Expulsion of “Undesirable” Chinese from the Philippines, 1883–1898
Jely A. Galang, Ph.D.

Galang, Jely A. “Expulsion of ‘Undesirable’ Chinese from the Philippines, 1883-1898,” Journal of Chinese Overseas, Vol. 17, Issue 1 (2021), 147-178.


“Undesirable” Chinese – vagrants, undocumented migrants, pickpockets, beggars, drunkards, idlers and the “suspicious” – were considered “dangerous” by the Spanish colonial government because they posed a threat to the financial and political security of the Philippines. Mostly belonging to the laboring classes, these unemployed and marginally employed individuals were arrested, prosecuted and punished for violating policies relating to registration, taxation and migration. While other forms of discipline and punishment were meted out to these “minor” offenders, the state deemed it necessary to expel them from the colony.

This paper explores why and how “undesirable” Chinese were expelled from the Philippines between 1883, when the first expulsion order was issued, and 1898, when Spanish rule ended. Set in the broader political and socio-economic context of the late nineteenth century, it examines the actors, institutions and processes involved in banishing these offenders to China. Using previously underutilized archival materials, it interrogates the relations that emerged among various entities such as the state, the leaders of the Chinese community in Manila, private businesspeople, and Chinese “criminals” in terms of the expulsion process.

Keywords: outcasts, expulsion, Chinese criminals, Philippines