China’s Great Migration

From Slate Magazine, a three-part series that looks at the Fujianese who emigrate in mass to the U.S., and where they come from:

The Fujianese are known for their work ethic and entrepreneurial zeal, and the new arrivals fanned across the United States and started businesses. That generic Chinese restaurant in the strip mall near your house? Almost certainly run by Fujianese. Those no-frills “Chinatown buses” that initially linked Eastern seaboard cities and now rival Greyhound, crisscrossing the continent? A Fujianese innovation.

The Fujianese in America work so hard, in fact, that when they have babies—babies who, by virtue of being born on American soil, are U.S. citizens—they don’t have time to raise them. So, they send the babies home, back to the very villages the parents left, to be raised by their grandparents. The babies sitting around me—who begin screaming in unison as the plane nears Fuzhou and begins its descent—are packing something that many of their chaperones lack: U.S. passports.


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