Chinese Peruvian

Chinese Peruvian
Chinese Peruvian
Total population
1,300,000 - 1,600,000
3-4% of the Peruvian population [1][2]
Regions with significant populations
Lima, Huacho, Moyobamba, Tarapoto, Iquitos

Spanish, Hakka Chinese, Cantonese, Mandarin, others


Christianity, Buddhism, Chinese religions

Related ethnic groups

Asian Latin American, Japanese Peruvian

Chinese Peruvian
Traditional Chinese 秘魯華僑華人
Simplified Chinese 秘鲁华侨华人
Chinese 土生
Literal meaning Local-born

Chinese Peruvians, also known as tusán (a loanword from Chinese 土生 pinyin: tǔ shēng, jyutping: tou2 saang1 "local born"), are people of Overseas Chinese ancestry born in Peru, or who have made Peru their adopted homeland.

Most Chinese Peruvians are multilingual. In addition to Spanish or Quechua, many of them speak one or more Chinese dialects that may include Cantonese, Hakka, Mandarin, and Minnan. Since the first Chinese immigrants came from Macau, some of them also speak Portuguese. In Peru, Asian Peruvians are estimated at least 5% of the population.[3]



Early history

Chinese immigrants in the 19th century, who took a four-month trip from Macau (then a Portuguese territory), settled Peru as contract laborers or "coolies". Other Chinese coolies from Guangdong followed. One hundred thousand Chinese contract laborers, mostly cantonese and almost all male, were sent mostly to the sugar plantations from 1849 to 1874, for the termination of slavery and continuous labor for the coastal guano mines and especially for the coastal plantations where they became a major labor force until the end of the century. While the coolies were believed to be reduced to virtual slaves, they also represented a historical transition from slave to free labor.

Many Chinese saw the Chilean liberation as an opportunity to avenge years of abuse from the plantation owners; in Pacasmayo 600 to 800 Chinese forced labourers looted the sugar estates and this scene was repeated in the Chicama, Lambayeque and Cañete Valleys. The Chinese also fought alongside the Chileans in the battles of San Juan-Chorrillis and Miraflores, and there was also rioting and looting by non-Chinese workers in the coastal cities. As Heraclio Bonilla has observed; oligarchs soon came to fear the popular clashes more than the Chileans, and this was an important reason why they sued for peace. [Source: "From chattel slaves to wage slaves: dynamics of labour bargaining in the Americas", by Mary Turner.]

Another group of Chinese settlers came after the founding of Sun Yat-sen's republic in 1912, World War II, and the establishment of Communist rule in 1949.

Modern-day immigration

Recent Chinese immigrants settled in Peru from Hong Kong and, again, Macau because of fear of their return to Communist rule in 1997 and 1999, while others have come from other places in mainland China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asian Chinese communities, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines. Many Chinese Indonesians and Chinese Malaysians came to Peru after anti-Chinese riots and massacres in those countries the 1960s, 1970s, and late 1990s. These recent Chinese immigrants make Peru the home of the largest ethnic Chinese community in Latin America.


Many Chinese Peruvians left Peru in the 1960s and 1970s. Most of them headed to the United States, where they were called Chinese Americans or Peruvian Americans of Chinese descent, while others went to Canada, Spain, mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Australia, or New Zealand.

Role in the economy

After their contracts ended, many of them adopted the last name of their patrons (one of the reasons that many Chinese Peruvians carry Spanish last names). Some freed coolies (and later immigrants) established many small businesses. These included chifas (Chinese-Peruvian restaurants - the word is derived from chī fàn, or "eat meal" in Mandarin). Calle Capón, Lima's Chinatown, also known as Barrio Chino de Lima, became one of the Western Hemisphere's earliest Chinatowns. The Chinese coolies married Peruvian women, and many Chinese Peruvians today are of mixed Chinese, Spanish, and African or Native American descent. Chinese Peruvians also assisted in the building of railroad and development of the Amazon Rainforest, where they tapped rubber trees, washed gold, cultivated rice, and traded with the Indians. They even became the largest foreign colony in the Amazon capital of Iquitos by the end of the century.

Prominent Chinese Peruvians

  • Alfredo Raul Chang Ruiz, Current director of the oldest and still active magazine of Peru called "Revista Oriental",[4] a magazine with the theme of links of Peruvian and Asian communities
  • Eugenio Chang Rodríguez, writer, linguist, university professor (Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos/City University of New York)
  • Juan Pablo Chang Navarro-Lévano (1930–1967) communist student leader and guerrilla, died alongside Che Guevara
  • Rosa Fung Pineda, archaeologist
  • José Antonio Chang, former Prime Minister of Peru
  • Efraín Wong, Operations Manager of the Corporación Wong and founder of Las Falcas distillery.[5]
  • Erasmo Wong, founder and former owner of the Wong supermarket chain
  • Patty Wong, TV host
  • Walter Wong, anthropologist, late Ayacucho Regional Director of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura[6]
  • Annie Yep TV Host, Journalist
  • Pedro S. Zulen (1889–1925), philosopher, university professor (Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos), poet, writer Pedro Zulen[7]
  • Edwin Vasquez Cam, Olympic gold medal Free Pistol (1948)
  • Siu Kam Wen (1951-) Novelist
  • Isabel Wong-Vargas, businesswoman, owner of La Caleta restaurant in Lima, received various gastronomic awards including the Best Seafood restaurant in Lima[8][9]

See also


Further reading

External links

  •, Asociación Peruano China (Web official)

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