Chinese Chinese American Immigration, China, United States discussed on The Takeaway
Link a California girl went on to great success as an actress in Hong Kong. Joining us to talk about the Chinese Chinese American Immigration of the Twentieth Century Is Charlotte Brooks a professor at Baruch College and author of American Exodus. Hi Charlotte Hiran. Why did Chinese Americans leave the United States in the early twentieth century? Well it is sort of a flip of what we assume was the normal pattern where European repeat immigrants were pouring into the United States by the millions looking for upward mobility and security and economic stability Chinese Americans. At this point in the people I wrote about they were American born people they had. US citizenship but their parents who were by enlarge merchants. They couldn't become come. US citizens they had come to the United States as one of the few groups that could still immigrated from China under the Chinese Exclusion Act. These merchants came Seeking the same thing. The Europeans sought economic stability and success but their children born in the United States faced racism in so many areas of their. They're life they couldn't live where they wanted to live. They couldn't get jobs. Outside of a very narrow economic niche economy of restaurants and hand laundries and souvenir stores they face downward mobility in American society. So many of them began to consider taking their skills especially to those who had been educated in American universities to China which after the turn of the century was seeking such people to try to modernize build infrastructure and develop by more modern economic sector. So how many people are we talking about. You know it's A. It's a difficult number to trace over time I've used a mix of immigration statistics and All kinds of documentation in the about nineteen hundred to nineteen sixteen. We're talking about five thousand dozen people which doesn't sound like much but it was about a quarter of the Chinese American citizen population which is actually if you think about that. Proportion is extraordinary Later on after about nineteen nineteen another five thousand to nine thousand emigrated which was about half of the actual native born Chinese American population. So some of these people were generations removed from China. How some of these people fair in a country they'd never or lived in before you know there were two groups of immigrants that I profiled One group I call the modernizers because they took their American educations ends and they went all over China in the first years of their immigration. And they go to of notice and they had a great deal of prestige and so for them although they were culturally They were often struggling to the language. Many of them spoke the dialect of the south but the prestige and wealth that they gained was a compensation there was another group a lot of people who went to the south with their parents at networks. They were merchants and students and for the students. Since this was a real struggle they were put in village schools. They didn't really speak the language they struggled. And eventually this infrastructure developed of special schools for Cheney's Americans and other ethnic Chinese from overseas to come to sell China and studying these special schools where they often studied in English in in the second wave of emigrants by the nineteen twenties and especially by the thirties. You have large numbers of people coming from the United States to China to study at universities in China where the medium of instruction was English which is not really what we assume happens? It was a really a kind of a way to accommodate this group of people. This kind of hybrid in between society that developed on China's coast on. I remember when I was when I was ten. My family moved from Houston to India and we just took like crazy amounts of like you know better home and garden back issues. Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the payroll these books and we kind of obsessed with these things when we lived there we we we were taken away did did many of these immigrants bring the American culture with them overseas. You know it's funny South China because there had been so many immigration flows over the years actually had this sort of market get in for an American products and Hong Kong. Certainly did in Shanghai certainly did a lot of Chinese Americans went to Shanghai worked on an English language. Language paper that was owned by Chinese modeled off of American publications and so you have the sort of hybrid culture that developed around these people and eventually other Chinese have studied abroad I it's it's quite distinct from other Chinese cultures. That are you know developed in post revolution. China China one thousand nine hundred. Nineteen tents did this pattern of immigration have any impact on U S Chinese relations at the time yet became a real sticking point It varies various times and one reason was that foreigners in China especially Europeans Americans and Japanese had the special status that they had really wrenched away from a success of Chinese governments with a series of unequal treaties That there were places in China that were actually controlled by seeded the two western powers. Most people don't know that parts of Shanghai were governed policed by some the Shanghai Municipal Council which was foreign controlled old There is something called extraterritoriality. meaning that if you're from a foreign country that had the particular kind of agreement with China if you committed you did a crime on Chinese soil. You couldn't be tried in a Chinese court. You tried in your own nations courts which is kind of an extraordinary thing but what this meant up for. Chinese Americans was that the series of Chinese governments claimed that Chinese Americans were Chinese citizens and the US government was supposed to protect you. And you were supposed to have extra territoriality which four canny Chinese Americans could be a real opportunity. You could apply for jobs that were only open the Chinese citizens but if you've gotten to scrape you could clay extraterritoriality And there was a lot of wrangling. But there's also such deep racism in the State Eight Department at this point that by nineteen twenty five twenty six the US government simply washed. Its hands of China's America's and said while they're in China we will not not protect them many of them end up returning to the US. My right yeah. Most most that I've followed so that return might suggest somewhat hopefully believe that the US actually solved a problem of its own making but is it fair to say that what really happened was war. The beginning of World War Two in Asia you had had a massive outflow of Chinese Americans. They did not actually follow the nationals government inland when it retreated in the face of Japanese advance and in a sense they voted with their feet. This wasn't about loyalty to anybody. It wasn't they weren't loyal but it was about safety security and going someplace where there was enough food safety so in nineteen forty six. You see something like two thousand Chinese Americans pouring out of south China And of course after World War Two things did change for Chinese Americans. You know not quickly enough. The Chinese exclusion after it was finally repealed in nineteen forty three and because of labor needs needs and military needs. Chinese Americans were able to get jobs. that they had never gotten before And that made an impact on Chinese American citizens who are living in China when they see Chinese Americans wearing the uniform of the United States being treated with respect in positions that before the war would have been impossible so when they have to make a choice in forty five forty six hundred and the communist took over the mainland many of them make the choice to return. Charlie Brooks is a professor at Baruch College and author of American Exodus. Charlotte thank you so I think that's our show for today. Thanks so much for listening. I'm a ruined vinegar. Paul in for Tanzania Vega. 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