ACA – An Overseas Chinese Association


ACA is a group of people who come together to share and celebrate Chinese culture and heritage. Throughout the year they host workshops and events.

This collection includes minutes and papers of the China Association and its School of Practical Chinese Endowment Fund; correspondence with the Foreign Office regarding commercial grievances in China; and documents relating to the London Chambers of Commerce, the Tientsin and Hong Kong Associations and the Sino-British Trade Council.


Before the Civil Rights Act and the Immigration and Nationality Act passed, Chinese Americans faced discrimination in social welfare programs, economic opportunities and educational resources. An organization was needed to seek social justice and protect civil rights.

The China Association was established to meet this need, and its members lobbied the British Government and local authorities on behalf of Chinese workers and businesses. The Association also worked to alert the British Government to changing circumstances in China and acted to protect the interests of laid-off workers.

Today, the CCBA continues to serve as the focus of Chinese-American community in Augusta and across Georgia. CCBA hosts many community events and works closely with mainstream organizations such as the Visiting Nurse Service, American Cancer Society and the City of Augusta Mayor’s Office. The CCBA is the oldest Chinese-American organization in Georgia and recently received a historical marker from the Georgia Historical Society.


As semi-official platforms, Chinese associations bind overseas Chinese to Beijing and its political agenda. They often work closely with the embassy staff responsible for party-building and business regulation, for example in promoting peaceful national “reunification”, exercising discipline vis-à-vis unhealthy commercial competition, or installing safety monitoring systems in Chinatowns.

In addition, they serve as cultural and philanthropic intermediaries in promoting Chinese soft power in the host country. For instance, the Wellington Chinese Association organises concerts and cultural performances, runs a Chinese language school and Cantonese classes, and raises funds for relief efforts in China.

Academic research on Chinese associations is abundant. Li (1999) provides a comprehensive analysis of the associational life of Chinese migrants in Western societies and Kuhn (2008) extends this to Southeast Asia and North America. These studies reveal that Chinese associations are highly dynamic and transform from old guild structures to transnational organisations that are connected to both the local and the national spheres of power.


Many immigrants joined associations based on family names, locations or professions to help them succeed in their new homes. Look for your ancestors’ names on their rolls.

The digitized China Association records (1889-1955) contain minutes and committee papers; correspondence with the British Foreign Office, Board of Trade, Chambers of Commerce in Hankow (Hankou), Tientsin, Hong Kong and Shanghai, the Sino-British Trade Council, and the Chinese School of Practical Chinese; and annual reports.

Members of the CSA can participate in a variety of activities, from social events to community service. The society also offers various clubs that allow individuals with common interests to come together under one banner. For example, the CSA’s dance groups host performances each year to celebrate the holidays. They have also organized community support for victims of anti-Chinese racial violence and worked to increase Chinese-American involvement in electoral politics. The CSA is an active member of the Asian Professionals Employee Resource Group (APAD) at Discover.


The organization focuses on social activities for families and the community at large. Several clubs, designed for different interests, allow members to bond and learn Chinese culture.

The club is also active in tenant rights and workers’ rights issues, as well as promoting local Chinatown issues. It works with local politicians to advocate for preserving Chinatown’s heritage.

In the mid-1980s, the CCBA worked with laid-off workers at P & L Sportswear and Beverly Rose to establish Commonwealth-funded bilingual retraining programs.

During the Chinese New Year, the CCBA organizes parades and other public events, bringing family members together to celebrate the holiday. The club also promotes Chinese culture through public performances and workshops. This collection makes the digitized materials from this grassroots organization available to researchers and scholars.

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