The Chinese Triangle of Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong: Comparative Institutional Analyses

By Alvin Y. So; Nan Lin et al. | Go to book overview

13

PRC IMMIGRANTS IN THE UNITED STATES: A DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE AND AN ASSESSMENT OF THEIR INTEGRATION IN THE CHINESE AMERICAN COMMUNITY

Fenggang Yang

From the end of the 1970s to the mid-1990s, about half a million people from the People's Republic of China (PRC) immigrated to the United States. These dalu ren (mainlanders), as they are commonly referred to in the Chinese community, constitute a significant portion of the Chinese American population. However, little scholarly research has examined this new group of immigrants. In this chapter I use statistics compiled by U.S. government agencies to develop a demographic profile of this distinctive group and then use ethnographic data to present a preliminary assessment of their incorporation in the larger society, especially their integration into the existing Chinese American community.


HOW MANY PRC IMMIGRANTS HAVE COME?

Between 1949 and 1978, the PRC prohibited its citizens from leaving the country. However, some people did manage to flee to Hong Kong or to other places. Only after 1978, under the open-door and related policies of reform, did mainland Chinese immigrants begin to come directly to the United States.

However, to determine how many PRC immigrants have come to the United States is not as simple a task as one might imagine. First, there is a definition problem. Who are PRC immigrants? The simplest definition is that PRC immigrants are those who were PRC citizens before coming to the United States. However, some PRC citizens became permanent residents or citizens of Hong Kong, Taiwan, or other countries before coming to the United States. But they, too, had lived as citizens of the PRC under the Chinese Communist Party. Should “PRC immigrants” include all those who have ever lived as citizens in the PRC or only immigrants who came directly from mainland China?

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