THE HEATHEN CHINEE.
—■■■■ ■■ m ■ I I , ' HIS GRIP IN WELLINGTON. > (By Telegraph.—Own Correspondent.) . - - - -WEIJ_jNGaX>N> this day. That the yellow invasion is a stern reality, Wellington has good cause to know. The Celestials put their hands upon the fruit trade here and it became almost their exclusive possession. After securing practically a monopoly of fruit their attention soared .to. tobacco, groceries and other goods, and the "white people who try to make a living out of these other lines have begun to feel the pinch. A white grocer, giving evidence at the Arbitration Court said that there were a hundred Chinese shops in Wellington, and at every one .of them groceries were sold. Mr Grenfell, employers' representative,'remarked that owing to the large number of small shopkeepers and the competition of Asiatics the trade was not very lucrative at present. The estimate of a hundred Chinese shops dealing in groceries is probably too generous. The Labour Department, however, believes that-? Chinese shops which combine groceries with fruit and other, departments now total at least forty-five in the city area, four or five at Petone, and one or two at Lower Hutt. The forty-five Celestial emporiums in the city compete with about 124 European establishments of all sizes, and the Chinese, taking the districts and large, have rather the best of the strategic positions. Also the fact that the fruit and vegetable business serves as a "draw," helps them to place dry goods with their customers. In the matter of groceries, green groceries and fruit the fact remains that, though the prices are not in many instances lower than those of European competitors, or may not even be as low, the people somehow give the preference of custom to the Chinaman, probably owing to the British belief that the latter must necessarily be the cheaper proposition, merely because he is a Chinaman. ' On several occasions the Labour Department had tried to get convictions against the proprietors of Chinese groceries shops for working assistants after hours, but in each instance the wily Asiatic has escaped on tho partnership plea. Chinese shops are generally run by brothers or a company, and everybody on the premises seems to be a partner to the partnership placet The partnership plea is something too much for the European officers. It is submitted that the law should be amended to compel reputed Chinese proprietors to advance conclusive proof as to the partnership of assistants. At present the law undoubtedly operates in favour of the aliens and against the Europeans. The Labour Department is aware that Chinese storekeepers break the law almost every day as Tegards the selling of tobacco, cigarettes and cigars, after the statutory hours, but it pleads that they are too cute to be caught by an officer. They have been detected a few times, but Jiave not been deterred from persisting in a practice which sorely grieves their European rivals for the custom of Europeans.
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