Posted on November 10, 2011

The End of Chinatown

Bonnie Tsui, The Atlantic, December 2011


Recent years have seen stories of Chinese “sea turtles”–those who are educated overseas and migrate back to China–lured by Chinese-government incentives that include financial aid, cash bonuses, tax breaks, and housing assistance. In 2008, Shi Yigong, a molecular biologist at Princeton, turned down a prestigious $10 million research grant to return to China and become the dean of life sciences at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. “My postdocs are getting great offers,” says Robert H. Austin, a physics professor at Princeton.

But unskilled laborers are going back, too. Labor shortages in China have led to both higher wages and more options in where they can work. The Migration Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.–based think tank, published a paper on China’s demography through 2030 that says thinking of migration as moving in just one direction is a mistake: the flows are actually much more dynamic. “Migration, the way we understand it in the U.S., is about people coming, staying, and dying in our country. The reality is that it has never been that way,” says the institute’s president, Demetrios Papademetriou. “Historically, over 50 percent of the people who came here in the first half of the 20th century left. In the second half, the return migration slowed down to 25, 30 percent. But today, when we talk about China, what you’re actually seeing is more people going back … This may still be a trickle, in terms of our data being able to capture it–there’s always going to be a lag time of a couple of years–but with the combination of bad labor conditions in the U.S. and sustained or better conditions back in China, increasing numbers of people will go home.”

In the past five years, the number of Chinese immigrants to the U.S. has been on the decline, from a peak of 87,307 in 2006 to 70,863 in 2010. Because Chinatowns are where working-class immigrants have traditionally gathered for support, the rise of China–and the slowing of immigrant flows–all but ensures the end of Chinatowns.

Smaller Chinatowns have been fading for years–just look at Washington, D.C., where Chinatown is down to a few blocks marked by an ornate welcome gate and populated mostly by chains like Starbucks and Hooters, with signs in Chinese. But now the Chinatowns in San Francisco and New York are depopulating, becoming less residential and more service-oriented. {snip}

The exodus from Chinatown is happening partly because the working class is getting priced out of this traditional community and heading to the “ethnoburbs”; development continues to push residents out of the neighborhood and into other, secondary enclaves like Flushing, Queens, in New York. {snip}


36 responses to “The End of Chinatown”

  1. john says:

    Interesting development, and in some ways a bit disturbing. One, it amply demonstrates that perceptions throughout the world that the US is the best of all worlds are fading.

    Second, this nation could use all the productive brainpower available to cope with its burgeoning unproductive and basically unassimilable minorities.

  2. SS says:

    If only this were True.

    What has and is happening is: asians are infiltrating our small White Towns with the help of Government Set-Asides and the numerous other Government Anti-White Agencies that “We” are forced to pay for so the process of destroying America can continue.

    It’s designed to dilute us to the point of extinction. We’ll have even more race mixing as more and more non-whites continue to flood our last remaining Towns.

    Warn your children.

  3. ice says:

    “Now the American Dream is broken,”

    It’s a long shot, but that could well turn out to be a blessing for the white population.

    A severe, long-lasting depression just might drive a large portion of the third world hordes home and cause others to keep from coming.

    It would be a joke if all these rabid left wing demographers, who are always reminding us about whites becoming a minority, would have to eat their predictions, because the economy drove most third worlders out and civil upheaval added to the expulsion of millions more.

  4. SteveM says:

    But Chinese are still being smuggled into the United States for white slavery, and prostituted out.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Don’t think for a minute this country’s share of the Asian population is stabilizing, let alone decreasing. The fact of the matter is that in 1965 Asians were maybe one half of one percent of the US population and now they are over five. Which is a ten-fold increase if my math serves me correctly. I do believe that a white society can assimilate culturally and genetically a very small Asian population and and not have its character altered by much (unlike with blacks who are just too different from us). I know there are some race-purists on this site believe even a small amount of anything other than white can’t be handled so they’re gonna give me heat for this. But the point is, the Asian population shouldn’t grow anymore,its big enough already. We don’t need anymore, thank you very much.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Typical liberal hogwash article by The Atlantic.

    For every older generation “Chinatown” that dies out, there are probably 3-4 previously white (or Black/Latino if you’re in NY) cities that get over run by Asians (just take a look at certain areas surrounding Vancouver, San Jose, and Los Angeles).

    As sad as it is to say… Chinese immigrants coming into the US and Canada are farrrr from over:

    And just so you know… this is mainland China we’re talking about. If the HK immigrants (an island of only 7 million people) were able to practically colonize the 3rd largest city (Vancouver a.k.a. Hongcouver) in Canada, you can pretty much expect 1 billion+ people to turn the west coast into “little” China.

  7. Enough says:

    What tremendous nonsense all to make us less afraid of the coming deluge. 70,000 Chinese a year and we are supposed to think that is nothing? The Chinese could send 100 million immigrants to America and never even miss them at home. We are being colonized by what used to be called the Third World and our birth right is being stolen with the help of our own government and the corporations.

  8. AO says:

    Nice to know that some people actually still have a homeland to go back too.

  9. Alexander from Flanders says:

    Wow! That is good news for the US.

    It makes sense that China wants these Chinese Immigrants to come back since they have a shortage in People. Better that than importing half of the the third world. But I never saw it coming though.

    I also heard that in Germany more and more Turks (with higher school degrees) are leaving to go back to Turkey (although they were born in Germany). More are leaving, and less are coming over!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Asians have controlled Flushing, Queens for decades and now control Bayside, where I live. Block after block with Asian churches where houses used to be. No property tax for churches. Block after block (miles) of Chinese and Korean stores, banks, school programs, doctors, dentists, etc. My people are strangers in our own hometown. There is no exodus here. Now they are branching out into Whitestone, Bay Terrrace, Douglaston, Great Neck. It’s very sad.

  11. Anonymous says:

    There is absolutely no net decrease in the number of Asians colonizing the New World. Nor is there a decrease in their will to conquer it.

    In the Chinese mindset, the Americas were only just discovered yesterday. Whoever colonizes it, claims it. Neighborhood by neighborhood, street by street….

  12. Oberwies says:

    There are so many Asians in the US that the Asian women have picked over the best of the best white men (engineers, doctors, highly educated). For every Asian woman with a white man you see, that’s usually a highly educated man who will not produce white children, and deprive a white woman a good man.

  13. Thorismund says:

    This report is way off. First- it doesn’t mention illegal immigration by ethnic Chinese from all over the world to the USA. The old Chinatowns may be losing population but most of the more well to do Chinese move to ritzier neighborhoods(Los Angeles area read-Arcadia, San Marino, Hacienda Heights and Monterey Park) as their old neighborhoods are surrounded by Hispanic gangs. The shaky nature of the Chinese economy, America is still a target for rich Chinese who seek to move their wealth out of the Middle Kingdom befoer someone else gets it.

  14. Yellow Man says:

    Asia has truly developed and come into it’s own. The major Chinese cities are far more cosmopolitan and dynamic than their US counterparts.

    In any major Chinese cities you almost grow accustomed to seeing Westerners. The opportunity that exist for a man with skills and know in China dwarf the opportunities versus Europe or the States where entrepreneurs are hampered by a plethora of rules and regulations.

    The economy is growing in China and wage increases are the norm rather than the exception.

    It seems to me as if the Eastern Chinese cities have become the New World, sought after by immigrants with talent drive and ambition.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Right now the net migration from Mexico is zero. Number of those who come is equal to those who leave.

  16. John Engelman says:

    Whites who fear “race replacement” by Oriental immigrants are feeling misplaced aggression. The main threat to white employees comes from a white oligarchy that cares as little for us as for the office furniture, and that treats us as though we are as expendable.

  17. Anonymous says:

    When I was a city dweller, I used to go to Wells Fargo exchange cash for quarters for laundry and parking. I would give them a 20, and they would give me a roll of quarters. I figure, that is where you change currency, at a bank. You can also give them a roll of quarters, and the bank will give you $20. I had been doing this since I was a child. I tried doing this a Chinese bank in Chinatown. It was as if I was asking them to do some impossible, arduous chore. They would not allow me to exchange cash for quarters. I know this sounds petty, but it seems as though Asian establishments find normal routine customer requests rude and impossible.

    I used to go to an Asian coffee shop, Korean, to be exact. Like most cafes, etc, I would occasionally make small talk with the employees working behind the counter. The owner reprimanded me for this and forbade me to speak with the workers. I stopped going there, of course. Another Korean cafe nearby would not allow a simple special order, even after I offered to pay more. Another Korean cafe I frequented started using cheap ingredients to save money. They thought that we wouldn’t notice. I and many others stopped going there. Recently, I ate at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown with a friend. The food was low quality slop. The patrons were mostly white and Mexican. I asked a Chinese person about this later. He candidly told me that some Chinese restaurants serve slop to non-Asians and charge full price. They think that we won’t notice as they try to increase their profit. On another occasion, I went to a Japanese restaurant. It was mostly empty and I asked for a booth. They told me that was impossible and they sat me next to the toilet. (you would think that I would have given up by now!!).

    No, I’m not racist. I don’t hate Asians. I am just shocked by the common rudeness and penny-pinching of some Asian-owned businesses. I have Asian friends who agree with me. American businesses are famous for customer service. When a customer has a reasonable request, you do you best to honor such a request. (If the customer is rude and impossible, I agree with refusing service). My point is, when going out to eat, we are not used to being ordered around and treated like cattle. Asian-owned businesses often don’t understand customer service. For a very smail effort, you can offer great satisfaction to your customers. If you split hairs to save pennies, you drive people away and lose much more.

  18. Kenelm Digby says:

    It’s obvious:

    China is the rising power with opportunities, growth and self-confidence.

    America is the declining power.

  19. gary says:

    A disingenuous article to say the least. Legal Chinese immigrants may be declining because they are the most educated by and large. Illegal Chinese immigration is, however, soaring. Chinese come in via Canada. They arrive on Canadian visas and through illegal networking simply enter the US and take a flight to NYC and disappear. After a few yrs. toiling in a restaurant to pay off the people who facilitated their entry, they emerge and get legality.They let the Mexicans take the heat while they essentially take over. Ask the Filipinos about the Chinese.

  20. Captain Jack Aubrey says:

    Washington DC’s Chinatown was never very big and it is doubtful that even 1000 Chinese ever lived in DC’s Chinatown. Gentrification and the building of the new basketball-hockey arena has diminished DC’s Chinatown further. There are as many non-Chinese restaurants in Chinatown than Chinese restaurants. Of trivial note, the Surratt boarding house where John Wilkes Booth lived before killing Abraham Lincoln still stands. A Chinese-Japanese restaurant rents the property.

    DC’s Chinatown has one apartment complex that is either all Chinese or predominately Chinese. Just goes to show that even in a city where Chinese make up less than one percent of the population, Chinese prefer to live with one another than with other ethnic or racial groups.

  21. Istvan says:

    I went from living in a white neighborhood to living in an Indian, Chinese, Korean neighborhood, and I didn’t move! I don’t know what section of the US is turning “American” but it isn’t NJ.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I also believe this article is a bald-faced lie made to comfort immigrant-weary Americans. EVERY year that passes seems to bring 20% MORE Chinese (and Koreans) into my neighborhood. There are only TWO white familes left on my suburban block of about 50 homes in the northeast of the country. You do the math.

    The only saving grace is that, well, they’re better than some other groups and do learn English, but their is still no social cohesion. They create their little worlds, and I am the outsider, a minority in the land of my forefathers. Well, we did it to the Indians. Is it our turn now?

    Sad thing is, those who are displacing us are not from superior civilizations or more technologically advanced races. We are allowing our displacement willingly.

  23. Standard Bearer says:

    Don’t the Chinese realize they could also invite African Bantus, Bolivian Indians and Middle Eastern Muslims into their country instead. That would fix their labour shortages and it has the added benefit of Diversity… or maybe they really are smarter than Whites.

  24. Anonymous says:

    The article states that 70,000 Chinese immigrated to America in 2010, (and probably as many to Canada), so how are Chinatowns “ending”? Maybe historic Chinatowns are decreasing but new and bigger ones are popping up like mushrooms. Look at Vancouver, whole areas of the city have been taken over by Chinese.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Chinatowns have been depopulating for 40 years. Who wants to live in a tiny apartment above a poultry slaughter house when you can live in a nice house in a residential area and still own the slaughter house?

    About 60 percent of San Francisco is Chinatown now. the San Gabriel Valley suburbs of Los Angeles is Chinatown now. Queens and other parts of NYC are Chinatown now.

  26. native daughter of the golden west says:

    “But now the Chinatowns in San Francisco…… are depopulating, becoming less residential and more service-oriented.

    Since the 1940’s in San Francisco miss know it all. Whatever her facts on other parts of the country are, she is wrong about San Francisco’s Chinatown.

    Ever time I read something I know the facts about in the MSM it is wrong.

  27. Anonymous says:

    1 — john wrote at 5:47 PM on November 10:

    Second, this nation could use all the productive brainpower available to cope with its burgeoning unproductive and basically unassimilable minorities.

    More Asian worshiping from John who has joined Englemann in the Asian amen corner.

    A few days ago I posted for John’s edification the Chinese trust company deeds of trust fraud we uncovered at Glendale savings.

    To day I will post the saga of my friend’s Korean landlord.

    My friend’s Korean landlord is on SSI and lives in a lovely new senior complex for which he pays $300.00 per month rent, all utilities but phone included. His land line is of course the senior discount about $6.00 per month.

    Mr. Park as I will call him joined his city police force at age 22 as soon as he got out of the army. He retired after 30 years at age 53 with a full pension. He then joined his son in America under the family re unification plan. Before the actual move, he and his wife visited his son several times and got free legal help from one of our myriad White tax payer funded legal aid for everybody but White American counseling centers.

    He and his wife arrived with birth certificates, passports and other Korean govt official ID that gave their ages as 66 and 65 year old instead of early 50’s. That meant they were eligible for SSI.

    SSI is income for the disabled and the elderly who have never worked under Social Security. SSI was shoved through congress in 1972 by Phil and John Burton congressmen from San Francisco and San Mateo counties Ca.

    The idea was suggested to John by his Daly City and N San Mateo

    Filipino constituents who did work at middle class jobs and unlike most Asians did and do pay taxes. They wanted to bring their parents and grandparents over but could not or did not want to to support them.

    Also, by that time there was a significant number of black life long welfare women who were getting too old for childbearing unless they succeeded in getting custody of the grandchildren might have had to go to work.

    Thus SSI was born. According to National Review, the best selling book in ALL Asian languages is “How to Get on SSI in America.”

    Back to Mr & Mrs. Park. They arrived in Los Angeles with the forged birth certificates. Ms Park’s ID was in her maiden name.

    That is because single SSI recipients get $900.00 per month.

    Married couples get less, I think about $1,300 per month.

    They went to separate Social Securityoffices. They lived together in the son’s house, but Mrs. Parks used the address and phone number of another relative. So they each got $900 as single persons. That’s $1,800 per month. Their lovely senior apartment is only 1/3rd of Mr. Parks income as only he is on the lease. They also get the free medicare, free senior transport etc. Their medicare supplemental insurance is another free government program, medi-aid.

    Mr. Parks Korean police pension puts him far above the financial eligibility for SSI. SSI is intended for people who never worked under Social Security. So Mr. Parks simply did not tell SSI that he had a Korean pension coming in. He gave his occupation as some sort of laborer with a low income.

    So they have $1,800 per month SSI, $300 per month rent and his police pension. That is how they were able to buy 2 small apartment houses.

    Wait! There’s more ! Mr. Parks also owns the security guard company that has the contract with one of the big Los Angeles museums.

    My friend is assist manager or caretaker. Reduced rent for doing a few chores and being there 2 hours a day for tenant problems.

    Mr. Park hates blacks and sneers at blacks on welfare.

    Look beyond the official crime rate and into the fraud and tax evasion crime rate John.

  28. Anonymous says:


    If you think Asians are so wonderful, why don’t you apply for a small business administration loan and tax breaks to open a convenience store, gas station, mechanic’s garage restaurant, dry cleaner’s, florist or any other small business?

    You will be turned down because you are not a non White immigrant. Find an Asian to act as your front person. Send them to SBA 6 months later asking for the same loan and tax breaks. Notice that they will get it all approved within a month.

    SBA will not loan to you or any other White man John.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I agree with those posters who say that this article represents a kind of ruse. Even if many well-educated Chinese are being offered better or more appealing jobs back in China, it is only for the purpose of creating a China more able to dominate.

    It does seem that Chinese, and Asian in general are simply spreading out, into smaller cities and towns.

    Looking ahead, I would predict that if what seems to be the conservative idea of hastening foreclosures to turn them into rental housing (to rent back to the same people who couldn’t afford to live in them to being with?), occurs via corporations that buy up huge swathes of foreclosing homes, many of them will be bought by Chinese corporations. This will prove a huge problem for American sovereignty and signal the creation of much of the U.S. as a Chinese colony.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Exactly what is the point of comment #17, may I ask? How is it relevant to the original article? If you don’t like the service of a particular business, simply don’t offer them your custom.

    The only measure of a business is its ability to stay in business. If what you say is true, let them learn the hard way. When they see businesses with better customer service out-competing themselves, they will adjust. This is true irrespective of whether a business is run by Asians or by non-Asians. So why generalize it as an Asian phenomenon?

    Also, how familiar are you with the customer service of businesses in Asian countries, as opposed to merely of Asian-owned businesses in the USA? I suggest that you might have a rather different impression of “Asian customer service” if you had more experience with the former.

  31. b says:

    While some may immediately jump at it being a blessing, it really isn’t.

    When people leave, out their own free will, it is a reflection of our decline.

    P.S. Also I think we can disagree with others without using snide attacks.

  32. cpascal says:

    If the Korean landlord and his wife both had passports and other ID that showed them as more than ten years older than they were, the papers must either be fake, or the Korean government must be in on it. If he was a policeman for thirty years, then the government there must know for certain how old he is.

  33. Jason Robertson says:

    I don’t know about “Hongcouver” in Canada or Chinatowns in the US, but the arrival of Chinese in pleasanter towns of Britain has become noticeable, as also the Chinese girl friends of young white students. I know of at least two elderly well-known “racist” academics with Chinese wives. Some Oriental females are imported through on-line dating.

    The Chinese are a private people, their crimes and vices still mostly concealed within their own communities, facilitated by that “inscrutable” demeanour, difficult language, and ethnic pride. Oswald Spengler’s symbol for their ancient culture was the “walled garden”.

    Other Far Eastern communities are developing their own “closed” sites in the former Eng-land; New Malden in Surrey is now nicknamed New Korea.

    On increasing Chinese emigration, see e.g. Tania Branigan, “Yuan drain as China’s rich move west”, The Guardian (London, November 12) on-line & print. A few Westernised Chinese intellects might help resist the Middle Kingdom in its cyberwar against us, but generally the outpouring of the new Mongol hordes is not something to welcome. How much chow mein we can “take away” in a week?

    How ironic that a century ago Europeans were warning almost prematurely of the Yellow Peril, and recently the “EU” went begging to the Chinese Communist Party! The kow-tow defeatism in face of the Chinese economic growth, and its colonialism in Africa, is indefensible.

    East and West may have something to learn from each other, whether or not the twain shall meet, but we long-nosed barbarians must first put our own house in order. We can, we should, and we will.

  34. Anonymous says:

    “Exactly what is the point of comment #17, may I ask? How is it relevant to the original article?”

    ….I was writing about my experiences in a “disappearing Chinatown”.

    The only measure of a business is its ability to stay in business. If what you say is true, let them learn the hard way. When they see businesses with better customer service out-competing themselves, they will adjust. This is true irrespective of whether a business is run by Asians or by non-Asians. So why generalize it as an Asian phenomenon?.”

    ….It just happened too many times to be a coincidence. I have many more experiences, but I don’t want to write a book. My obersvations were confirmed by the many Asian friends and acquaintences that I have.

    “Also, how familiar are you with the customer service of businesses in Asian countries, as opposed to merely of Asian-owned businesses in the USA? I suggest that you might have a rather different impression of “Asian customer service” if you had more experience with the former”

    ….I have travelled through three different countries in Asia. I often stayed at Western Hotels. When I stayed at Asian hotels, I regretted it. In Thailand, what really enraged me is how they treat their own people. I do have Asian friends whom I visit with there. They are polite, middle class, and white collar (not prostitutes, etc). Asian establishments catering to western tourists often treat them like dirt…no different than a thief or prostitue. In Japan, it is the opposite. There are businesses, bars, baths, etc, that forbid non-Japanese people to enter., “no gaijin” (no outsider). I can’t blame them, as they are trying to keep out aggressive, loud, drunk tourists. They have problems with U.S. soldiers and Russian fishermen and sailors. Russians are known to brawl and throw up in the public baths. Black U.S. soldiers are known to, well, you know. I can’t blame them for keeping rif raf out, but they don’t differentiate between the good and the bad. Singapore was pretty good, I must admit. I thought highly of the hotels and restaurants, even Asian chains. Some places did water down the expensive drinks, etc, but it was mostly good. I was impressed by some of the street vendors and small businesses in all of those countries. All and all, Asia was quite different than my U.S. experience.

  35. Anonymous says:

    “4 — SteveM wrote at 6:33 PM on November 10:

    But Chinese are still being smuggled into the United States for white slavery, and prostituted out.”

    Prostitution is a small part of the asian slave smuggling. The bulk go into restaurants, illegal sweatshops and illegal food processing operations.

    You would be surprised at how many of those 4,000 sq foot McMansions are slave labor factories. For 150 years most of San Francisco’s asian restaurant employees are smuggled in indentured servants paying off their smuggling fees.

  36. Anonymous says:

    “32 — cpascal wrote at 8:36 AM on November 12:

    If the Korean landlord and his wife both had passports and other ID that showed them as more than ten years older than they were, the papers must either be fake, or the Korean government must be in on it. If he was a policeman for thirty years, then the government there must know for certain how old he is.”

    Of course their identification was fake. I’ve no idea if the Korean goverment is in on it or not. I wrote about just one couple. There are hundreds of thousands of asian SSI receipients in this country. Many are 10 or 12 years too young for SSI. The disabled ones were certified by crooked asian Drs.

    Most work full time at the family business.

    Consider the typical asian small business. SBA low interest loans and tax write offs. A few months before the 5 year tax relief is over they just transfer the business to another relative. 5 years later to another. Relatives on SSI work full time although they are alledgedly disabled and retired.

    I doubt any goverment including ours, concerns itself with frauds committed by their nationals who move to another country and become citizens of that country.