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The Changing Face of Chinese in America

Talk on Oct. 27, 2012 at the U. S. China Peoples' Friendship Association Western Region Conference, San Gabriel, CA. An overview of the increasing diversity in the backgrounds of "Chinese in America" and some implications of such changes.
by

John Jung

on 24 July 2014

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Transcript of The Changing Face of Chinese in America

Chinese taking too many slots at prestige universities

Too many jobs are going to China
Curiosity (early 1800s)
Hostility (mid-1800s-1930s)
Acceptance (1940s-1950s)
Admiration (1960s-1980s)

Anxiety or Ambivalence (1990s-

(dates are very rough)
In 1990s
Taiwanese American
student clubs met resistance on some campuses by
Chinese American
clubs

Many did not 'assimilate,’ preferring their own subgroup

As
“Transnationals,”
had ties both here and in homeland

In early ‘90s as economy slowed,
reverse migration
occurred, but their families stayed in U.S.

The Changing Face of Chinese in America


John Jung




Western Regional Conference
U. S.–China People’s Friendship Association



San Gabriel, Ca.
October 27, 2012

Newest
Yellow Peril
[early 21st century]


Original Yellow Peril [late 19th century]
Chinese stealing white worker jobs

Yellow Peril of mid 20th century
Communist China
Enemy of U. S. in Korean conflict
Anti-Chinese Views in America

Societal Attitudes Toward Chinese
Children of
Guangdong
Immigrants:
Majority U. S.- born to working class parents
High assimilation, low Chinese literacy
Parent-child cultural conflicts, but...
Filial piety maintained

Children of
H. K., ROC, PRC
Immigrants
Majority not U. S.-born
Transnational outlook, bi-lingual with Chinese dominant
Many “parachute” kids from affluent parents
“fu er dai”
“spoiled rotten” kids
Changes in Generation Gaps
Tiananmen Square (1989) Set-back
U. S. Improved Relations with PRC


ABC youth gangs
formed in the early 1960’s to fend off attacks from non-Chinese outsiders

FOB youth gangs
for social and criminal activities

Merchants paid “protection money” to
FOB
gangs
Chinatown Youth Gangs
in 1950s and 60s

First waves of FOBs:
were poor, uneducated, “backwards”
looked down on by ABCs

But…“Fresh Off The Boat”
(FOBs) Chinese
Chinese-Americans suspected of Communist China ties

U.S. government attacked Chinese immigration networks

”Confession program” divided Chinese communities

Red China vs. Taiwan conflict harmed Chinese in America
In the 1950s
By 1949, Chinese in America Were Again Suspect
Inferior status of Chinese made children ashamed of appearance, status, and culture.

Adopted American values, personality traits, and social behaviors

Some weighed stay in U. S. as second-class citizens vs. move to China
Chinese Children in America
Sojourners faced hardship and prejudice

Low Assimilation

Remittances to family in China

Frugal lifestyle
Gam Saan Haak
(Gold Mountain Guests)

Bachelor Society, 1900s
Ignore Differences…
We Are All “Chinese”

Unite
To Fight Anti-Chinese Racism
That 'Harms' All
Chinese in America
To Debunk Harmful Stereotypes
Chinese do
not
all look alike ...
... nor are they all “academic whiz kids”


Some, but not all,
Chinese need ‘affirmative action’
Focus on Differences
Economic and Military Rise
Economic Power
Military Power
Investments in U. S.
Ethics and Moral Issues
Human Rights Violations
Contaminated Foods
Pirated software, knockoff products
Censorship
China As Threat to America
Rapid Increase in Political Power

Older
Guangdong Chinatowns
were closed residential communities ruled by strong ethnic organizations

Newer
Hong Kong and Taiwanese
have “Chinatowns” for ethnic consumer needs, but live in dispersed areas
Changes in Chinese Communities
Disconnect Between ABCs and FOBs
From David H. T. Wong, Escape to Gold Mountain
Impact of
The Changing Face
of Chinese in America

"Taiwanese Americans are easily overlooked as just an
“other”

among the many Asian ethnic groups."


Ho Chie Tsai, TaiwaneseAmerican.org

Are All of These "Chinese in America"



“CHINESE AMERICANS”?
1860s-1930s Sojourners (gam saan haak)
1920s- American Born Chinese (ABCs) ( jook sing)
1950s- Fresh off Boat (FOBs) Hong Kong family reunification
1960s- HB-1 Taiwan students and professionals
1970s- Taiwan 'parachute kids'
1970s- S.E. Asian ethnic Chinese refugees
1980s- Transnationals from PRC and ROC
1990s- Smuggled Chinese from Fujian

(Dates are very rough)
*
Number of Chinese* in America
About 250,000 Chinese intellectuals, scientists, and engineers came to the U. S. with HB-1 Visas

Many remained here to the benefit of the U.S.

Upper and middle class (Astronaut families) came for security for their businesses and children

Taiwanese Immigrants, 1970s


By the ‘60s, better acceptance of ABCs

Assimilated to American values and customs

Began to out-do Caucasians academically

Entered and succeeded in professions
American Born Chinese (ABCs)
1943 Exclusion Repeal Improved Attitudes
Exclusion & Expulsion
Guangdong Pioneers





Challenges For Chinese
in America
A Chinese Lament






Opening lines of an anonymous poem that continues .
..

... When we build our industries, you call us polluters.
... When we sell you goods, you blame us for global warming.
etc…






Affluent Chinese came to N. America as ‘insurance’
Over 70% skilled workers and business immigrants
Over 90% English proficient
Hong Kong Wave 2 ‘late 1990s’
But by 1970s,
.
A Chinese super villain, with ties to
Communist China, wanted to destroy the West
In 1930s, Racial Prejudice Denied
Jobs To Even Educated Chinese

Negative Images of Chinese
“American Beats Out Kwan”
Can’t A Chinese Be “American”?
Infamous 1998 MSNBC Headline
Where do you really come from?
How did you learn to speak English so well?
Sometimes, our own kind can be our worst enemy









Are Chinese To Be “Forever Foreign”?

“The Rise of Asian America”
“Provocative” Title of 2012 Pew Center Report
Groceries
Laundries







Restaurants

Primary Businesses

Chinese Population Increase ->
More Anti-Chinese
Years ~1990s-
Years ~1920s-1940s
(Fear increases hostility)
(Familiarity reduces fear)
Chinese Population Increase ->
Less Anti-Chinese
Contact hypothesis
Will Number of Chinese Affect Prejudice?
2011 Military hazing deaths of Harry Lew (lt) and Danny Chen (rt)
Vincent Chin 1982 hate crime murder victim
Wen Ho Lee, scientist falsely accused in 1999 of leaking
nuclear secrets to Red China
2012 Super Bowl political ad
Chinese in America Still Face Racism
Even in 2012

This tactic used against Jay Chen, an
ABC
Running For Congress in Hacienda Heights
All Chinese Look Alike
must
both
focus on
and
ignore
the changing 'face' of Chinese in America
By 1972 Led to More Immigration until…
Takeover

hypothesis
From 'Escape to Gold

Mountain' Courtesy
,
David Wong
Full transcript