Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Profile of Small Businesses among Chinese in Vancouver

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Profile of Small Businesses among Chinese in Vancouver

Article excerpt


Historically, both market conditions and ethnic resources explain why the Chinese in Canada thrived in retailing and food services. More recent theories stress how changes in opportunities and relations under globalization shape immigrant business formation and practices. Canada revamped its immigration policy in response to the need for capital and skilled labour in the global age. Increased Chinese immigration in the 1980s from Hong Kong, and in the 1990s and after from PRC, substantially expanded the Vancouver Chinese population and the Chinese consumer market. By the 1980s, Chinese small businesses in Vancouver had proliferated beyond Chinatown-based retailing and food services to include professional firms and upscale restaurants. Using advertisements in The Sing Tao Daily, this study found that a new niche of small Chinese businesses in trades and construction has emerged, accounting for 85 percent of advertising in the Small Business Advertisement Section, and 15 percent of all advertisements in the Daily. The analysis suggests that the development of this new niche has been prompted by economic opportunities that are best seen as driven by demographic and market forces in the age of global migration.


Historiquement, les conditions du marche et les ressources ethniques expliquent conjointement pourquoi les Chinois au Canada ont prospere dans les services de vente au detail et des produits alimentaires. Les theories les plus recentes demontrent comment, sous le modele de la mondialisation, ces changements ont influence les opportunites de la formation des immigrants et des pratiques commerciales. Le Canada a remanie sa politique d'immigration pour l'adapter au besoin du capital et des competences professionnelles a l'ere mondiale. L'accroissement de l'immigration chinoise dans les annees 80 en provenance de Hong Kong et dans les annees 90, ainsi qu'apres la RPC, a considerablement augmente la population chinoise de Vancouver et le taux de consommateurs chinois sur le marche. Vers les annees 1980, les petites entreprises chinoises ont prolifere au-dela de la vente au detail et des produits alimentaires au niveau Chinatown, pour s'etendre aux entreprises professionnelles et restaurants haut de gamme. Se servant du record des publicites dans The Sing Tao Daily, cette etude a revele qu'un nouveau creneau des entreprises chinoises dans les metiers et la construction a vu le jour ; ce qui represente 85 pourcent de l'espace publicitaire dans la section << Petites entreprises chinoises >> de ce quotidien ; alors que 15 pourcent sont reserves a toutes les autres publicites. La presente analyse suggere que le developpement de ce nouveau creneau a ete incite par les opportunites economiques qui sont les mieux consideres comme entraine par les forces demographiques et du marche a l'ere de la migration mondiale.


Historically, Chinese in North America were believed to have a tendency to engage in small businesses for two reasons. First, racial discrimination limited opportunities of minorities like Chinese in the mainstream economy, and some resorted to small businesses in the ethnic community to avoid competition. Second, ethnic affinity and cultural resources facilitated Chinese to assemble capital and labour instrumental in small business ventures. Both reasons had something to do with why Chinese in Canada developed small businesses in the period prior to WWII, and why businesses in food service and retailing in particular played an important part in the economic life of Chinese in Canada (Li 1998).

The removal of discrimination laws against the Chinese after WWII and the subsequent entrenchment of equity rights and multiculturalism policy resulted in improved opportunities for Chinese in Canada. At the same time, changes in immigration policy in Canada in 1967 and after enabled an increasing number of new Chinese immigrants with educational qualifications and investment capital coming to Canada, first mainly from Hong Kong, and after the 1990s, from the People's Republic of China (PRC) (Li 1998,2008). …

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