Chinese immigrants Feng Wu, left, and Cong Rong Cao reviewed facts concerning U.S. government and history Saturday during citizenship classes offered by the Chinese Community Action Coalition at the Child & Family Service Building on Vineyard Boulevard. They were assisted by Filomena Hunt (behind Cao) and UH student Ryan Rimsinth, right.

Chinese dominate
U.S. Asian numbers

Census figures show Hawaii's
population of Chinese Americans
to be eighth largest

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Chinese Americans are reported to be the largest Asian population in the United States, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released today.

Statistical data showed California had the largest Chinese population, followed by New York and Texas. Hawaii had the eighth-highest number of Chinese Americans in the country.

For Census 2000, respondents were asked for the first time to report one or more races they considered themselves and other household members to be.

Art A total of 2.7 million people identified themselves as full Chinese or Chinese mixed with one or more other races. Of that figure, 2.3 million reported to be full Chinese, and an additional 400,000 reported they were Chinese with at least one other race.

Filipinos followed as the second-largest Asian group in the United States at 2.4 million, while Asian Indians made up the third-largest group at 1.9 million.

Though the census report identifies Chinese Americans under one umbrella, they are a diverse people, said Cyndy Ning, associate director of the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

"There's language differences. You're talking about different people," Ning said. "Census-wise, we're identified as a homogenous group."

Associate professor Carol Fan, who teaches an ethnic studies course at UH on Chinese Americans, said the population stresses tradition, family values, education and hard work.

Sun Hung "Sunny" Wong, honorable mayor of Chinatown, said: "They're doing very well. They're holding their own."

In 1852 the Chinese were the first Asian group contracted to work as laborers on Hawaii's sugar plantations. They worked long hours and were paid about $3 to $5 a month.

More than 30 years later, a number of Chinese Americans left the sugar industry to open their own businesses in downtown Honolulu.

"There's always been a strong business orientation among the Chinese," said Bryan Man, sociology professor at Chaminade University.

"There's a historical tradition of being entrepreneurs to survive in America. They had to create Chinatowns to create Chinese businesses. From there it went," Man said.

Ning said more than 130 Chinese societies exist in Hawaii.

Statistical data showed about 50 percent of Asian Americans live in California, New York and Hawaii.

Hawaii's four counties were among the top eight in the country with Asian-American populations, according to the report. Honolulu City and County showed the highest percentage of Asian Americans at 62 percent. Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties each were more than 47 percent Asian American. Two counties in Alaska and two in the San Francisco Bay area were more than 25 percent Asian American.

"Hawaii exactly feels like how it is to be between Asia and the United States," Ning said.

Overall, 10.2 million of the 281 million people in the United States reported they were of Asian ancestry, according to the census report.

The term "Asian" refers to people who have origins from the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent that includes Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Collecting statistical data on race is vital in evaluating federal programs concerning employment, education and housing.

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin