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Chinese emigration to 1948

Migration A–Z


  1. Craig A. Lockard

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm130

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Lockard, C. A. 2013. Chinese emigration to 1948. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


Hundreds of temples in Chinese communities worldwide honor Tianhou (Mazu), the Taoist protective goddess of sailors, fishermen, and traveling merchants who made possible Chinese emigration over the past millennium. Pushed by necessity and drawn by opportunity, Chinese have long migrated into nearby Asian regions and eventually beyond Asia in search of work or commercial opportunities. The majority went as temporary sojourners, hoping to return wealthy but many became permanent settlers in their new homes. Today over 30 million people of Chinese descent live outside their ancestral homeland while millions in China have relatives or ancestors who have resided abroad. In addition to Southeast Asia, home to perhaps 25 million ethnic Chinese today, the emigrants also eventually established substantial communities in the Americas, Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, Japan, Europe, and parts of Africa. The emigration of Chinese and other Asians into distant lands constituted an important social and economic development in modern world history.


  • diaspora;
  • Asia;
  • identity politics;
  • foreign interventionism;
  • social change