News / USA

Chinese Immigrants Move Out of US Chinatowns

Chinese Immigrants Move Out of US 'Chinatowns'i
X
May 01, 2013 10:26 PM
Asians are the fastest-growing minority group in the United States and those of Chinese heritage have been in the United States since the mid 1800s. Almost every major U.S. city has a “Chinatown.” But many Chinese Americans have assimilated and no longer live in these enclaves, settling instead in city suburbs. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles, the home of one of the largest predominantly Chinese suburbs in the U.S., on how “Chinatown” has evolved along with ethnic Chinese immigrants.
Chinese Immigrants Move Out of US 'Chinatowns'
Elizabeth Lee
Asians are the fastest growing minority group in the United States, and people of Chinese heritage have been in the United States since the mid-1800s.  Almost every major U.S. city has a “Chinatown.”  But many Chinese Americans have assimilated and actually live in the suburbs.

From San Francisco to New York, visitors flock to Chinatown for food and souvenirs. But the Chinatowns in major U.S. cities these days are mainly for the tourists, says the acting director of the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, Steve Wong.

“If you walk around Chinatown today in Los Angeles and many other big cities, you have these facades of Chinese-ness, which sometimes is real, sometimes it's not. And so you have gift shops, you have Chinese food which is catering to American tastes.  I don’t even call it Chinese food. I think it’s very American,” Wong said.

But at one time, Chinatown was the only place where Chinese immigrants could live.  The first Chinese immigrants arrived from southern China in the mid-1800s as laborers.  Then in 1882, the U.S. banned Chinese immigration.  Hostility toward the Chinese led to the creation of Chinatowns. Again, Steve Wong.

“Without being able to bring in families and women, they weren’t able to develop their communities, so they had to turn to the outside and create an economy based on tourism,” Wong said.

Fred Wong, 73, lived and worked in the Los Angeles Chinatown for 15 years.  He came to the U.S. when he was 10, after the immigration ban was lifted.  He did not come with his biological parents.

“We were six of us and it was very hard for my parents, so she sold one and I was the second son she sold,” Wong said.

He says elderly Chinese and Latino immigrants now live in L.A.’s Chinatown.  The majority of the Chinese immigrants live in the suburbs.  In the last three decades, Chinese immigrants from Taiwan and then Mainland China arrived as students, who then stayed in the U.S., says University of Southern California Los Angeles professor Min Zhou.

“A lot of them are from middle class, they want to buy or rent houses rather than live in apartments and they also want to find good school districts so Chinatown is not attractive to them,” Zhou said.

In some major cities such as Houston and Los Angeles, Chinese are forming communities outside of the traditional Chinatown.  These neighborhoods are filled with strip malls, parking lots and banks that cater to the Chinese community.

Guo Wen Huang from Xian, China used to work in a factory back home.  Now he owns a restaurant in a Chinese suburb east of Los Angeles.  Like many of the immigrants here, he bought a house with a two-car garage.

He says that in China, skyscrapers are everywhere. The United States doesn’t have that many skyscrapers.  There are more single family homes here.  His first impression is that there are fewer people here, the air quality is better, and he can see blue skies.

While many Chinese immigrants are finding success in the United States, Steve Wong says as many as 750,000 undocumented Chinese immigrants also live here.  They are waiting to see if Congress will reform immigration laws.

Min Zhou says the immigration problem in the United States will continue because immigrants will continue to want a better life for themselves and their children.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid