The Chinese Community in Latin America

The Chinese community has forged a significant place in Latin America, particularly Peru where they are well-camouflaged. In fact, their colony there is much larger than official figures suggest.

Academic research recognises the positive functions of Chinese associations in foreign societies. They act as bridges connecting migrants and local communities.


Chinese have a long history of migration. The most common reason for a move overseas is to work abroad so that remittances can be made to support family back home.

The first wave of immigration from China started in the nineteenth century. Unskilled labourers, known as “coolies” formed a large part of this population. They migrated to America, Africa and Europe.

The first Chinatowns grew up around the time of this migration. They were usually found in coastal cities such as San Francisco and New York. They acted as hubs for the community. Here they could buy familiar foods and attend services in traditional temples. They were also a meeting place for local businesses that needed Chinese workers. They were also targets for anti-Chinese sentiment by labor leader Denis Kearney and his Workingman’s Party as well as Governor John Bigler, who blamed the Chinese for depressing wages and losing jobs for white Americans.


The linguistic landscape of China is as varied and vibrant as the country itself. From the elegant tones of Standard Chinese to the rich heritage of ethnic minority languages, the nation’s symphony of communication reflects a history of cultural identity and dynamic response to the globalizing currents that shape our modern world.

The majority of Chinese people speak Mandarin Chinese, and this variant is the one most familiar to Westerners. The ten other languages that make up the Chinese language group include Wu, Yue, Zhuang, Xiang, Min, Hakka, and Pinghua.

Yue, better known as Cantonese, is spoken in the Guangdong province of southern China and has a significant presence in diaspora communities throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Other regional dialects such as Xiang and Toisanese are also spoken.


Despite the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s promotion of atheism, most Chinese people identify as religious and practice some form of traditional religion or spirituality. Many of the beliefs and practices associated with monotheistic religions, such as prayers, offerings to spirits and attending congregational services are part of this religious practice.

China’s constitution, criminal, civil, judicial and military laws explicitly provide protection for freedom of religious belief and the rights of religious circles. The country also promotes the development of cooperation with international religious organizations and personnel.

However, the government has cracked down on some forms of religion. It prohibits evangelization online and has tightened control of Christian activities in venues that are not registered. It has also shut down churches and detained church leaders.

Family life

Traditional Chinese family life focuses on filial piety. Parents place their highest hopes on their children and want to see them succeed in life. In the past it was customary for families to live together and even after marriage couples live with their parents.

Today many families have changed to western styles with men taking the lead and women becoming more equal. However the concept of family is still important to most Chinese people.

The value of family can be seen in their benevolence towards others, especially during festive occasions. They also place great importance on loyalty to the nation. This can be seen in their military service, volunteering work and community involvement. In general they are a generous and loving people. They are often seen giving donations to charities.


Chinese people are highly devoted to their children’s education. They want their children to succeed in order to secure their own future as well as to impress their peers and family. They are also influenced by the concept of “face”, which represents a person’s reputation, influence, dignity and honour, so they behave carefully to avoid losing face.

In 2021, 62 percent of Chinese immigrants aged 25 and over had at least a bachelor’s degree, which is much higher than the overall foreign-born population (34 percent) and American-born adults (35%). They are also among the highest-achieving groups in key stage 2 reading, writing and maths with 80% passing the expected standards and more than 30% getting the higher standard. Their educational attainment is a great asset to their community.

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