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Expansion And Diversification: Sino-Mauritians And Economic Development

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Chapter Summary

In the Mauritian context, ethnic middlemen minorities have been seen as invaluable, helping the island move from monocultural dependence to an industrial knowledge-based economy. Chinese retailers excelled at identifying diverse client bases, niche markets and new geographical opportunities. This chapter assesses how the small settler community weathered the vagaries of an economy vulnerable to boom and slump in world sugar prices and to devastating tropical epidemics, and met challenges created by global conflicts and trends. The 1901 census demonstrated that the most important occupations of the Chinese remained those of shopkeeper and shop assistant. The increasing wealth of Chinese traders and their permanent settlement and creation of community infrastructure, chiefly in Port Louis, helped to provide the capital and institutions necessary to create a new class of professionals among the Mauritian-born Chinese. For Sino-Mauritians, the links with diaspora Chinese from South East Asia proved doubly beneficial.

Keywords: Chinese retailers; Chinese shopkeeper; Mauritian economy; Port Louis; Sino-Mauritians



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