The Chinese Community

Chinese community

The Chinese community is a diverse group of people. It includes citizens and permanent residents, as well as those with student, work or other temporary visas.

Brazil has the largest Chinese community in Latin America, followed by Peru, Venezuela and Paraguay. Increasing numbers of Chinese have settled in Latin America since the late 1980s.


China is unique among the world’s major civilizations in that it has remained culturally distinct despite being invaded and occupied by barbarian tribes, while also having a long history of military and economic success. As a result, China is a nation with deeply embedded traditions and a strong sense of identity and its own place in the world.

Most Chinese people speak only Mandarin and are primarily Han (ethnic) in origin, but many regions in China have developed their own unique culture and traditions. Some have a written language different from Mandarin, and their own food, festivals and traditions.

The term “Chinese” refers to the population that reported Chinese alone or in combination with other ethnic origins in the 2001 Census and/or 2002 Ethnic Diversity Survey. This Spotlight focuses on people of Chinese origin, who are also Canadian citizens or legal permanent residents. The term “immigrant” denotes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees, and non-immigrants on student, work, or other temporary visas.


Chinese children are expected to spend a significant amount of time on their schoolwork. Parents are highly invested in their children’s education and success, especially as a means of establishing financial security. The one-child policy meant that most families had only one child, and they were utterly devoted to its progress.

After the 1950s, urban schools were given priority in providing students with quality teachers and equipment. This inherently elitist system led to competition among schools and students for the best scores on the entrance examinations that are required to gain university placement.

Despite the intense emphasis placed on scholastic achievement, China’s educational system has its critics both domestically and internationally. It is criticized for its high level of rigor and focus on rote memorization, which can discourage creativity and independent thinking. It is also often criticised for the lack of access to higher education for some rural and minority nationality areas. The system of shequ, or community organizations, was designed to relieve the state of some of its responsibilities and transfer them to citizens.


Religious beliefs and practices are an important part of Chinese culture. The government is tolerant of spiritual pursuits, although it remains wary about organised religion for its potential to destabilise the regime. The teachings of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism are embedded in the daily interactions of Chinese people.

China’s official state religion is atheism, but it supports freedom of belief for its citizens. According to estimates, there are about 116 million believers in the country. They follow Buddhism, Taoism and folk religions.

Counting the number of religious people in China is difficult. Statistics are based on surveys with low response rates and non-random samples. Nevertheless, many scholars believe that the majority of Chinese are Buddhists or adherents of Taoism. Protestantism was introduced to the country in the early 19th century, especially after the Opium War. It now has 15 million followers, 18,000 clergy and 12,000 churches. Folk religious movements also play a major role in rural Hebei.


The family is a central institution in Chinese culture. It reflects Confucian principles of harmony, benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom and loyalty. Children are expected to obey their parents, and elders are honoured and respected. Filial piety is considered a virtue, and it is hoped that the children will care for their aging parents and help them at all times.

It is common for young children to live with their grandparents while both parents work full time in order to gain a better financial position. The goal is to purchase a house, which requires long term saving and careful money management. A lot of quality family time is lost due to this lifestyle. People of Chinese origin are much less likely than the general Canadian population to live alone. In 2001, only 5% of adults aged 15 and over reported living alone, compared to 13% of all Canadian adults. This is especially true for seniors of Chinese origin.

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