By Letisia Marquez December 16, 2010
The little known history of the Chinese in Mexico — one that is marked by a bloody massacre and a successful effort to shut down Chinese-owned businesses in one Mexican state — is documented for the first time in an English-language book authored by a UCLA professor.
“There’s this rich history of the Chinese in Mexico that’s been forgotten for the most part,” said Robert Chao Romero, assistant professor of Chicana and Chicano studies. “It’s been forgotten because it’s a dark chapter in Mexican history, unfortunately.”
The book, titled “The Chinese in Mexico, 1882-1940” (University of Arizona Press, 2010) notes that Chinese migration to Mexico dates back to the 1600s when Spanish trading ships sailed between Mexico and the Philippines. Small numbers of Chinese immigrants entered colonial Mexico as personal servants of Spanish merchants.
Some Chinese stayed in Mexico to earn their living as tradesmen, barbers and shopkeepers, and often resided in segregated quarters in the periphery of large cities, Romero said.
Wide-scale migration to “Big Lusong,” as the Chinese referred to Mexico, did not occur until much later, according to Romero. About 60,000 Chinese entered Mexico during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many of them with the intent of trying to gain illegal entry into the U.S., which had barred Chinese immigrants in 1882.
(At the time U.S. authorities did not arrest Mexican workers trying to cross the border for higher wages because there were no laws in existence that barred or even limited Mexican immigration to the United States, Romero noted.)
In 1899, the Mexican government also signed a treaty with China to recruit Chinese to work in agriculture in the northern border areas, Romero said. By the 1920s, Chinese immigrants who had settled in Mexico were the second largest immigrant group in the nation — after Spanish immigrants — with a population of 26,000, Romero said. They resided in every Mexican state except for Tlaxcala.
The rest of the Original UCLA Article