Chinatowns in Asia

Chinatowns in Asia are widespread with a large concentration of overseas Chinese in East Asia and Southeast Asia and ethnic Chinese whose ancestors came from southern China - particularly the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, and Hainan - and settled in countries such as Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and Korea centuries ago—starting as early as the Tang Dynasty, but mostly notably in the 17th through the 19th centuries (during the reign of the Qing Dynasty), and well into the 20th century.

During the years of European colonialism in Southeast Asia, many Chinese arrived in these countries to find work, often causing ethnic tension between them and the native population. These ethnic Chinese arrived from southern mainland China and were mainly Chinese people of Cantonese (Vietnam), Hakka (India, East Timor, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma / Myanmar, Brunei), Hokkien (Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Myanmar), and Teochew/Chaozhou (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam ) stock and pockets of Hainanese, Hokchew and Henghwa in some countries.

The largest Chinatown in Asia is located in Yokohama, Japan. (See Yokohama Chinatown). These early groups did not identify as hailing from Mainland China, but from their subregion of origin; for example, the Cantonese did not relate to the Hakka people.

Binondo, located in Manila, Philippines is considered by many to be the oldest existing Chinatown in the world, having been officially established in 1594 by the Spanish colonial government in the Philippines that set off the area as a permanent settlement for Chinese who had converted to Christianity. (A separate area, then called the Parian, was alloted for uncoverted Chinese.)

The ethnic Chinese represent a large minority population in most of these countries—with Singapore being the exception where Chinese-origin Singaporeans form the majority of the population. Of all overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, however, the ethnic Chinese in Vietnam tend to retain the strongest ties to the Chinese culture and language and, hence, remain relatively isolated from the ethnic Vietnamese majority. Chinese Indonesians and Chinese Filipinos have adopted to Indonesian and Filipino ways, respectively. Thai Chinese have generally assimilated into the larger Thai population.

Read more about Chinatowns In Asia:  Discrimination and Anti-Chinese Sentiment

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