Fuzhounese Americans

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Fuzhounese Americans
Hók-ciŭ Mī-guók-nè̤ng
Fúzhōu měiguó rén
Total population
150,000 – 300,000 (2016)
Regions with significant populations
New York City (纽约市)
Eastern Min (Hokchew), Standard Mandarin
Buddhism, Taoism, Syncretism, Christianity, Confucianism, Atheism

Fuzhounese Americans, also known as Hokchew Americans or Fuzhou Americans or imprecisely Fujianese, are Chinese American people of Fuzhou descent, in particular from Changle, Fujian Province, People's Republic of China. Many Chinese restaurant workers in the United States are from Fuzhou. There are also a number of undocumented Fuzhounese immigrants in the United States who are smuggled in by organizations like the Snakeheads. Fuzhounese Americans also helped develop the Chinatown bus lines system, which originated as a means to transport restaurant workers from New York City to various parts of the northeastern United States. Fuzhounese Americans are almost singularly concentrated in the U.S. Northeast, unlike other Chinese Americans and Asian American groups; with the vast majority in New York City and on Long Island, but also in Middlesex and Morris counties in New Jersey and in the Boston and Philadelphia metropolitan areas.


People have immigrated to America from Fuzhou as early as the Qing dynasty period. Some of these people were students who, after completing their studies returned to their home country.

After the lifting of emigration restriction from the People's Republic of China in the 1980s, people began leaving the Fuzhou area. Illegal immigration from Fujian province peaked at around 8,000 per month in June 1992. For the second half of 1992 illegal immigration it was about 2500 per month. Migrants were mostly men, but in 1992 around 20-30% of them were women and children. These arrivals were mostly unskilled, agricultural workers. About 80% of these people came from the Changle District of Fuzhou, with smaller numbers coming from Lianjiang and Minhou counties, as well as other places.



Many Chinese restaurant owners and workers are from Fuzhou. The Chinatown buses system originated as a means to transport workers from New York City to various parts of the East Coast, Midwest, and also parts of the southeastern United States. Restaurant owners usually adopted the established American Chinese cuisine, which is somewhat based on Cantonese cuisine, rather than serve Fujian cuisine. These restaurants are usually all-you-can-eat buffets and take-out restaurants.


Many Fuzhounese people also work in the Chinatown garment industry. With time, however, the Fuzhounese population has become upwardly mobile in socioeconomic status. Second Generation Fuzhounese have high rates of educational attainment and often work in professional occupations like tech and finance.


Hokchiu people in the US are almost singularly concentrated in the New York metropolitan area, unlike other Chinese Americans and Asian American groups. The number of Fuzhounese in New York City and nationwide is notably difficult to enumerate precisely, since as many as fifty percent of Fuzhounese immigrants are undocumented and may be reluctant to respond to census takers. One estimate had put the number of Fuzhou people in New York City at over 70,000; however, Einhorn in 1994 estimated that as many as 100,000 Fujianese were living in New York at the time and that an additional 10,000 were entering New York each year. Data from the 2005-2009 American Community Survey suggests there are around 1,450 Fuzhou speakers in the United States, although the number is likely to be far greater as most respondents simply wrote "Chinese".

New York City

Manhattan's Chinatown and Lower East Side

During the 1980s, growing numbers of Fuzhou immigrants started arriving into Manhattan's Chinatown. Due to the fact that Manhattan's Chinatown was mostly Cantonese speaking at the time, many could not integrate well into the enclave and as a result, they began to settle on East Broadway and east of The Bowery, which at the time was not fully developed as being part of Chinatown and was rather an overlapping enclave of Chinese, Latinos, and Jewish populations. Many of the earlier Fuzhou immigrants learned to speak Cantonese in order to get a job and interact with the then Cantonese dominated Chinatown. Slowly, the Little Fuzhou enclave emerged on the eastern borderline of Chinatown, which was still overlapped with some remaining Latino and Jewish populations until it eventually became fully Chinese populated and fully part of Manhattan's Chinatown. However, it resulted in Manhattan's Chinatown becoming subdivided into the older established Cantonese Chinatown in the western portion of Manhattan's Chinatown and newly established Fuzhou Chinatown in the eastern portion of Manhattan's Chinatown; although some long time Cantonese residents, many are older generations and businesses still remain behind in the newly emerged Fuzhou Chinatown.

Hokchiu people have founded business organizations such as the Fuzhou-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In 1998, businesspeople from Changle founded the Changle American Association, which has become one of the most influential community organizations.

Shift to Brooklyn, Queens, and Nassau County

However, due to the gentrification situation of Manhattan's Chinatown since the 2000s, the Chinese population and businesses are declining and moving from the original Chinatown to newer Chinatowns in New York, and the Fuzhou immigrants are also part of this decline as well. Many of Chinese in Manhattan's Chinatown are relocating to the newer Chinese enclaves in Brooklyn, Queens, and Nassau County. However, the Fuzhous that are moving out are mostly relocating to Sunset Park, which now has the largest Fuzhou community in all of New York City, while the Cantonese are moving to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn's newer and growing Chinese enclaves, which are more primarily Cantonese populated.

Brooklyn's Sunset Park Chinatown

Like Manhattan's Chinatown in the past, Brooklyn's Sunset Park Chinatown was primarily Cantonese, but was much smaller and less developed unlike Manhattan's Chinatown, which already had been very large and developed. With the gentrification and lack of available apartment units in Manhattan's Chinatown that came in the 2000s, the growing Fuzhou population shifted to Brooklyn's Sunset Park Chinatown to seek affordable housing and jobs. The shift of the Fuzhou immigration to Brooklyn's Sunset Park Chinatown dramatically expanded the Chinese enclave so prominently that it is now overwhelmingly Fuzhou populated and has far surpassed the size of the Fuzhou enclave in Manhattan's Chinatown. In addition, the Brooklyn Sunset Park Chinatown has overall surpassed the size of Manhattan's Chinatown. Unlike in Brooklyn's Sunset Park Chinatown, where the Fuzhou population has managed to dominate the whole enclave and still quickly growing, the Fuzhou enclave in Manhattan's Chinatown only managed to occupy the eastern portion while the western portion of Manhattan's Chinatown still remains primarily Cantonese.


Andrew Yang, New York City mayoral candidate in 2021, of mixed Fujianese and Taiwanese descent

Political views

Compared to previous Chinese immigrants, Fuzhou Americans tend to have a more favorable view of the People's Republic of China.[citation needed]

While the majority of the Fuzhou population in the US came directly from Fuzhou, some Fuzhou Americans have also descended from Matsu, Fukien Province, R.O.C. and the Hokchiu (Foochowese) diaspora in Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia and Singapore.

"Left behind" children

Some Fuzhounese people give birth to children in the US, and then send their young children back to their hometowns because they are unable to raise children and work at the same time. Because of jus soli laws these children automatically gain American citizenship. These children are called "left-behind" Americans and are usually taken care of by grandparents. They are reunited with their parents in the US once they have reached the age to attend grade school.

Notable people

  • Bing Xin (1900–1999) – one of the most prolific Chinese writers of the 20th Century
  • Chen Zhangliang (1961–) – vice president of Peking University and president of China Agricultural University, vice-governor of Guangxi
  • Jeffrey Yi-Lin Forrest (1959–) – professor of mathematics, systems science, economics, and finance at Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (Slippery Rock campus)
  • William Hung (1893–1980) – Chinese educator, sinologist, and historian who taught for many years at Yenching University, Peking, which was China's leading Christian university, and at Harvard University.
  • Ko Tun-hwa (葛敦華 1921–2010) – geostrategist, former Vice Minister of Defense of Taiwan and former National Policy Advisor to the President of the Taiwan
  • Lin Chen – founder of Summit Import Corporation, one of the largest importers of Asian food on the East Coast
  • Tung-Yen Lin (林同棪 1912–2003) – was a structural engineer who was the pioneer of standardizing the use of prestressed concrete
  • Lin Yaohua (1910–2000) – leading Chinese sociologist and anthropologist
  • Maya Lin (October 5, 1959–) – designer and artist who is known for her work in sculpture and land art, particularly of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Wang Shizhen (王世真; 1916–2016) – Chinese nuclear medicine physician and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). He was known as the father of Chinese nuclear medicine.
  • Victims of the Chen family homicides
  • Wang Wenxing (王文興 1939–) – Taiwanese writer
  • Hsien Wu (吳憲 1893–1959) – Chinese protein scientist
  • Zhang Yuzhe (1902–1986) – Chinese astronomer who is widely regarded as the father of modern Chinese astronomy
  • Andrew Yang – New York City mayoral candidate in 2021, of Fujianese and Taiwanese descent
  • See also