The China Association of America

In response to xenophobia and racism, CAA organizes demonstrations and rallies. It also supports workers rights and community-building projects, including a campaign to re-establish bilingual ballots for Boston Chinatown voters.

These papers include minute books and committee papers; correspondence with the Foreign Office, Board of Trade, Chinese Chambers of Commerce in Hankow, Tientsin and Hong Kong, the British Resident’s Association in Shanghai and the Hong Kong Association.


In the mid-1800s thousands of Chinese immigrants arrived in America with little or no resources. They formed family associations modeled after China’s huiguen system of group organization with official meeting halls, often based on regional districts or dialects and last names. These groups provided social, financial and political support for their members.

In addition to providing community support, the Association lobbied the British government on behalf of its members. For example, in the aftermath of the Communist advance across China during and after World War II, the Association alerted the British Government to the difficult trading conditions and worked to ensure that government action would be taken to protect British interests.

The Association also sent out invitations to British residents in Hong Kong, Yokohama and Shanghai to form branch associations. In addition, it corresponded with the Foreign Office regarding commercial grievances in China and produced quarterly political summaries for its members, translations of the Chinese press and maintained contact with the Embassy in London.


As a mercantile body the China Association took on a number of important intermediary functions. It acted as a trade representative for those who wanted to open and promote British trade to China. It compiled lists of standard marketing areas, correspondence with the Foreign Office and the Board of Trade and with the Hong Kong and Tientsin Chambers of Commerce as well as a series of annual reports (1889-1955).

The most fundamental function was that it acted as an alter ego alongside every unit of organization in society, namely the factory, farm, house or school. In this way the party acts as a replacement for traditional social systems and kinship structures in Chinese society today.

As a political organism the Party stresses its membership in a global movement held together by common adherence to a fixed Marxist-Leninist theory. It recruits from two segments of the population-workers and intellectuals-to fill positions in factories, schools, offices, and state administration.


The membership of the Society is open to all persons of Chinese descent who uphold its constitution and bylaws. Members receive free subscription to Statistica Sinica and Statistics in BioSciences (an official journal of ICSA). They also get to enjoy free access to the ICSA electronic Member News every month, and are eligible to serve on various ICSA committees.

CHSA collects, preserves and illuminates the history of Chinese America in order to inspire a greater knowledge of, and appreciation for, this remarkable collective experience. CHSA serves as a responsible steward of this history, while fostering a sense of community amongst its members and beyond.

The collection contains annual reports (1889-1995), correspondence (including with the Foreign Office, local Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of British Industries), and minute books for the General Committee, Shanghai Committee, Yokohama Association and Hong Kong Association; with detailed chronological indexes. It also includes separate items, including minutes and papers relating to the China Association’s School of Practical Chinese Endowment Fund (1908-1955). The material was deposited on permanent loan at SOAS in 1978.


Besides promoting Chinese culture and creating a social environment for its members, the society also contributes to the college community in various ways. Examples include one-week cultural activities, new students pick-up, sports competitions, and lectures on job hunting.

In addition, the CSA organizes community support for victims of anti-Chinese racial violence, lobbies the Commonwealth for unemployment forms and office support in Chinese, and works to increase Chinese-American involvement in electoral politics. The CSA also helped prepare the landmark US Supreme Court case Lau v. Nichols, and was instrumental in establishing the City College Chinatown campus in San Francisco.

The CSA is a dynamic operational group that is supported by many mainstream organizations and foundations, including the Freeman Foundation and the National East Asian Languages Resources Center at Ohio State University. It is also a 501(c)(3) organization and provides scholarships to its members. It is the backbone of the community and the organization of choice for the local Chinese-American community.

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