A Chinatown is a section of an urban area with a large number of Chinese outside the majority-Chinese countries of Greater China. Chinatowns occur all over the world, including those in East Asia, Southeast Asia, North America, South America, Australasia, and Europe.
In the past, overcrowded Chinatowns in urban areas were generally shunned by the non-Chinese public as ethnic ghettos, and seen as places of vice and cultural insularity where "unassimilable foreigners" congregated. Nowadays, many old and new Chinatowns are considered significant centers of commercialism and tourism. Some of them also serve, to varying degrees, as centers of multiculturalism, if in a somewhat superficial manner.
Many Chinatowns are focused on commercial tourism, whereas others are actual living and working communities; some are a synthesis of both. Chinatowns also range from rundown ghettos to modern sites of recent development. In some, recent investments have revitalized run-down and blighted areas and turned them into centers of economic and social activity. In certain cases, this has led to gentrification and a reduction in the specifically Chinese character of the neighborhoods.
Some Chinatowns have a long history, such as the Chinatown in Nagasaki, Japan, or Yaowarat Road in Bangkok, both of which were founded by Chinese traders more than 200 years ago. Chinatown, San Francisco, California is the first and largest Chinatown to be established outside Asia. Other cities in North America where Chinatowns were established in the mid-nineteenth century include almost every major settlement along the West Coast from San Diego to Victoria BC and Vancouver BC. By the second half of the nineteenth century, bustling Chinatowns were also established in New York, Chicago, and Detroit. The discovery of gold in Australia caused the establishment of relatively small Chinatowns in cities there, and similar migrations of Chinese resulted in tiny settlements termed "Chinatowns" being established in New Zealand and even South Africa. European Chinatowns, such as those in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, are for the most part smaller and more recent than North American Chinatowns. Other Chinatowns are newer, such as in Chinatown, Las Vegas in 1995, Dubai, and Santo Domingo and have received official recognition.
Trading centres populated mainly by Chinese men and their native wives had existed throughout Southeast Asia for many years but emigration to other parts of the world from China accelerated in the 1860s with the enactment of the Treaty of Peking, which opened the border for free movement. The early emigrants came primarily from coastal province of Guangdong and Fujian (Fukien)—where Cantonese, Hakka, and Chaozhou (Teochew, Chiu Chow) are largely spoken—in southeastern China. Initially, the Qing government of China was unconcerned by the emigration of this population as they were likely considered socially undesirable and "traitorous" to China. Moneymaking was also frowned upon in Confucianist China, which Chinese migrants were intending to earn wages as sojourners. However, the Chinese were not a unified group but were divided upon sub-ethnic/linguistic lines, as feuds between those of Cantonese (Punti) and Hakka stocks were common. Generally, there were also sub-divisions based on Chinese clans/surnames.
Taishanese and Cantonese settled in the first North American (United States, Canada), Australian, and Latin American Chinatowns (Cuba, Mexico, Peru). Most of them were brought as coolie slaves to build the railroad. As a group, the Cantonese are linguistically and ethnically distinct from other groups in China with migrants especially coming mostly from the Siyi and Sanyi regions (with various variations of spoken Cantonese) of Guangdong; Cantonese remained the dominant language and heritage of many Chinatowns in Western countries until the 1970s. Due to laws in some countries barring the importation of Chinese wives (for fear of the perceived Yellow Peril), some Chinatowns emerged as bachelor’s societies where males dominated and the male-to-female ratio population was generally skewed. In Latin America, many Cantonese-speaking migrants arrived as indentured labourers particularly in Peru (to work in the deadly guano fields) and Cuba (to labor in sugar plantations) giving those countries substantial Chinatowns.
The Hokkien and Teochew (both groups speaking the Minnan sub-group of Chinese dialects), along with Cantonese are the dominant group in Southeast Asian Chinatowns. Chinese migrants also pioneered some major Southeast Asian cities, such as Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and hence Chinese influence is felt there. The Hakka groups established Chinatowns in Africa (particularly Mauritius), Latin America and the Caribbean. Northern Chinese settled in Korea in the 1940s.
In Europe, early Chinese were generally seamen who jumped ship and began to provide services for other Chinese mariners. In the nineteenth century and early twentieth century the United Kingdom treated China as part of its unofficial Empire employing Chinese in its merchant marine in significant numbers. Consequently, from the 1890s onwards, significant Chinese communities grew up in London and Liverpool—the main ports for the China trade. However, these communities were a mixture of Chinese men, their British wives and their Eurasian children. Moreover, they were generally inhabited by those Chinese catering for Chinese seamen. The majority spread throughout these cities usually operating laundries at this time.
France received a large settlement of Chinese immigrant laborers, mostly from the city of Wenzhou, Zhejiang province of China (to this day, France continues to attract many Chinese immigrants from this particular province; Paris’ newest Chinatown in Belleville is heavily influenced by such immigrants). Chinatowns are also found in the Indian cities of Calcutta (once Hakka influenced) and Bombay.
By the late 1970s, the Vietnam War also played a significant part in the development and redevelopment of various Chinatowns in developed Western countries. As a result, many Chinatowns have become pan-Asian business districts and residential neighborhoods. By contrast, most Chinatowns in the past were solely inhabited by Chinese from southeastern China.
Historic Chinatowns such as San Francisco (see Chinatowns in North America#Northern California) has had a significant influence on the perception of Chinatowns in western countries. Although, in reality it and other North American Chinatowns fall outside the tradition of Chinese settlement in having significant numbers of Chinese women.
Chinatown, Singapore Singapore's Chinatown centers around the major Eu Tong San street and branches out over a large area onto side streets. It is served by an MRT station by the name of 牛车水 (Pinyin: niu2che1shui3) literally meaning "bullcart waters". Near the station is a large covered shopping area primarily geared at tourists, although not far from this one can find local markets, bakeries, full-blown Chinese malls, plenty of restaurants, the night market on Smith Street, and several temples including the recently completed Buddha Tooth Relic temple. A curiosity of the Singapore Chinatown is that in the middle of it is the large Sri Mariamman Hindu temple. Unlike other countries with Chinatowns, in which the population of Chinese origin is relatively low in number, Singapore's population is dominated by over 70 percent Chinese descendants. Hence, the "Chinatown" is not a center of immigration and inexpensive food but rather a center of celebration of Chinese culture and often more upscale in taste than outside it.
Yaowarat Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Established in the 1700s, Chinatown is located in one of the oldest areas in Bangkok. It was set up by Chinese traders who came in junks to trade with Thailand (Siam) during the Rattanakosin period, about 1700s. By the end of 1891, King Rama V had cut many roads, Yaowarat Road is one of them. Therefore Chinatown doesn't consist of only Yaowarat Road, but also covers others such as: Charoen Krung Road, Mungkorn Road, Songwat Road, Songsawat Road, Chakkrawat Road etc. Yaowarat is the centre of the area.
Meaning Chinese Roads or Quarters, it covers almost a fifth of downtown Yangon. The lay-out of Chinatown dates back to the British expansion of Yangon, around the 1850s, thus being as old as the downtown.
Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in 1571, trade between ethnic Filipino Malays and Chinese traders was already established in pre-colonial Manila. Manila's Chinatown is one of the oldest in Asia, established sometime in the late 17th century. It is home to many ethnic Chinese who left the Chinese mainland for a home in the Philippines. Binondo is a stone's throw away from the District of Intramuros, which was the Philippine's administrative capital under Spanish rule. The district was within the range of Intramuros' canons to quell any uprising the Chinese could have started. Binondo became a center of commerce during the American colonial era of the Philippines, since the Chinese were known to be experts in trading and finance. Banks, department stores, restaurants, insurance companies, nearly all giant commercial establishments were built in Binondo, the most prominent of which are located in the Escolta Avenue, though these are somewhat out of vogue and dilapidated today. World War II destroyed much of Binondo's commercial establishments. After the war, most companies relocated to Makati, the current central business district of Metro Manila.
Shinchimachi, Nagasaki, Japan
With the overthrow of the Ming Dynasty by the Qing in the late 17th century, some Chinese (supporters of the Ming) fled to Japan and formed a Chinatown community in Nagasaki before the start of the 18th century, making it (along with the Binondo district of Manila of the Philippines) one of the earliest Chinatowns to be established. Under the isolationist policies of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan, Chinese and Dutch traders and settlers were confined to Nagasaki. Trade was subsequently resumed with China and Shinchimachi became a trading hub. Shinchimachi has long been the ethnic Chinese cultural and commercial center in Japan, although it size pales in comparison to its counterpart in Yokohama.
Cholon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
In the early 18th century, Chinese settlers established Chinatowns mainly in Southeast Asia, including the Cholon district of the former Saigon, Vietnam. Cholon was heavily fortified by Chinese to protect against frequent harassment by native Vietnamese Tay Son loyalists. It remains largely a bustling Cantonese-speaking enclave, comprising Districts 5 and 6 of the city, now renamed Ho Chi Minh City.
Chinatown, San Francisco, California, United States As a port city, San Francisco's Chinatown, the largest in North America, formed in the 1850s and served as a gateway for incoming immigrants who arrived during the California gold rush and construction of the transcontinental railroads of the wild western United States. Chinatown was later reconceptualized as a tourist attraction in the 1910s. Once a community of predominantly Taishanese Chinese-speaking inhabitants, it has remained the preeminent Chinese center in the United States.
Chinatown, New York, New York, United States New York City is home to three Chinatowns: Chinatown, Manhattan, Flushing, Queens, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Manhattan's Chinatown is one of the largest in the world and continues to be a location of shopping and recreation for both Chinese immigrants and those interested in Chinese cuisine and culture alike. As a major port of immigration to the United States, New York's Chinatown also includes large residential areas as well as common residential services such as laundromats, grocery stores, and markets.
Chinatown, Boston, Massachusetts, United states Boston's Chinatown is smaller and focused on food, as almost every business in the roughly 4 blocks is in the food industry. While small supermarkets also exist, most Chinese immigrants in Boston go elsewhere to much larger and more complete markets that have set up elsewhere outside the cramped Chinatown. Boston's Chinatown also gained popularity for the several companies that served Boston Chinatown to New York Chinatown bus routes, of which today two continue to operate and use Boston's South Station instead, a short walk from Chinatown.
Chinatown, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Vancouver's Chinatown is the largest in Canada, and the second largest in North America, after San Francisco, CA. Dating back to the late 19th century, the main centre of the older Chinatown is Pender and Main Streets in downtown Vancouver, which is also, along with Victoria's (Chinatown, Victoria), one of the oldest surviving Chinatowns in North America, and has been the setting for a variety of modern Chinese Canadian culture and literature. Vancouver's Chinatown contains numerous galleries, shops, restaurants, and markets, in addition to the Chinese Cultural Centre and the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden and park; the garden is the first and one of the largest Ming era-style Chinese gardens outside China.
Chinatown, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Toronto's Chinatown took shape during the turn of the 20th century, as Chinese workers arrived from western Canada after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. With changes in immigration patterns since the 1980s, the downtown enclave has come to reflect a more diverse set of East Asian cultures, particularly evident in the variety of restaurants that offer Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai cuisines. More recently, several satellite Chinese communities have formed in suburban parts of Greater Toronto, most notably in Markham and Mississauga.
Chinatown, Chicago, Illinois, United States What once used to be one street of Chinese restaurants and gift shops has grown to include housing developments, businesses and an outdoor mall. Chinatown Square consists of restaurants, gift shops, doctor's clinics, groceries, banks, and other businesses such as insurance offices, hair saloons and eyeglass shops. Even though the area is constrained by the Red Line train at the east border, the Amtrak railway on the west side, 26th Street along the south end, and the empty railroad lot to the north, the area is growing outward toward McCormick (east), the Loop (north), Bridgeport (south/SW), and Pilsen (west/NW). Most of the Chinese population lives in Bridgeport where it was once dominated by Italians and Irish. Now the population is moving toward McKinley Park and Brighton Park. Chicago has another Chinatown uptown, predominately Chinese-Vietnamese. It is growing, and housing prices are almost double those of the original Chinatown.
Chinatown, Detroit, Michigan, United States When the first "Oriental" came to Detroit in 1872 and opened a "washee" on Beaubien and Gratiot Ave. in Detroit, the Chinese population rapidly increased in southeast Michigan. Gradually shifting to Third and Michigan Avenues in Detroit, the ethnic borough once distinguished as Chinatown reached a population of over 3,000 residents. The Detroit News frequently ran stories that highlighted Chinese celebrations, customs, and cultural practices--many of which drew crowds of non-Asian individuals both in and outside of urban Detroit. "Double Ten Days" (October 10), the Independence Day of the Republic of China, and Chinese New Year were often celebrated during times of economic prosperity in the enclave. However, both the Great Depression and the gentrification caused by a land redevelopment plan, that included construction of the Lodge Freeway and an eventually defunct plan to fund a multi-ethnic commercial district called the "International Village," suppressed the often expensive and public display of fireworks, theatre, or parade. After deliberations regarding the construction of an "International Village" halted, the Chinese population opened a string of new restaurants and stores along the Cass Corridor, stretching north from Peterboro St., south to the Masonic Temple. This sudden revitalization of community was quickly referred to as the New Chinatown, but soon crime and other factors stirred residents to the point of dispersal. Currently, less than 100 Chinese Americans reside in Detroit city proper, although over 300 Chinese visiting students and scholars attend the local public university, Wayne State. The Association of Chinese Americans, an outreach center that serves both Detroit and satellite suburb, Madison Heights, is the only Chinese organization that remains operational in the geographic region once referred to as Chinatown, a now hollow stretch of vacant land and arsoned buildings.
Chinatown, Houston, Texas, United States There are two Chinatowns: the old Chinatown located downtown near the George R. Brown Convention Center and the new one located west of Bellaire in the Alief neighborhood along Bellaire Boulevard between Gessner and Dairy Ashford. Houston Chinatown is a place of food, Chinese groceries, films, souvenirs, and the offices of the Chinese Merchants’ Association.
Chinatown, London, United Kingdom
London's Chinatown was established in the Limehouse district in the late 19th century as Chinese seamen established themselves in the city. Its reputation has come to define Chinatowns as exotic and dangerous with various vices, such as opium dens and gambling dens (called fan tans). Chinatown served as the setting for classic British anti-Chinese literature such as villainous Dr. Fu Manchu as well as a setting for one Sherlock Holmes story. Its end came as Limehouse was destroyed during The Blitz by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. With an influx of new immigrants from then British possession of Hong Kong, a new Chinatown (mainly commercial) became established in the Soho district of central London in the 1950s and 1960s.
Chinatown, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Similar in many respects to London's original Chinatown in its origins and the inter-marriage between local women and Chinese men, Liverpool's Chinatown never had the glamour of that of London.
At the beginning of World War Two there were 20,000 Chinese seamen based in the city and London's Chinatown was reduced to insignificance. Chinese sailors settled down with local women and in the war years the city's Eurasian population grew rapidly. By the end of the conflict it numbered around 1,000. With the end of the War the men were forcibly repatriated leaving behind them their wives and their children. Few were ever to see their families again. see:
With the Communist victory in China 1949, men were no longer recruited from the Mainland. Rather they came from Hong Kong and Singapore. Some did settle and marry local women but Liverpool's Chinese or rather Eurasian population had reached its peak and was in decline as they married into the local community.
In the late 1950s a new group of Chinese began to arrive in significant numbers from Hong Kong's New Territories. For the first time Liverpool and London had Chinese Chinatowns. Their mixed race past became forgotten.
Chinatown, le quartier chinois, Paris, France
During World War I, 140,000 Chinese arrived in France as temporary labour, replacing French male workers who went to the war. Most left after 1918, but a community of 2,000 stayed and created the first Chinatown (l'Ilot Chalon) near the Gare de Lyon. Nothing is left of it today.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Wenzhou Chinese settled in Paris and worked as leather workers near the Jewish neighborhood in the 3rd arrondissement. Taking over the wholesale trade lost by the Jews during the German occupation of France during World War II, this Chinese community still exists today, but remains extremely discreet. No obvious signs of Chinese culture are to be seen in the rue du Temple, though most shops in this wholesale neighborhood are held by overseas Chinese.
Today's Chinatown was created in the 1970s in the 13th arrondissement. Fleeing persecution and civil wars in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, those overseas Chinese, mostly Teochew and Cantonese, settled in this newly renovated area. Unlike the Wenzhou settlement in the 3rd arrondissement, signs of Chinese culture are more likely to be seen and a strong business community has developed. An estimated 68,000 residents of Chinese origin now live in this area of Paris.
With China opening up, more Chinese settlements are developing in Paris and its suburban areas. In Belleville (19th arrondissement), another wave of Wenzhou have settled and has taken over this originally North African settlement. Large communities are to be found in small towns outside Paris like Lognes/Torcy, or Noisy Le Grand, where earlier migrants settled, but again without bringing out the usual signs of Chinatown.
Illegal immigration from China is booming; authorities also fear that France's "Authorized Destination Status" with easier visa procedures for China nationals will only increase uncontrolled migration. Illegal workshops have been existing for several years, without always being located within "official" chinatowns and still exist and flourish in different areas in the 11th arrondissement and outside of the city of Paris.
(See also: Chinatown patterns in North America)
Many tourist-destination metropolitan Chinatowns can be distinguished by large red arch entrance structures known in Mandarin Chinese as Paifang (sometimes accompanied by mason lion statues called "fu lions" on the opposite sides of the street that greet visitors). They usually have special inscriptions in Chinese. Historically, these gateways were donated to a particular city as a gift from the Republic of China government (such as Chinatown, San Francisco) and business organizations—an exception is long-neglected Chinatown in Havana, Cuba, which received materials for its paifang from the People's Republic of China as part of Chinatown's gradual renaissance. Construction of these red arches was also financed by local financial contributions from the Chinatown community. Some span an entire intersection and some are smaller in height and width. Some paifang can be made of wood, masonry, or steel and may incorporate an elaborate or simple design.
However, some Chinatowns that still do not have the arch feature are considering installing one, such as the Chinatowns in the U.S. cities of Seattle and Houston and the Canadian city of Toronto, as these arches are believed to increase tourist traffic. Additionally, work is being done by the Chinese community of London, United Kingdom, to promote a newer, more authentic Chinese arch on Wardour Street—as opposed to existing gwei lo versions present on Gerrard Street (pictured above)—in Chinatown, London. London's Chinatown now has an official website Chinatown London
Many major metropolitan areas with Chinatowns have bilingual street signs in Chinese and the language of the adopted country. Other public services are sometimes bilingual also (for example, banking machines; the Calgary Police Service began adding Chinese characters to patrol vehicles assigned to Chinatown in the 1980s to increase ties to the community).
Most Chinatowns are centered on food and hence Chinatowns worldwide are usually popular destinations for various ethnic Chinese and increasingly, other Asian cuisines such as Vietnamese, Thai, and Malaysian. Some Chinatowns such as Singapore have their localized style of Chinese cuisine. Restaurants serve many Chinatowns both as a major economic component and social gathering places. In the Chinatowns in the western countries, restaurant work may be the only type of employment available for poorer immigrants, especially those who cannot converse fluently in the language of the adopted country. Most Chinatowns generally have a range of authentic and touristy restaurants.
San Francisco's Chinatown retains many historic restaurants, including those established from the 1910s to the 1950s, although some that lasted for generations have shut in recent years and others have modernized their menus. Many Chinatown eateries from that era specialized in American Chinese cuisine (or, depending on where they were located, Canadian Chinese cuisine, Chinese Cuban cuisine, etc.), especially chop suey and chow mein. They often used gaudy neon lighting to attract non-Chinese customers, large red doors, Chinese paper lanterns, and zodiac placemats. Often these restaurants had English-language signs written in a typeface intended to appear stereotypically "Chinese" by being composed of strokes similar to those in hanzi writing.
Generally, restaurants serving authentic Chinese food primarily to immigrant customers have never conformed to these Chinatown stereotypes. Because of ethnic Chinese immigration and the expanded palate of many contemporary cultures, the remaining American Chinese and Canadian Chinese cuisine restaurants are seen as anachronisms but remain popular and profitable. In many Chinatowns, there are now many large, authentic Cantonese seafood restaurants, restaurants specializing in other varieties of Chinese cuisine such as Hakka cuisine, Szechuan cuisine, Shanghai cuisine, etc., and small restaurants with delis.
Cantonese seafood restaurants (海鮮酒家, pronounced in Cantonese as hoy seen jau ga) typically use a large dining room layout, have ornate designs, and specialize in seafood such as expensive Chinese-style lobsters, crabs, prawns, clams, and oysters, all kept live in tanks until preparation. They also offer the delicacy of shark fin soup. Some seafood restaurants may also offer dim sum in the morning through the early afternoon hours as Chinese-speaking female waiters announce the names of dishes whilst pushing steamy carts (Britisher: trolleys) of food and other pastries across the restaurant. Despite the popularity of dim sum brunch among ethnic Chinese and often crowded and very chatty atmosphere of the dining rooms, they are generally considered loss leaders. These restaurants are also used for weddings, banquets, and other special events.
These types of restaurants flourished and became in vogue in Hong Kong during the 1960s and subsequently began opening in various Chinatowns overseas. Owing to their higher menu prices and greater amount of investment capital required to open and manage one (due to higher levels of staffing needed), they tend to be more common in Chinatowns and satellite communities in developed countries and in fairly affluent Chinese immigrant communities, notably in Australia, Canada, and the United States, where they have received significant population of Hong Kong Chinese émigrés. Poorer immigrants usually cannot start these kinds of restaurants, although they too are employed in them. There are generally fewer of them in the older Chinatowns; for example, they are practically non-existent in Vancouver's Chinatown, but more are found in its suburbs such as Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. Competition between these restaurants is often fierce; hence owners of seafood restaurants hire and even "steal" well-rounded chefs, many of whom are from Hong Kong.
Also, Chinese barbecue deli restaurants , called siu laap (燒臘) and sometimes called a "noodle house" (麵家, mein ga) in Cantonese, are generally low-key and serve less expensive fare such as wonton noodles (or wonton mein), chow fun (炒粉, stir-fry rice noodles), Yeung Chow fried rice (揚州炒飯), and rice porridge or congee, known as juk in Cantonese Chinese. They also tend to have displays of whole pre-cooked roasted ducks and suckling pigs hanging on their windows, a common feature in most Chinatowns worldwide and in which Chinatowns are widely known for. These delis also serve barbecue pork (叉燒, cha siu), chicken feet and other Chinese-style items less welcome to the typical Western palate. Food is usually intended for takeaway (American: take-out). Some of these Chinatown restaurants sometimes have the reputation of being "greasy spoons" and reputation for poor service. Nonetheless, with their low prices, they are still patronized by both Chinese and any other customers on a budget.
To adapt to local tastes, the best Chinese Mexican-style Cantonese cuisine is said to be found in Mexicali's Chinatown (or La Chinesca in its local Spanish) or the Chinese Peruvian cuisine in the Barrio Chino of Lima.
Vietnamese immigrants, both ethnic Chinese and non-Chinese, have opened restaurants in many Chinatowns, serving Vietnamese pho beef noodle soups and Franco-Vietnamese sandwiches. Some immigrants have also started restaurants serving Teochew Chinese cuisine. Some Chinatowns old and new may also contain several pan-Asian restaurants offering a variety of Asian noodles under one roof.
Besides restaurants, the Chinatowns of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Singapore are noted for their street vendors selling local-style Chinese food from carts and stalls. They are also known as hawker stands and many have developed into hawker centers.
As with the restaurant trade, grocery stores and seafood markets serve a key function in Chinatown economies, and these stores sell Chinese ingredients to such restaurants. Such markets are wholesalers. Chinatown grocers and markets are often characterized by sidewalk vegetable and fruit stalls – a quintessential image of Chinatowns – and also sell a variety of grocery items imported from East Asia (chiefly Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea) and Southeast Asia (principally Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia). For example, most Chinatown markets stock items such as sacks of Thai jasmine rice, Chinese chrysanthemum and oolong teas, bottles of oyster sauce, rice vermicelli, Hong Kong soybean beverages, Malaysian snack items, Taiwanese rice crackers, and Japanese seaweed and Chinese specialties such as black duck eggs (often used in rice porridge), bok choy and water chestnuts. These markets may also sell fish (especially tilapia) and other seafood items, which are kept alive in aquariums, for Chinese and other Asian cuisine dishes. Until recently, these items generally could not be found outside of the Chinatown enclaves, although since the 1970s Asian supermarkets have proliferated in the suburbs of North America and Australia, competing strongly with the old Chinatown markets.
These businesses also sell red, wooden Buddhist altars and small statues for worship. Per Chinese custom, an offering of oranges are usually placed in front of the statue in the altar. Some altars are stacked atop each other. These altars may be found in many Chinatown businesses.
A major component of many Chinatowns is the family benevolent association, which provides some degree of aid to immigrants. These associations generally provide social support, religious services, death benefits (members' names in Chinese are generally enshrined on tablets and posted on walls), meals, and recreational activities for ethnic Chinese, especially for older Chinese migrants. Membership in these associations can be based on members sharing a common Chinese surname or belonging to a common clan, spoken Chinese dialect, specific village, region or country of origin, and so on. Many have their own facilities.
Some examples include San Francisco's prominent Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (中華總會館), aka Chinese Six Companies, and Los Angeles' Southern California Teochew Association. The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association is among the largest umbrella groups of benevolent associations in the North America, which branches in several Chinatowns. Politically, the CCBA has traditionally been aligned with the Kuomintang and the Republic of China.
The London Chinatown Chinese Association is active in Chinatown, London. Paris has an institution in the Association des Résidents en France d'origine indochinoise and it servicing overseas Chinese immigrants in Paris who were born in the former French Indochina.
Traditionally, Chinatown-based associations have also been aligned on ethnic Chinese business interests, such as restaurant, grocery, and laundry (antiquated) associations in Chinatowns in North America. In Chicago's Chinatown, the On Leong Merchants Association was active.
In addition, some streets of Chinatowns are closed off for parades, Chinese acrobatics and martial arts demonstrations, street festivals, and carnival rides—this is dependent on the promoters or organizers of the events. Other festivals may also be held in a parking lot/car park, local park, or school grounds within Chinatown.
Dragon and lion dances are performed in Chinatown every Chinese New Year, particularly to scare off evil spirits and bring good fortune to the community. They are also performed to celebrate a grand opening of a new Chinatown business, such as a restaurant or bank.
Ironically, many lion and dragon dances are considered more preserved in true form in Chinatowns than in China itself. This discrepancy is attributed to the fact that traditional Chinese customs, including lion and dragon dances, were unable to flourish during the political and social instabilities of Imperial China under rule of the Qing Dynasty and were almost eliminated completely under the communist order of the People's Republic of China under Chairman Mao Zedong. However, due to the migration of Chinese all over the world (particularly Southeast Asia), the dances were continually practiced by overseas Chinese and performed in Chinatowns.
Ceremonial wreaths and leafy green plants with red-coloured ribbons strewn across are also usually placed in front of new Chinatown businesses by well-wishers (particularly family members, wholesalers, community organizations, and so on), to assure future success.
Newer arrivals of Chinese immigrants—from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia—generally ignored the older Chinatowns that were established by the earlier immigrants. Political instabilities and upheavals in East Asia during the 1970s and 1980s, caused an influx of new immigration. Additionally, investors and developers were taking advantage of major real estate opportunities. For example, developers have built up strip malls. Satellite Chinese communities outside old Chinatowns are especially common in Pacific Rim anglosphere countries of Australia, Canada, and United States.
Later waves of immigrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan have arrived with comparative affluence and may have no need for the benevolent associations described above. These communities contain restaurants and stores but in sprawled out fashion (some in suburban form), rather than in cramped conditions. They are not called "Chinatowns" per se, but serve as quasi-Chinatowns. In place of the term "Chinatown", some of these business districts have earned nicknames which correspond to the cities of the immigrants' origins, such as "Little Taipei" (Monterey Park, California, United States), "Little Shanghai" (Ashfield, New South Wales, Australia), and "Little Hong Kong" (Richmond, British Columbia, Canada).
These new forms of Chinese retail are typically to be located in the cities of Australia, Canada, and the United States and serve as newer centers of Chinese activity. As a result, some cities that received significant amounts of recent Chinese—namely San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, and Sydney—have one main Chinatown (often of historic value) and an alternative center of retail and cultural activities in outlying communities.
|People's Republic of China ("Mainlander")||Market reforms in Communist China allowing for migration, growing social stratification forcing poor to seek to their fortunes elsewhere (some as illegal immigrants), and elites such as relatives of leaders like Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin settling in the West in order to obtain Western nationalities before returning to the mainland.|
|Republic of China (Taiwan) ("Waisheng Ren")||Pro-Kuomintang Chinese perceive they did not belong in the island of Taiwan as the Taiwanese localization movement gathered full steam after Chiang Ching-kuo's death, but could not expect return to the still-Communist mainland China either, so went to the West.|
|Hong Kong ("Hongkonger")||Fear by businessmen and opponents of Chinese Communists of implications of 1997 handover of Hong Kong from Britain to Communist China|
|Vietnam (Hoa)||Persecution of Vietnamese-born ethnic Chinese by the Communist Vietnamese government; left Vietnam as impoverished boat people|
Flushing, Queens, New York (New York City)
In the 1970s and 1980s, Flushing was settled by an influx of Chinese immigrants from Taiwan—who have largely avoided Chinatown, Manhattan for the most part. The Chinese business district is located on Roosevelt Avenue. Today, the community is not exclusively Taiwanese/Chinese but also contains an adjacent Korean area.
Rowland Heights, California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles County)
Since the 1990s, many skilled Taiwanese immigrants moved out of Monterey Park to wealthier affluent suburbs. Now Taiwanese call Rowland Heights as Little Taipei. There are many Taiwanese based stores located in the city, however, there is also an increasing presence of Mainlander Chinese.
Cabramatta, New South Wales, Australia (Sydney)
A new Chinese retail district was formed by ethnic Chinese refugees from Vietnam in the heavily working-class Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, but it also services the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian communities in general. This community contains a Chinese paifang that was built in 1989.
Hurstville, New South Wales, Australia (Sydney)
In the 1990s, Mainlander and Hong Kong immigrants continued to migrate to Australia, following the Tiananmen Square Massacare of 1989. Today, it is the largest Chinese community in Australia with 40% of its residents with Chinese Ancestry. The number of China-born and Chinese people continue to grow at a rapid rate due to increased immigration, etc. This suburb is generally a middle-class suburb. Chinese that migrate to Hurstville are normally well-off and settle a normal lifestyle.
Eastwood, New South Wales, Australia (Sydney)
Originally occupied by Italians and Greeks, following the Tiananmen Square Massacare of 1989, large numbers of Mainlander and Hong Kong immigrants continued to migrate, along with South Koreans. Today, the suburb has continued to expand with Hong Kong and Mainlander style groceries and cuisines. Along with Hurstville, the number of Chinese people continue to grow at a rapid rate. It is generally a middle-upper class suburb populated with much more skilled immigrant workers. Generally, those who migrate to Eastwood come and live permanently due to its convenience, the wealthiness compared to other Chinese communities, or, people decide to move off to Affluent areas such as Carlingford, West Ryde and Epping, but still continue to shop at Eastwood.
Sunnybank, Queensland, Australia (Brisbane)
The Chinese retail district of Sunnybank is in the southern suburbs of Brisbane approximately 17km from the downtown area. The suburb emerged in the early 1990s and has become a highly populated Asian community. Today the area has hundreds of Asian stores and restaurants.
Richmond, British Columbia, Canada (Vancouver)
Hong Kong Chinese immigrants settled in the Vancouver area in the 1980s and 1990s. The shopping malls are located upon No. 3 Road (in an area called the Golden Village) in the fairly affluent suburb of Richmond, which have replaced the cultural influence of the poorer Chinatown in downtown Vancouver.
Markham, Ontario, Canada (Greater Toronto Area)
Many Chinese strip plazas are foundalong Highway 7 and Steeles (particularly around Steeles and Kennedy). The construction of Pacific Mall (North America's biggest Chinese-theme mall) in 1997 has attracted visitors from Toronto and abroad.
Cyrildene, South Africa (in Johannesburg) As an example of a growing satellite Chinatown outside the Pacific rim, immigrants from Fujian, China have set up shops in the newer Chinese enclave in Cyrildene (Derrick Ave), an eastern suburb of Johannesburg. It compares favouraby to the much faded Cantonese Chinatown in the CBD.
In Chinese, Chinatown is usually called, in Mandarin, Tángrénjiē (唐人街 Tong yan gai in Cantonese, Hong ngin gai in Toisan, and Tong ngin gai in Hakka), literally meaning "Tang people's street(s)". The Tang Dynasty was a zenith of the Chinese civilization, after which some Chinese--especially in the South--call themselves. Some Chinatowns are indeed just one single street, such as the relatively short Fisgard Street in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada or the sprawling 4-mile (6.4-km) new Chinatown in Houston, Texas. However, most Chinatown are in fact multiple intersecting streets.
A more modern Chinese name is Huábù (華埠 Chinese City), used in the semi-official Chinese translations of some cities' documents and signs. Bù, pronounced sometimes as fù, usually means seaport; but in this sense, it means city or town. Likewise, Tong yan fau (唐人埠 "Tang people's town") is also used in Cantonese nowadays. The literal word-for-word translation of Chinatown--Zhōngguó Chéng (中國城)--is rarely used in Chinese.
In Francophone regions (such as France and Quebec), Chinatown is often referred to as le quartier chinois (the Chinese Quarter; plural: les quartiers chinois) and the Spanish-language term is usually el barrio chino (the Chinese neighborhood; plural: los barrios chinos), used in Spain and Latin America. (However, barrio chino or its Catalan cognate barri xines do not always refer to a Chinese neighborhood: these are also common terms for a disreputable district with drugs and prostitution, and often no connection to the Chinese.). The Vietnamese term for Chinatown is Khu người Hoa, due to the prevalence of the Vietnamese language in Chinatowns of Paris, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Montréal as ethic Chinese from Vietnam have set up shop in them. Other countries also have idiosyncratic names for Chinatown in local languages and in Chinese; however, some local terms may not necessarily translate as Chinatown. For example, Singapore's tourist-centric Chinatown is called in local Singaporean Mandarin Niúchēshǔi (牛车水), which literally means "Ox-cart water" from the Malay 'Kreta Ayer' in reference to the water carts that used to ply the area. Some languages have adopted the English-language term, such as Dutch, German, and Bahasa Malaysia. In Malaysia, the term Chinatown is named under administrative reason. Instead, the name Chee Chong Kai (茨厂街）is preferred and agreed upon by the locals. Chee in Hakka means tapioca, chong means factory and kai means street. This is originated from a factory that was set up by Yap Ah Loy, a rich Kapitan (a Chinese immigrant that has administrative and political power under the British rule) that made tapioca. Chee Chong Kai is also called jalan Petaling or "Petaling Street".
Several alternate English names for Chinatown include China Town (generally used in British and Australian English), The Chinese District, Chinese Quarter and China Alley (an antiquated term used primarily in several rural towns in the western United States for a Chinese community; some of these are now historical sites). In the case of Lillooet, British Columbia, Canada, China Alley was a parallel commercial street adjacent to the town's Main Street, enjoying a view over the river valley adjacent and also over the main residential part of Chinatown, which was largely of adobe construction. All traces of Chinatown and China Alley there have disappeared, despite a once large and prosperous community.
Main articles: Chinatown, London, Chinatown, Manchester, Chinatown, Liverpool and Chinatown, Birmingham Chinatowns in the UK are not heavily residential, the Chinese in the UK are relatively dispersed, and do not form ethnic enclaves as in many other countries, although the highest number are to be found in large cities and in the South-East. The United Kingdom has several Chinatowns, including the largest one in central London, located in the Soho area, established in the 1950s and 1960s. Other UK Chinatowns are found in the English cities of Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, the Scottish cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Welsh capital Cardiff and a growing population of Chinese immigrants are present in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
There are plans to revive London's original Chinese district in Limehouse as part of the wider regeneration of East London. This area was bombed out during the Blitz in the Second World War causing a relocation of the few ethnic Chinese who had lived there to other areas.
Other Chinese-run businesses can be found in other parts of London, e.g. in suburban Croydon. At present, they consist mainly of a shopping centre with a major Chinese British supermarket chain as the anchor. One such centre in Croydon is called China Town Mall and has been built complete with Chinese-style architecture and gateway. Oriental City in Colindale, boasts a supermarket, a large food court of E/SE Asian cuisines, several other restaurants, a games arcade, herbal shops, masseurs, and a cultural performance space. Queensway, though a cosmopolitan blend of many cultures, also has a sizable Chinese presence and a substantial cluster of Chinese restaurants and other businesses.
Manchester Manchester's Chinatown on Faulkner Street is the second largest in Britain after London's Soho Chinatown. The Chinese British population, many of whom are immigrants from former British-ruled Hong Kong, has especially settled in the Greater Manchester area. However, Hong Kong immigration to the United Kingdom has leveled off over the years and there has been a rise in Mainland Chinese immigration to the country.Birmingham The Chinese Quarter is an area of Birmingham, United Kingdom.
It first emerged as a cluster of Chinese community organizations, social clubs, and businesses in the 1960s centred around Hurst Street, as a result of post-World War II migration from Hong Kong. The Chinese quarter was officially recognized in the 1980s. It is known for its Chinese restaurants; for the parade which is held there each year to celebrate the Chinese New Year; for the Birmingham Hippodrome; and for being the location of the headquarters of Wing Yip.
To the rear of the area is the Irish quarter which is located next to a large supermarket selling Chinese produce.Newcastle The Chinatown in Newcastle was primarily based on Stowell Street, but has expanded in recent years with many Chinese businesses in the surrounding area. The Chinatown incorporates the area from Stowell Street to Westgate Road. According to the BBC, Newcastle's Chinatown is also undergoing regeneration. A gateway costing £160,000 (€240,000) has recently been constructed by Mainland Chinese engineers as part of the plans.Liverpool
The Chinatown in Liverpool in the Merseyside area is on Duke Street and is home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe. The arch is the largest of its kind outside of China. It has been under regeneration.Leeds The Chinatown in Leeds is small in comparison to other Chinatowns. It is situated at the northern end of Vicar Lane near Eastgate to the east of the city centre. Controversy arose when plans were drawn up for a shopping centre called Eastgate Quarters to be built over parts of the Chinatown. There are also plans to build a Chinatown arch. Sheffield Sheffield has no official Chinatown although London Road, Highfield is the centre of the Sheffield Chinese community. There are Chinese restaurants, supermarkets and community stores and home of the Sheffield Chinese Community Centre. The Sheffield Chinese community is pressing for the street to be formally labelled Sheffield's Chinatown.
Belfast in Northern Ireland has a large Chinese immigrant population. Although there is no formal Chinatown, the area on the street of Donegall Pass and Dublin Road exhibits the properties of many Chinatowns.
In 2003, the city council of Aberdeen approved plans for a new Chinatown in the northern part of the city.
There is one such mall going up in 2006 in Manila in the Philippines, in which the project is called "Neo Chinatown" and is to be developed in conjunction with Filipino Chinese and Mainland Chinese businessmen.