Chinese Peruvian

From Academic Kids

A Chinese Peruvian is a person of Chinese ancestry born in Peru, or who has made Peru his or her adopted homeland.

Chinese immigrants in the 19th century, who took a four-month trip from Macao ( then a Portuguese territory), settled Peru as contract laborers or "coolies". Other Chinese coolies from Guangdong followed. One hundred thousand Chinese contract laborers, almost all male, were sent mostly to the sugar plantations from 1849 to 1874, for the termination of slavery and continuous labor for the coastal guano mines and especially for the coastal plantations where they became a major labor force until the end of the century. While the coolies were believed to be reduced to virtual slaves, they also represented a historical transition from slave to free labor.

Another group of Chinese settlers came after the founding of Sun Yat-senís republic in 1912, World War II, and the establishment of Communist rule in 1949. Recent Chinese immigrants settled in Peru from Hong Kong and, again, Macao because of fear of their return to Communist rule in 1997 and 1999, while others have come from other places in mainland China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asian Chinese communities, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines. Many Chinese-Indonesians and Chinese-Filipinos came to Peru after anti-Chinese riots and massacres in those countries the 1960s, 1970s, and late 1990s. These recent Chinese immigrants make Peru the home of the largest ethnic Chinese community in Latin America.

After their contracts ended, freed coolies (and later immigrants) established many small businesses. These included chifas (Chinese Peruvian restaurants -- the word is derived from qifan, or "eat rice" in Cantonese). Lima's Chinatown, known as Barrio Chino de Lima, became one of the Western Hemisphere's earliest Chinatowns. The Chinese coolies married Peruvian women, and many Chinese-Peruvians today are of mixed Chinese, Spanish, and African or Native American descent. Chinese Peruvians also assisted in the development of the Amazon, where they tapped rubber trees, washed gold, cultivated rice, and traded with the Indians. They even became the largest foreign colony in the Amazon capital of Iquitos by the end of the century. Many Chinese-Peruvians left Peru in the 1960s and 1970s to escape the dictatorial government of Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado, worsening poverty, and earthquake. Most of them headed to the United States, where they were called Chinese Americans or Peruvian-Americans of Chinese descent, while others went to Canada, mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Australia, or New Zealand.

Most Chinese-Peruvians speak two Chinese dialects, Cantonese and Mandarin, a mix of Chinese and Spanish, Spanish, and English. Since the first Chinese immigrants came from Macau, some of these also speak the Portuguese creole known as Macaista or PatuŠ.

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