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CHP-123-The History of the Chinese in Mexico

Posted on Sep 3, 2013 | 10 comments

A Chinese restaurant located in La Chinesca, the Chinatown of Mexicali, Baja California Norte

A Chinese restaurant located in La Chinesca, the Chinatown of Mexicali, Baja California Norte

After the longest delay in between CHP episodes ever, we resume our Chinese history voyage. This time we look at a topic that isn’t particularly well-known but offers a glimpse of one sliver of the Chinese diaspora that began once the Qing Dynasty began to fall on hard times.    The story of the Chinese Mexicans is typical in some respects.  They came to Mexico either because they wanted to and saw it as a land of opportunity or they came because it was the next best thing to emigrating to the United States.  Many stayed in Mexico despite great hardships and the usual racism directed against them.  But most either moved on to try their luck in the US or they were forced out by racist and nationalistic anti-Chinese immigration policies.  I suggest three books if you are interested to read more about this subject:

The Chinese In Mexico 1882-1940 by Robert Chao Romero published by the University of Arizona Press

Making the Chinese Mexican – Global Migration, Localism and Exclusion in the US-Mexico Borderlands by Grace Peña Delgado, published by Stanford University Press and Chinese Mexicans

Transpacific Migration and the Search for a Homeland 1910-1960 by Julia María Schiavone Camacho published by University of North Carolina Press.

Any amigos Mexicanos who want to consider producing a Mexican History Podcast should get moving. Yours is a great history and culture that a lot of English speakers in the history podcast listening community would love to know about.  My apologies to all for my Gringo accented Spanish in this episode.


Estados Unidos Mexicanos – Official name of Mexico, the United States of Mexico

Sonora – Northern State in Mexico

Baja – Refers to Baja California, the northern of the two states that make up the Baja Peninsula.  Baja California Sur is the southern state.

Hermosillo – Capital of Sonora State

Nogales – Major city in Sonora located on the border with Arizona

Magdalena – City in Sonora

Obregon – City on Sonora

Guaymas – coastal city in Sonora

La Chinesca – The Chinatown of Mexicali

El Barrio Chino – The Chinatown of Mexico City

Zhonghua Huiguan 中华会馆  The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association

Da Lusong 大吕宋 Big Lusong, what the Chinese called Mexico

Xiao Lusong 小吕宋  Small Lusong, what the Chinese called the Philippines

Porfirio Díaz Long serving 29th president of Mexico, ushered in a period of modernization and economic growth.

Benito Juarez 26th president of Mexico

Compañia de Colonización Asiatica The company given the exclusive right to import Chinese labor

Matias Romero Mexican politician and government official, lobbied hard for the passing of the Treaty of Amity & Commerce.

Tlaxcala Very small state in Mexico located in the east-central part of the country.

Chihuahua Northern Mexican state.  Borders New Mexico and West Texas

La Migra The slang word used to call the US Immigration and Customs Service

Chin Pinoy Six Companies agent in Cuba

guanxi 关系 Personal relationships and a whole lot more

Revolución Mexicana The Mexican Revolution

fronterizos The Mexican Chinese who toughed it out in the northern states.

Partido Revolucionario Institucional  The PRI, Mexico’s dominant political party for over 70 years.

José Mária Arana The champion for the cause of expelling all Chinese from Mexico.  A leader of the anti-Chinese movement

Comité Directivo de Antichinismo Nacional One of many organizations dedicated to expelling the Chinese from Mexico.

La Liga Nacional Obrera Antichina  Another organization dedicated to expelling the Chinese from Mexico.

Movimento Anti-Chino The Anti-Chinese Movement (in Mexico)

Coahuila Northern Mexican state that borders Texas

Durango Northwest Mexican state.

Torreón Located in the western part of Coahuila State

Francisco Madero Mexican statesman and revolutionary, assassinated in 1913.

El Presidente The president

Alvaro Obregon 39th president of Mexico

Francisco S. Elias Governor of Sonora 1929-193

Rodolfo Elias Calles  Governor of Sonora 1931-1935

Lázaro Cárdenas  44th president of Mexico 1934-1940


  1. Shame thinking of the kind of bloody past that occurred simply due to racism and ignorance.

    • Unfortunately it’s a fact of life wherever races and cultures mix.

  2. Great podcast. What was the name of the Supreme Court decision? It sounded like US v. Ju Toi, but I’m having trouble with the spelling.

  3. You know, it is something different for me to listen to your episode or read the article, it always could give me some new words, that is a good thing for me though I forgot the words so easily!

  4. I enjoyed your speech today and was inspired to do something to spread Chinese culture myself. You have a good sense of humor. Good luck on your podcast project.

    • Thank you!

  5. Hi, I am the reporter from China Press.(美国《侨报》,we also have the English website “sino-us” ).After reading your podcast, we are really interested in your experiences. Would you like to be interviewed? Thank you.

  6. Greatly enjoyed podcasts on State of EU an Oracle bones. Cannot find links to other podcasts e.g. Shang Dynasty. 015. Do you have a subscription service?


    • Hi Bob: Everything and everything is available at my website, in the iTunes Store and in Stitcher. You can subscribe in the iTunes Store if you like.

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