The 2000 Census counted 139,820 Chinese people
in Queens, marking them as the largest Asian group
in the borough. Until 1920, Chinese people were
placed into the United States Census’ “other”
category, along with any other group that was
not white or black.
Since 1986, a booming economy in Flushing has
attracted large numbers of Chinese—more
than one-half of Queens’ Chinese population.
While there are still some vibrant Chinese communities
in Ridgewood and Long Island City, the Chinese
mostly congregate in Flushing.
They Got There
The number of Chinese immigrants to the United
States remained small until 1943, when The Chinese
Exclusion Act, which kept America’s doors
closed to Chinese immigrants, was repealed and
replaced with a quota of 105 immigrants per year
from both Mainland China and Taiwan. It was still
rare, however, for the full 105 Mainland Chinese
people to gain leave from China’s government.
In 1946, the War Brides Act allowed Chinese Americans
who fought in the war to bring their wives to
the United States. Many Chinese Americans pooled
their loan monies and opened large wet wash factories,
which employed hundreds of Chinese Americans for
Who They Are
“Chinese people as a whole are becoming
educated and more Americanized,” says Flushing
Chinese Business Association President Fred Fu.
“They’re focused on education. They
send their children to school, and many succeed.
“People that are born in the United States
are American. They’re not Chinese. They
speak English, so they’re American. In 50
years, no one will ask a Chinese person, ‘When
did you come to America?’”
One example of just such a Chinese-American is
Flushing Councilman John Liu, who was elected
in 2001 as New York City Council’s first
“You hear John Liu speak?” Fu asks.
“He’s not Chinese. He’s American.
We are growing here in the country.”
is home to more Chinese-Americans than
Chinatown in Lower Manhattan. photo by
Flushing is currently filled with Chinese signs
and businesses, and major chain stores are taking
an interest in opening in the area. The Flushing
Mall opened in 2001, and members of the Flushing
community are currently exploring the possibility
of making Flushing a Business Improvement District
Councilwoman Julia Harrison was quoted in a 1996
New York Times article as saying the movement
of Asians to Flushing was “an invasion,
not assimilation.” Her comments were met
with uproar from the community, and three Asian-
Americans challenged her council seat—but
she still won re-election by a 61 percent majority.
“Everyone knew of it, but it’s in
the past now,” Fu says of the negative comments.
“Not important. What’s important is
that business is good in Flushing and we’re
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