Season 2 Episode 3: William Liu - The pathfinder who fought for Chinese rights


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William Liu as a young man in 1920 and receiving his OBE in 1983
Images: State Library of NSW

William Liu was a tireless campaigner for the rights of other Chinese Australians to live and settle peacefully in this country.

Earlier in his life, he had been instrumental in exporting Australia’s department store model to China and Hong Kong. William fervently believed that economic ties between the two countries was the key to a strong relationship.

William Liu is in the centre row at right.
Image: City of Sydney Archives

He was often a lone voice in his fight, but he eventually saw success with the normalisation of relations between China and Australia in 1972. More importantly, the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 officially ended the White Australia Policy. In 1983, William was appointed to the Order of the British Empire.

He was a true Australian pathfinder, bringing hope and security to hundreds of Chinese Australians. He died in 1983 on Anzac Day.

William Joseph Liu, 1920. From C.F. Yong, The New Gold Mountain: The Chinese in Australia, 1901-1921, 1977, p.101
William Liu receiving his OBE
Wing Sang's exporters 1909 - City of Sydney archives
Wing Sang & co ~1910, Sussex and Hay Streets

Sincere department store, Nanking Road
Letter from William Liu on Wing Sang letterhead 26 May 1938
Anthony Horderns department store


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