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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid