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Chinatowns - Past, Present and Future


About this project

For the past year and a half, a surge of undocumented migrants from China has trekked through harsh and dangerous terrain in South and Central America to enter the United States through its southern border with Mexico.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures, some 37,000 Chinese nationals were detained at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2023 — 10 times the number from the previous year.

Many of these migrants settle in Chinese enclaves and Chinatowns* in the United States from Los Angeles to New York City. They are just the most recent wave of migrants from China throughout history. For hundreds of years, waves of people have left China and established new lives around the globe.

Their reasons for leaving are varied, ranging from political to economic, from within and outside the country.

VOA reporters have spent several months reporting on Chinatowns around the world learning about their history, the people who live there and how Chinatowns have evolved over time. Eleven stories about Chinatowns will be presented in 11 days.

*Chinatowns as defined in this project can be a place, an enclave, a region or a community where the Chinese diasporas live or gather for food and groceries.