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Patterns of Chinese Immigration to Hawaii

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According to the statistics, about 21 per cent of people who inhabited Hawaii were Chinese and they paid 21 per cent of all taxes in the country in 1899. Besides, Chinese quarter occupied almost a half of Honolulu in the end of the nineteenth century (Lum, 1988, p.116). All these figures demonstrate that Chinese community played important role in this country. Therefore, it is important to identify the immigration patterns and reasons of their emergence in Honolulu and the continental United States.

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Sandalwood was one of the primary reasons of Chinese moving to Hawaii. This raw material was in demand in their homeland since the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands in 1788. Few hundred of Chinese arrived in this country in search of it, then some of them returned, but another stayed. Moreover, certain number of immigrants became successful entrepreneurs. For example, Chun Fung, that was probably the first Chinese millionaire in Hawaii. Firstly, he engaged in rice and sugar industries and then began to work with merchandizing (Leong, 1988, p. 74).

The demand for cheap labor force on non-Chinese sugar plantations was the second reason of big immigration of Chinese. For instance, in 1851 two hundred workers came, and from 1895 to 1899 about 3000 laborers per year settled there (Leong, 1988, p.75).

Besides, representatives of this nation were interested in rice growing. Immigrants went to Hawaii with their own equipment, seeds and started partnership (Leong, 1988, p.76). Nevertheless, according to Leong (1988) this industry was in decline in 1914. In 1920, most of the families moved to Honolulu and rice industry stopped its existence.

Moreover, merchandizing was another aspect that attracted the attention of Chinese people. The merchants were more educated and enterprising than other workers. They opened their stores in Chinese quarters of Honolulu, Chicago and New York. Moreover, merchants worked in other spheres such as real estate, property management, and banking. For example, these immigrants opened Chinese American Bank (1916) and Liberty Bank (1022), which served not only Chinese, but also the other groups of people. However, after success in the beginning, their stores began to disappear in 1931, and in 1954, most of merchants of older times left their business to the children (Leong, 1988, p.81).

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Another feature of Chinese immigrants was their quite high level of education; especially this was common for the third generation that was born in the USA. For example, most of them had at least elementary education; other immigrants were lawyers, doctors, engineers etc. Descendents of merchants were even more qualified because of better finance. Many of them continued the business of their parents or started new companies in such spheres as real estate, insurance, investing etc (Leong, 1988, p. 88).

Therefore, Chinese immigrants had positive influence on Hawaii and the continental United States.  They started new business and, in general, developed American economy. However, it was not true about all of them. Those immigrants, who earned money on different plantations and returned to China clearly played smaller role in American life (Leong, 1988, p. 93).

Nevertheless, not all inhabitants of USA liked the fact that other nation became so powerful on their land. As result, lawmakers began to adopt new laws against Chinese since 1882. These documents regulated business of immigrants and entering the country. For example, Chinese laborers were banned to enter the country for a 10-year period (Lum, 1988, p.116). Immigrants clearly tried to fight with this discrimination, but only in 1943, these laws were repealed. Anyway, American eventually understood that the exclusion of Chinese immigrants is bad for their country too, because they were good workers (Lum, 1988, p.121).

Besides, fast assimilation and acculturation with American people was another feature that characterized Chinese immigrants. They adopted English as medium of communication, Christian religion, Western business, social, economical customs and habits (Ku, 1988, p.132).

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Most of Chinese that came to the USA were males, depressed, strong and lonely; therefore, clearly they looked for the company of white women and gradually assimilated with Hawaiian. However, male immigrants were encouraged to marry before leaving China. These people also were the first who found the way of surviving in an American society. Firstly, they worked on some plantations or stores for few years, then made partnership with other laborers and produced different goods for the natives’ needs. Some Chinese stores from those times can be found even now, but number of Chinese is much lower today (Ku, 1988, p.133). One of the reasons is probably immigrants’ assimilation with original population of the USA. Anyway, their life was closely connected with the new motherland. The Chinese set up new companies or worked on different plantations, got married and raised children and studied in different local schools and universities. Moreover, later American people tried to make this process of adaptation easier. For example, Frad Damon founded a school for girls in 1882, and then opened boarding school for boys in 1892 (Ku, 1988, p.139).

Although Chinese managed to assimilate with American community, they did not break their links with China. For example, many of them became members of revolutionary organization, headed by Dr.Sun Yatsen. Its main aim was to fight against political regime in China in the first half of 20 century (Lum, 1988, p.121). Moreover, some of them sent money to their relatives in China in order to support them.

To sum up, Chinese’ immigration to Hawaii and the continental United States had several patterns. Firstly, Chinese consider the Islands of Hawaii as a big source of sandalwood, which was in demand in China since 1788. That is why Chinese citizens started to travel to Hawaii in search of this valuable commodity (Leong, 1988, p. 74). Secondly, in the 19th century Hawaiian people began to use Chinese as cheap labor force on their plantations. Every year the number of Chinese immigrants increased. According to statistics in the end of the 19th century, 3000 of workers came to the islands every year (Lum, 1988, p.116). Thirdly, they came to the big American cities such as Chicago and New York in order to develop their business. For example, Chinese opened grocery stores, restaurants etc (Wang, 2001, p.1). However, this situation was very convenient not only for local inhabitants, but also for immigrants. The last ones even created their successive way of surviving in the USA. After working few years on the plantations or in the some stores and saving certain sum of money, they made partnership with other Chinese and started their own business (Ku, 1988, p.133). In their new homeland, Chinese representatives tried also to get at least elementary education. Another common feature of Chinese immigration was their quite fast assimilation and acculturation with local inhabitants. They adopted English as their primary medium of communication, Christian religion and western business, political and social customs (Ku, 1988, p.132). The possible reasons of that tendency were good living conditions and opportunities for getting social and economical success. However, Chinese immigrants were representatives of another race that is why some American inhabitants worried that those immigrants would become more powerful than original population. As a result, American adopted different laws that reduced the rights of Chinese. Nevertheless, the contribution of the immigrants was big. They were not only cheap labors on the plantations, but also many of them became quite successful businesspeople in different spheres such as real estate, merchandizing, banking etc. Some Chinese stores from those times work even now. The possible reasons of Chinese success in the USA were quite high level of their education, partnership with other immigrants and probably some special features of character. For example, many of their contemporaries describe them as skillful, hardworking, quiet people. Anyway, according to Ah Jook Ku, the greatest contribution of Chinese immigrants is their assimilation, because that is proof, that in an American democracy they can get social and economical success (Ku, 1988, p.139).

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