Fuzhounese Americans

Fuzhounese Americans
hok-ciŭ mī-guók-nè̤ng
Fúzhōu měiguó rén
Total population
150,000 300,000 (2016)
Regions with significant populations
New York City (纽约市)
Fuzhounese, Eastern Min, Standard Mandarin
Buddhism, Taoism, Syncretism, Christianity, Confucianism, Atheism

Fuzhounese Americans, also known as Hokchiu or Fuzhou Americans or imprecisely Fujianese, are Chinese American people of Fuzhou descent, in particular from Changle.[1] A disproportionate amount of Chinese restaurant workers in America are of Fuzhou descent.[1][2] There are also a number of Fuzhounese illegal immigrants in the United States who are smuggled in by organizations like the Snakeheads.[3][4][5][6] Hokchiu people helped develop the Chinatown Buses system, which originated as a means to transport restaurant workers from New York City to various parts of the East Coast of the United States.[3] They are almost singularly concentrated on the East Coast unlike other Chinese Americans and Asian American groups.


People have immigrated to America from Fuzhou as early as the Qing dynasty period. Some of these people were students who, after after completing their studies returned to their home country.

After the lifting of emigration restriction from the People's Republic of China in the 1980s, people began leaving the Fuzhou area. Illegal immigration from Fujian province peaked at around 8,000 per month in June 1992.[7] For the second half of 1992 illegal immigration it was about 2500 per month. Migrants were mostly men, but in 1992 around 20-30% of them were women and children. These arrivals were mostly unskilled, agricultural workers. About 80% of these people came from Changle County.[8]



Many Chinese restaurant owners and workers are from Fuzhou.[9] The Chinatown buses system originated as a means to transport workers from New York City to various parts of the South and East Coast. Restaurant owners usually adopted the established American Chinese cuisine, which is somewhat based on Cantonese cuisine, rather than serve Fujian cuisine. These restaurants are usually all-you-can eat buffets and take-out restaurants.


Many Fuzhounese people also work in the Chinatown garment industry.

New York City

Hokchiu people in the US are almost singularly concentrated in the New York metropolitan area, unlike other Chinese Americans and Asian American groups. The number of Fuzhounese in New York City and nationwide is notably difficult to enumerate precisely, since as many as as many as fifty percent of Fuzhounese immigrants are undocumented and may be reluctant to respond to census takers.[9] One estimate had put the number of Fuzhou people in New York City at over 70,000;[10] however, Einhorn in 1994 estimated that as many as 100,000 Fujianese were living in New York at the time and that an additional 10,000 were entering New York each year. Data from the 2005-2009 American Community Survey suggests there are around 1,450 Fuzhou speakers in the United States, although the number is likely to be far greater as most respondents simply wrote "Chinese".

Manhattan's Chinatown and Lower East Side

During the 1980s, growing numbers of Fuzhou immigrants started arriving into Manhattan's Chinatown. Due to the fact that Manhattan's Chinatown was mostly Cantonese speaking at the time, many could not integrate well into the enclave and as a result, they began to settle on East Broadway and east of The Bowery, which at the time was not fully developed as being part of Chinatown and was rather an overlapping enclave of Chinese, Latinos, and Jewish populations. Many of the earlier Fuzhou immigrants learned to speak Cantonese in order to get a job and interact with the then Cantonese dominated Chinatown.[11][12][13] Slowly, the Little Fuzhou enclave emerged and then it became fully Chinese populated and fully part of Manhattan's Chinatown. However, it resulted in Manhattan's Chinatown becoming subdivided into the older established Cantonese Chinatown in the western portion of Manhattan's Chinatown and newly established Fuzhou Chinatown in the eastern portion of Manhattan's Chinatown.

Hokchiu people have founded business organizations such as the Fuzhou-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry.[14] In 1998, businesspeople from Changle founded the Changle American Association, which has become one of the most influential community organizations.

Recent Decline

However, due to the gentrification situation going on in Manhattan's Chinatown since the 2000s, the Chinese population and businesses are declining and moving away and the Fuzhou immigrants are also part of this decline as well. Many of Chinese in Manhattan's Chinatown are relocating to the newer Chinese enclaves in Brooklyn. However, the Fuzhous that are moving out are mostly relocating to Sunset Park, which now has the largest Fuzhou community in all of New York City, while the Cantonese are moving to Bensonhurst's newer smaller growing Chinese enclaves, which are more primarily Cantonese populated.

Brooklyn's Sunset Park Chinatown

Like Manhattan's Chinatown in the past, Brooklyn's Sunset Park Chinatown was primarily Cantonese, but was much smaller and less developed unlike Manhattan's Chinatown, which already had been very large and developed. With the gentrification and lack of available apartment units in Manhattan's Chinatown that came in the 2000s, the growing Fuzhou population shifted to Brooklyn's Sunset Park Chinatown to seek affordable housing and jobs. The shift of the Fuzhou immigration to Brooklyn's Sunset Park Chinatown dramatically expanded the Chinese enclave so largely that it is now overwhelmingly Fuzhou populated and has far surpassed the size of the Fuzhou enclave in Manhattan's Chinatown. In addition, the Brooklyn Sunset Park Chinatown has overall surpassed the size of Manhattan's Chinatown.

Unlike in Brooklyn's Sunset Park Chinatown, where the Fuzhou population has managed to dominate the whole enclave and still quickly growing, the Fuzhou enclave in Manhattan's Chinatown only managed to occupy the eastern portion while the western portion of Manhattan's Chinatown still remains Cantonese. However, the overall Cantonese and Fuzhou population in Manhattan's Chinatown is on the decline.


Political views

Compared to previous Chinese immigrants, Fuzhou Americans tend to have a more favorable view of the People's Republic of China.[15] Fuzhounese people organized celebrations for events like the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong and the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, whereas many other ethnic Han Chinese in America have a less favorable view of these events.


While the majority of the Fuzhou population in the US came directly from Fuzhou, some Fuzhou Americans have also descended from the Hokchiu (Hokchia) diaspora in Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia and Singapore.

"Left behind" children

Some Fuzhounese people give birth to children in the US, and then send their young children back to their hometowns because they are unable to afford raising their children in the US.[16] Because of jus soli laws these children automatically gain American citizenship. These children are called "left-behind" Americans and are usually taken care of by relatives.[17] They are sometimes reunited with their parents in the US once they have reached to attend grade school. According to the Fuzhou Overseas Chinese Association, about 10,000 children are now “left behind” in Fuzhou.

Notable people

See also


  1. 1 2
  2. "Left-behind American children in China". Offbeat China. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  3. 1 2 Radden, Patrick (2008-04-09). "China's Great Migration: ""Little America"". Slate.com. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  4. Vivian Yee; Jeffrey E. Singer (2013-12-29). "The Death of a Family, and an American Dream". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  5. Chin, Ko-lin (1998). Smuggled Chinese: Clandestine Immigration to the United States.
  6. From Fujian to New York: Understanding the New Chinese Immigration
  7. Zhao, Xiaojian. The New Chinese America : Class, Economy, and Social Hierarchy. p. 2010.
  8. 1 2 Kenneth J. Guest. "From Mott Street to East Broadway : Fuzhounese Immigrants and the Revitalization of New York's Chinatown" (PDF). Baruch.cuny.edu. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  9. "Fuzhounese in the New York Metro Area" (PDF). Unreachednewyork.com. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  10. Zhao, Xiaojian. The New Chinese America: Class, Economy, and Social Hierarchy. Rutgers University Press. p. 114.
  11. Lai, H. Mark. Becoming Chinese American: A History of Communities and Institutions.
  12. Liang, 1 Zai; Ye, Wenzhen (2001). From Fujian to New York: Understanding the New Chinese Immigration. The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  13. Zhao, Xiaojian. The New Chinese America: Class, Economy, and Social Hierarchy. Rutgers University Press. p. 115.
  14. Becoming Chinese American
  15. "Children in Need - Little Americans in Fuzhou". Childreninneedclub.com. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  16. Susan Sachs (2001-07-22). "FUJIAN, U.S.A.: A special report; Within Chinatown, a Slice of Another China". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
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