News / USA

Chinese Immigrants Move Out of US Chinatowns

Chinese Immigrants Move Out of US 'Chinatowns'i
X
May 01, 2013
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'

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid