Between 1847 and 1874, up to 500,000 Chinese labourers were exported to various British, French, Dutch and Spanish colonies around the world. They were destined to work in plantations or mines, and Hong Kong was a key port for these labourers.
The Chinese diaspora led to what was locally known as the ‘Chinese Gold Mountain’. This described the number of firms engaged in banking, transportation and other services related to the trans-pacific trade. This was not restricted to gold, but included the export of prepared opium and other luxury goods for the Chinese diaspora.