The Chinese Community in North America

The Chinese community is one of the largest in the United States. It is also very active in preserving its culture.

In Canada Chinese communities are mainly concentrated in urban areas. In 2001, almost half of all people of Chinese origin lived in Toronto or Vancouver.

The Chinese have a strong emphasis on relationship and have a very sensitive concern for others’ feelings. This is evident in their use of language, food and social conduct.

Family Values

The concept of family is a fundamental pillar of Chinese culture. Unlike Western concepts of individualism and independence, the Chinese view of the family is one of interdependence. In Chinese society the concept of family includes not just the nuclear unit but also grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins and ancestors.

The family is believed to have a collective identity and reputation that influences how others perceive each member of the group. Children are expected to obey their parents without question and to care for their elders in their old age. This practice is known as filial piety.

While many Chinese families are now more modern and embracing of gender equality, there is still an emphasis on family values. This can be seen in the fact that members of a family will often live far apart from each other, such as when family members are at university or working in different cities. This can lead to homesickness and an inability for young adults to make independent decisions.

Social Relations

Chinese Canadians are active in community organizations that reflect their cultural traditions and North American characteristics. Adapted from fraternal-political associations in China, they provide social contact, family support, and political activism. They also serve as a focus of resistance to discrimination and prejudice.

After the Gold Rush, many Chinese immigrants established restaurants and laundries. Others became merchants. They also provided domestic services in white households and leased Chinese theaters. The growing numbers of Chinese in America provoked anti-Chinese attitudes. Stories circulated that the Chinese squatted in “Chinatown” neighborhoods and used opium, gambling, and prostitutes. Some American leaders argued that admitting the Chinese lowered America’s moral standards and threatened its racial integrity.

In modern times, the Chinese have adapted to modern life while maintaining strong ties to their culture. Despite economic hardships, young Chinese continue to commit resources to support their elderly parents and grandparents. They sponsor cultural exchanges with China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan to foster the preservation of traditional values.


Throughout modern history, China has experienced complex relations between religion and the state. During the Cultural Revolution, religion was largely banned, and many believers were forced underground or persecuted. In the 1980s, the Communist Party acknowledged the importance of religious beliefs to Chinese society and allowed the formation of new faith groups.

Today, the country maintains strict control over its religious activities, requiring that all groups accept and promote CCP ideology. It also regulates the construction of venues, the use of donations and real estate, and the training of religious leaders.

Under Xi Jinping, the government has stepped up efforts to sinicize religion by shaping it to conform to CCP doctrine and Chinese customs. New regulations, which took effect in March, prohibit unauthorized domestically generated online religious content and bar overseas organizations from operating online religious information services in the country without a permit. These measures targeted Christian content on WeChat, and some churches were told to stop group chats or remove articles mentioning their name.


The Confucian tradition of family harmony has influenced Chinese people over 2000 years and may also impact their food choices. Research suggests that a desire to maintain harmony in families/communities may influence dietary behaviour, with participants following their relatives’ dietary advice even when they didn’t trust it [70].

Rice and noodles are essential staples of the Chinese diet and meals often feature vegetables and handfuls of bite-sized meat. A variety of herbs and special ingredient soups are believed to have healing properties and many Chinese are vegetarian.

Communal eating is very common and is often the preferred form of dining when eating out. It is common to use serving chopsticks on the right side of the table (gongkuai) alongside personal chopsticks on the left side of the table (putongkuai). A range of teas are served and drinking tea is seen as a way of socialising and relaxing. The acculturation of Chinese students in the US influences their food consumption, with those who have become more Americanised consuming more Western foods such as sweetened beverages and cakes at birthday parties.

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