number of Chinese labourers arriving in Palau declined sharply in 1914, after the Chinese government banned Chinese men to seek employment overseas. The ban came just as Japan annexed Palau from Germany, and Chinese labourers were quickly replaced by Japanese and Micronesian labourers.[12]

A few Chinese labourers continued to arrive in Palau in the 1920s. Many of them were deported during the early days of the Japanese military administration, and only accounted for fifteen individuals in a 1923 census[13] They generally received higher wages than the Palauans and immigrant Chamorro labourers, albeit only two-thirds the amount received by their Japanese counterparts.[14] Offsprings of Chinese men and Palauan women assimilated into the local community, and were generally identified as Palauans during the Japanese colonial era and in the years when Palau was under American administration.[15]

Recent years

A few Taiwanese businessmen began to reside in Palau over a long-term basis after Palau established formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1999. Tourists from Taiwan accounted for 45% of all tourist arrivals in Palau, and many Taiwanese businessmen purchased land in the urban areas. Taiwanese businessmen dominate the tourist and corporate sectors of Palau's economy, and have invested in the country's hotels.[16] As reports of Taiwanese dominance in Palau's business sector surfaced, there was occasional talk of resentment among Palauan politicians from 2005 onwards.[17] In 2009, six[18] ethnic Uighurs from the Guantanamo Bay prison were permitted to resettle in Palau, after the United States managed to secure an agreement with Palau to resettle the former prisoners.[19]


  1. ^ A former mayor of Koror, and now the High Chief of Koror (as of 2009). Gibbons' paternal grandfather was Chinese. His father inherited the chieftain title from his mother (Ibedul's grandmother). Text source: "Chief Gibbons is a generation removed from Chief Termeteet. His father is a half-blooded Chinese from large and powerful clan of __. He inherited the crown by his mother's line. A veteran of the US Army, he was called back from the service to assume his reign at the death of his uncle,..."[1]


  1. ^ Ngiraked (1999), p. 5
  2. ^ Palau, CIA World Factbook, retrieved October 14, 2009
  3. ^ a b c 帛琉:大多數人未婚生子 三人行必有親戚(圖) July 29, 2009, Big 5 China news agency
  4. ^ Fuentes (2002), p. 245
  5. ^ Percy et al. (1826), p. 142-3
  6. ^ Lévesque (2000), p. 13
  7. ^ Peacock (1987), p. 154
  8. ^ Glascock (2002), p. 240
  9. ^ Denoon et al. (2004), p. 446
  10. ^ Parmentier (1987), p. 46
  11. ^ Hezel (2003), p. 121-2
  12. ^ Denoon et al. (2004), p. 237-9
  13. ^ Martin (1923), p. 1108
  14. ^ Price (1944), p. 158
  15. ^ Charity Organization Society of the City of New York (1945), p. 291
  16. ^ Pacific Magazine, Volume 30,–Issues 1-6 (2005), p. 8
  17. ^ Crocombe (2007), p. 101-2
  18. ^ 2 More Uighur Detainees at Gitmo Heading to Palau September 19, 2009, Associated Press via Fox News (retrieved October 15, 2009)
  19. ^ Survivor: Gitmo Edition, Annie Lowrey, June 2009, Foreign Policy (magazine)


  • Charity Organization Society of the City of New York, The Survey, Volume 81, Survey Associates, 1945
  • Crocombe, R. G., Asia in the Pacific Islands: Replacing the West, 2007, ISBN 982-02-0388-0
  • Denoon, Donald; Meleisea, Malama; Firth, Stewart; Linnekin, Jocelyn; Nero, Karen, The Cambridge History of the Pacific Islanders, Cambridge University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-521-00354-7
  • Fuentes, Agustín; Wolfe, Linda D., Primates Face to Face: Conservation Implications of Human-nonhuman Primate Interconnections–Volume 29 of Cambridge Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology, Cambridge University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-521-79109-X
  • Glascock, Michael, Geochemical Evidence for Long-distance Exchange: Scientific Archaeology for the Third Millennium, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN 0-89789-869-9
  • Hezel, Francis X., Strangers in Their Own Land: A Century of Colonial Rule in the Caroline and Marshall Islands (Issue 13 of Pacific Islands Monograph Ser. 13), University of Hawaii Press, 2003, ISBN 0-8248-2804-6
  • Lévesque, Rodrigue, History of Micronesia: Mostly Palau, 1783-1793–Volume 15 of History of Micronesia: A Collection of Source Documents, Lévesque Publications, 2000, ISBN 0-920201-15-6
  • Martin, Frederick; Sir John Scott Keltie, Isaac Parker Anderson Renwick, Mortimer Epstein, John Paxton, Sigfrid Henry Steinberg, The Statesman's Year-book, St. Martin's Press, 1923
  • Ngiraked, John O., Heritage Belau, Island Horizon Printing, 1999, Island Horizon, 1999
  • Pacific Magazine, Volume 30,–Issues 1-6, PacificBasin Communications, 2005
  • Parmentier, Richard J., The Sacred Remains: Myth, History, and Polity in Belau, University of Chicago Press, 1987, ISBN 0-226-64695-5
  • Peacock, Daniel J., Lee Boo of Belau: A Prince in London, Pacific Islands Studies Program, Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, University of Hawaii, 1987, ISBN 0-8248-1086-4
  • Percy, Reuben; Percy, Sholto, The Percy Anecdotes: Original and Select: Volume 15, J. Cumberland, 1826, Princeton University
  • Price, Willard, Japan's Islands of Mystery, The John Day Company, 1944
Overseas Chinese

Overseas Chinese (traditional Chinese: 海外華人/海外中國人; simplified Chinese: 海外华人/海外中国人; pinyin: Hǎiwài Huárén/Hǎiwài Zhōngguórén) are people of ethnic Chinese birth or descent who reside outside the territories of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Although a vast majority are Han Chinese, the group represents virtually all ethnic groups in China.

Ethnic groups in Palau
Foreign residents

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