Sikh Policeman on duty at Rikshaw Stand.
The Sikhs are a warlike race from North India who was classified as a martial race by the British. This was after the Anglo Sikh wars (1845-1849), when the British were almost defeated by the Sikhs. As per Joseph Cunningham the eye witness historian of that period, the British were lucky to win the Anglo-Sikh war as they were almost beaten. The fact that played a part in the Sikh defeat was poor leadership and traitors who betrayed the Sikh army.
These battles had a profound effect on the British and they started a partnership that lasted 200 years. The British as a global imperial power also went into a war with China and the result was the Opium wars of 1842. The Chinese were no match for the British and were defeated and ceded special trading and residential rights to the English. Shanghai a prominent sea port on the China Sea coast thus became part of the British influence and control of the city passed into the hands of the English.
The British also set up the Shanghai police force which was officered entirely by English officers. At the turn of the 20th century after the Boxer rebellion in Peking, where the British had used Sikh regiments to quell the rebellion, the realization dawned on the English that Sikhs could serve their purpose in China. Hence the British opened recruitment for Sikh policemen for Shanghai police. Lower positions in the Shanghai police force were given to Sikhs who went from Punjab to China.
The Sikh connection with China continued for almost 4 decades till the advent of the invasion of China by Japan. The Sikh policemen inspired awe among the populace, which almost bordered on dread. The Chinese had never seen bearded men with turbans on horses and on foot and they meekly obeyed the Sikh policemen. Sikh policemen never carried arms and their imposing figures had the desired effect on the Chinese. There are many photographs of Sikh policemen in China at the Shanghai Museum that are a real treasure.
It is confirmed that a Sikh Gurudwara existed in Shanghai till the forties, but after its take over by the Japanese there is no further record. Many Sikhs also married Chinese girls and settled down in China. There descendents may still be in China.
The Sikhs also did money lending business and as per records they charged an exorbitant rate of interest. Many Sikhs took to this trade (Money lending) in their spare time. The connection of the Sikh policemen with Shanghai needs greater study. I wonder in case any resident from Shanghai can throw some light on this aspect.
Sikh Police man on duty in Shanghai