Chapter The Transformation of Chinese America: New York v. Los Angeles

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Source: U.S. Census of the Population, 2000 (

The study was partially supported by research grants from the Academic Senate and the Asian American Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles. The authors thank David Halle and John Logan for their insightful comments and helpful and Ly P. Lam for her research assistance.

1 This paper is rewritten and updated from Min Zhou and Rebecca Kim, “A Tale of Two Metropolises: Immigrant Chinese Communities in New York and Los Angeles,” pp. 124-149 in David Halle, ed., Los Angeles and New York in the New Millennium. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

2 Alejandro Portes and Ruben Rumbaut, Immigrant America: A Portrait (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990); Saskia Sassen, Cities in a World Economy (Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press, 1994).

3 Min Zhou and James V. Gatewood, “Mapping the Terrain: Asian American Diversity and the Challenges of the Twenty-First Century,” Asian American Policy Review 9: XX (2000): 5-29.

4 Richard C. Edwards, Contested Terrain: The Transformation of the Workplace in Twentieth Century (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1979); Charles Tolbert, Patrick M. Horan and E. M. Beck, “The Structure of Economic Segmentation: A Dual Economy Approach,” American Journal of Sociology, 85: 5 (1980): 1095 1116.

5 Roger Waldinger, “Ethnicity and Opportunity in the Plural City,” Roger Waldinger and Mehdi Bozorgmehr, eds., Ethnic Los Angeles (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1996).

6 Jan Lin, Reconstructing Chinatown: Ethnic Enclave, Global Change (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998); Timothy P. Fong, The First Suburban Chinatown: The Remaking of Monterey Park, California (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994); John Horton, The Politics of Diversity: Immigration, Resistance, and Change in Monterey Park, California (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995); Leland Saito, Race and Politics: Asian and Latino and White in Los Angeles Suburbs (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998); Yen-Fen Tseng, Suburban Ethnic Economy: Chinese Business Communities in Los Angeles (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California Los Angeles, 1994); C.C. Wong, Monterey Park: A Community Transition (Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1989); Yu Zhou, Ethnic Networks as Transactional Networks: Chinese Networks in the Producer Service Sectors of Los Angeles (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1996).

7 Douglass Massey; William Julius Wilson, ??

8 Min Zhou, Chinatown: The Socioeconomic Potential of an Urban Enclave (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992).

9 The first generation and second generation (US born of foreign born parentage) combined make up nearly 90%. See Zhou and Gatewood, “Mapping the Terrain.”

10 Yu Xie and Kimberly A. Goyette, A Demographic Portrait of Asian Americans (New York: Russell Sage Foundation and Washington D.C. Population Reference Bureau, 2004). Nationwide, 48% of adult Chinese Americans (aged 25 and over) had a college degree compared to 24% in the generation US adult population as shown in the 2000 US census.

11 Jan Lin, Reconstructing Chinatown: Ethnic Enclave, Global Change (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998); Zhou, Chinatown.

12 For detail, see Zhou and Kim, “A Tale of Two Metropolises.”

13 Ibid.

14 Wei Li , “Ethnoburb versus Chinatown: Two Types of Urban Ethnic Communities in Los Angeles,” Cybergeo 70 (October, 1998),, online access on January 30, 2007.

15 Tarry Hum, Global Production in NYC’ Garment Industry. Economic Development Quarterly, Vol 17 no 3, August 2003 294-309.

16 Parvin, Jean, 1991. “Immigrants Migrate to International City.” Crain’s New York Business, Vol. 7, No. 27 (July 8), p. 22.

17 Waldinger, Roger and Yenfen Tseng. 1992. “Divergent Diasporas: The Chinese Communities of New York and Los Angeles Compared.” Revue Europeenne des Migrations Internationales 8 (3): 91-115.

18 Nick Conway, San Gabriel Valley Regional Demographic Profile: Indicator Report. (Pasadena: San Gabriel Council of Governments, 2003). Also see Wikipedia, “The San Gabriel Valley,”, online access on January 30, 2007.

19 Fong, The First Suburban Chinatown; Horton, The Politics of Diversity; Li, Spatial Transformation of an Urban Ethnic Community from Chinatown to Chinese Ethnoburb in Los Angeles; Lin and Robinson, “Spatial Disparities in the Expansion of the Chinese Ethnoburb of Los Angeles;” Tseng, Suburban Ethnic Economy; Zhou, Ethnic Networks as Transactional Networks.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid.

22 Horton, The Politics of Diversity.

23 Tseng, Suburban Ethnic Economy.

24 Tseng, Suburban Ethnic Economy; In-Jin Yoon, “The Changing Signification of Ethnic and Class Resources in Immigrant Businesses: The Case of Korean Immigrant Businesses in Chicago,” International Migration Review 35: 2 (1991): 303-331.

25 Tseng, Suburban Ethnic Economy.

26 Fong, The First Suburban Chinatown; Min Zhou, “‘Parachute Kids’ in Southern California: The Educational Experience of Chinese Children in Transnational Families,” Educational Policy 12: 6 (1998): 682-704.

27 Diamond Bar is adjacent to San Gabriel Valley and may be more appropriately considered to be a Pomona Valley city.

28 Table 1 displays four Asian-majority cities—Monterey Park, Rowland Heights, and Walnut. Not listed in Table 1 are four other Asian-majority cities in the United States— Cerritos (58%) in L.A. County, Daly City (51%) and Milpitas (52%) in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Honolulu City (56%) in Hawaii. In 1990, only Monterey Park and Daly City had an Asian majority in the United States.

29 Quoted in Mark Arax (1987), “Monterey Park: The Nation’s First Suburban Chinatown,” Los Angeles Times, April 6, p. 1.

30 Ibid.

31 Fong, The First Suburban Chinatown, 50.

32 Bert Eljera, “The Chinese Beverly Hills,” Asianweek, May 24-30, 1996., online access on January 15, 2007; Amy Luu, “The Chinese American Experience in the San Gabriel Valley,”, online access on January 15, 2007.

33 Tseng, Suburban Ethnic Economy, 44.

34 Wong, Monterey Park.

35 Tseng, Suburban Ethnic Economy.

36 Wei Li, “Building Ethnoburbia: The Emergence and Manifestation of the Chinese Ethnoburb in Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley,” Journal of Asian American Studies 2: 1 (1998): 1-28; Wei Li, Gary Dymski, Yu Zhou, Maria Chee, and Carolyn Akdana, “Chinese-American Banking and Community Development in Los Angeles County,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 92: 4 (2002): 777-796; Yu Zhou, “Beyond Ethnic Enclaves: Location Strategies of Chinese Producer Service Firms in Los Angeles County,” Economic Geography 74: 3 (1998): 228-252.

37 Ivan Light, Deflecting Immigration: Networks, Markets, and Regulations in Los Angeles (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006); Tseng, Suburban Ethnic Economy.

38 Min Zhou and Rebecca Y. Kim, “Formation, Consolidation, and Diversification of the Ethnic Elite: The Case of the Chinese Immigrant Community in the United States,” Journal of International Migration and Integration 2: 2 (2001): 227-247.

39 Fong, The First Suburban Chinatown,153.

40 Min Zhou and Susan S. Kim, “Community Forces, Social Capital, and Educational Achievement: The Case of Supplementary Education in the Chinese and Korean Immigrant Communities,” Harvard Educational Review 76: 1 (2006): 1-29.

41 Joe C. Fong, Complementary Education and Culture in the Global/Local Chinese Community (San Francisco: China Books and Periodicals, 2003).

42 Fong, Complementary Education and Culture in the Global/Local Chinese Community; Xueying Wang, A View from Within: A Case Study of Chinese Heritage Community Language Schools in the United States (The National Foreign Language Center, the Johns Hopkins University, 1996); Min Zhou and Xiyuan Li, “Ethnic Language Schools and the Development of Supplementary Education in the Immigrant Chinese Community in the United States,” New Directions for Youth Development: Understanding the Social Worlds of Immigrant Youth (Winter, 2003): 57-73.

43 Southern California Chinese Consumer Yellow Pages (Rosemead: Chinese Consumer Yellow Pages, 2004).

44 Kumon is a supplemental after-school program, aiming to make school-based learning easier.

45 Southern California Chinese Consumer Yellow Pages.

46 Horton, The Politics of Diversity.

47 Ibid.

48 Ibid.

49 Mayors are not elected in Monterey Park. Instead, council members become mayors for nine months on a rotating basis. So the Chinese American council member is also Lily Lee Chen.

50 Horton, The Politics of Diversity, 108.

51 Dr. Judy Chu stepped down as California Assemblywoman in 2006 because of the term limit. She now serves as the current board member representing California Board of Equalization’s 4th District.

52 Personal interview, March 1999.

53 Personal interview, May 1993.

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