Chinese Community in the United States

Chinese communities abroad have a broad range of cultures. Religion, language, food, family ties and even the music they listen to can all form part of their culture.

Early Chinese immigrants gathered in ghettoes called “Chinatowns.” They were often exploited and discriminated against. They often remained loyal to their own cultural values and traditions.


There have been three major waves of Chinese immigration to the United States. Many came during the California Gold Rush of the 1850s, to build the Central Pacific Railroad in the 1860s and to work as laborers in Western mining communities. In addition to these jobs, some became cooks, laundrymen, teamsters and domestic servants. Chinese settlers were also involved in commercial enterprises and merchant associations. Racial prejudice, often fueled by the Yellow Peril, was common at all levels of American society.

The Chinese community is concentrated in Ontario and British Columbia. Over 80% of people who claim Chinese ancestry live in these two provinces. There are also large populations in the cities of Toronto and Vancouver. This concentration is likely to continue as new immigrants come from those regions.


The Chinese community has a long history of migration. Many of its members have a deep sense of loyalty to their homeland and are committed to supporting family back home through remittances. They have been instrumental in China’s modernization through their financial contributions.

They have also contributed to the development of their new homes. For example, Chinese immigrants are often the first to build housing developments and retail stores in their communities. They are known as hard workers and spend money on education for their children.

Most recently, the Chinese community has consolidated into large metropolitan areas. For instance, in 2001 72% of people of Chinese origin in Canada lived in either Toronto or Vancouver. They are often highly educated and many study at universities that offer MBA programs, social science and humanities. They also work in high-level positions in multinational corporations. Their culture is reflected in their food, style of dress, music and morals.


Chinese culture is oriented around the family and the community. This is a result of Confucian doctrines that emphasize the importance of relationships and group orientation (Zheng, 1997). For example, major personal decisions such as choosing a career are often made on a family basis rather than on an individual basis. Business decisions are also based on group consensus.

In addition to being hard-working and thrifty, the Chinese value education for their children. Often they will go to great lengths to ensure that their children receive the best possible education, even if it means leaving their home country.

In Canada, people of Chinese origin are mainly concentrated in Ontario and British Columbia. In 2001, 82% of Canadians who reported being of Chinese origin lived in one of these two provinces. In contrast, the majority of Texans who identified as being of Chinese heritage resided in the cities of San Antonio and El Paso. These urban populations formed self-reliant communities that became known to locals as Chinatowns.


China is home to expats from a variety of countries and backgrounds. Many relocate as professionals, seeking career advancement opportunities or a quality lifestyle. The country also attracts a growing number of students, who seek academic opportunities and a better standard of living. In addition, the country is seeing more low-skilled labor migration and marriage migration.

Relocating to China requires navigating its bureaucratic intricacies and understanding business establishment procedures. Expatriates must also prepare comprehensive CVs and cover letters, network with other professionals in the field, and secure a work permit upon securing a job offer. Mastering the Chinese language is a significant step toward cultural immersion. Language learning apps, courses, and language exchange meetups are helpful resources.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, expats were put under tremendous pressure to remain in China, even as they struggled with the claustrophobia of being stuck in their homes and the xenophobic messaging arising from Beijing’s zero-Covid policies. The experience was a reminder of the complex and challenging realities that foreigners face in China today.

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