The Chinese Community in Latin America

Chinese communities are centered in the cities and have their own religious, social and business organizations. These organizations help members find employment and maintain family ties. They also organize community activities.

Changes in immigration policy after World War II resulted in a new wave of Chinese immigrants, including Mandarin-speaking professionals entering the United States under more lenient quotas. This influx brought a shift in Chinatown’s population and demographic.


A dynamic presence in Canadian society, Chinese Canadians have made contributions to literature, sports, politics and civil rights, film and music. In addition to forming community associations and governing institutions, they have fought for inclusion in the nation’s idea of itself as a democratic and inclusive society.

In contemporary Chinese Canadian culture organized religion is not a prominent feature of social organization, although there are many Chinese-Christian churches. These churches are referred to by Thompson as modernist institutions which seek “to syncretize Oriental and Western traditions.”

In Canada, the majority of the Chinese population lives in metropolitan areas, especially Vancouver and Toronto. In these cities there are several Chinese language media outlets and numerous Chinese churches. Moreover, several actors of Chinese heritage are well-known in Canada, including Tommy Chong (Up in Smoke), Kristin Kreuk (Smallville), Byron Lawson (Snakes on a Plane) and Linlyn Lue (Degrassi: The Next Generation). Many of them are also active in promoting Asian Canadian cultural events and in providing educational opportunities for younger generations.

United States

Historically, Chinese in the United States lived in Chinatowns or Chinese-populated neighborhoods located in downtown areas of major cities. Many of these communities have faced racial profiling and anti-Chinese violence. Today, the majority of Chinese in the United States live in ethnoburbs, which differ from ethnic enclaves in that they are racially and socioeconomically diverse.

Ethnoburbs have replaced Chinatowns as the commercial and cultural centers of contemporary Chinese diasporas. They offer a range of services that support the Chinese community, such as restaurants, grocery stores, and cultural organizations.

Like other Asian Americans, Chinese in the United States are more likely to be Buddhists than Hindus and Muslims. They are also less likely to be Catholics or Protestants. 52% of Chinese Americans do not report having a religious affiliation, compared to the 26% overall among Asian American adults. The Chinese Culture Connection (CCC) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1985 that empowers Chinese immigrants and their descendants to appreciate and retain their heritage, develop bicultural fluency, and enrich others with the knowledge of Chinese language and culture.


With the exception of Venezuela and Colombia, Peru is one of the only nations in Latin America where there are a large number of Chinese residents. According to Isabelle Lausent-Herrera, a historian at the University of Lima, there are more than 60,000 Chinese people in Peru. These people are well camouflaged in their new country, but they make an important contribution to the economy and culture of Peru. For example, they have embraced many traditions and have set up restaurants called Barrio Chino in the cities.

In addition, they have brought leading technologies to improve water supply and sewage treatment in Peru. Their contributions have been so impressive that they even won the support of the government and local people. Peruvians refer to them as paisanos, which shows how much they have become integrated into the society. They are even involved in politics, with a member of the Peruvian Congress being of Chinese descent. This is a remarkable achievement in Latin America.


The Chinese community has an important role in Argentina. With their strong work ethic and family connections, they’ve been successful in the business sector. They’ve also helped bolster the country’s economy through investing in agriculture, mining and manufacturing.

Still, the Chinese are not fully integrated into Argentine society, and racial prejudices play a role. Last year, politician Maria Elvira Salazar drew attention for stating that Argentina is “a white country.”

Despite Salazar’s remarks, the relationship between Argentina and China has grown substantially, and a growing economic presence can be found throughout the country. Local media frequently covers Chinese organized crime, and there’s been critical coverage of China’s influence through the country’s pluralistic media.

Buenos Aires’ Chinatown is five blocks long and two blocks wide, with Chinese restaurants, oriental grocery stores and a Buddhist temple. It’s in the barrio of Belgrano and is accessible through a huge arch, which features carved stone lions and dragons on top and a giant red dragon at the bottom.

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