At roughly six percent of the population, the Chinese in Hawaii are one of the smallest groups in the island. However, there is a large percent of people living in Hawaii that are of part Chinese Hawaiian ancestry. According to the 2000 census the population for Chinese in Hawaii was 52,611. At present, ninety-five percent of all Chinese live in Honolulu and other urbanized areas of Oahu. They have become the most highly concentrated ethnic group in Hawaii. Their success and determination rise much higher. Today the Chinese have become by far the most successful ethnic group in Hawaii.
Although the plantation pay was so little the Chinese people knew that there was some good in it for them. The Chinese people believed that education was the key to success. They wanted to make sure their children got educated enough because their parents wanted them to succeed in life. Today, the Chinese enjoy the highest median of income out of all the ethnic groups in Hawaii.
Like many groups in Hawaii, there is an increasing incidence of marriage outside the ethnic group for the Chinese. In 1977, 64.7% of marriages were to non-Chinese. This included 26.1% to Japanese, 20.7% to Caucasians, 9.8% to part-Hawaiians.
With less strict immigration laws for Asians, there has been an influx in the amount of Chinese coming to Hawaii. For example, between 1970 and 1076, 3156 immigrants from China and Taiwan came to Hawaii. This has made an impact on the Chinese community. There are theaters that exclusively show Chinese movies. There are many Chinese restaurants and shops.
Now in their seventh generation in Hawaii, the Chinese continue to remember their heritage in many ways. Some want to preserve their Chinese identity. However, the Chinese have adapted to the American culture in Hawaii. For many, English is their primary means of communication. They practice Christianity and participate in western business and political customs and practices. In present times, Chinese newcomers have introduced new dialects and foreign languages, colorful ethnic dress, new food, which has been mixed with Hawaii's culture of today. One difference between Hawaii's Chinese and those in China, and even on the mainland is that few are able to speak, read or write in Chinese. However, there are many Chinese language schools in Hawaii.
Presently, many refugees, particularly those of Chinese descent, came to Hawaii because their relatives already resided in the islands. Others were drawn here because of Hawaii's climate and landscape, similar to their homeland. The green card, a means of identification for these immigrants signifies status as a permanent resident alien of the United States, who is eligible for naturalization as a citizen. The United Chinese Society established an English language class on Oahu to teach permanent resident aliens, preparing them for the citizenship examination.
Hiram Leong Fong
One very successful man of Chinese immigrant parents is Hiram Leong Fong. Born on Oct. 15, 1906, the seventh of eleven children, Hiram worked hard to help support his family. Earning money by selling newspapers, shining shoes, and caddying on the golf course. Hiram soon found his way to the University of Hawaii and received his degree and continued on to Harvard University to receive his law degree. After returning to Hawaii he chose his career in public service that would last for well over forty years. He served in the Territorial House for fourteen years, including six as Speaker of the House. In between his career was put on hold while he served during World War II. In 1959 Hiram decided to run for U.S. Senate. Elected to three terms, Senator Fong went on to serve under five presidents. He retired in 1976. He is also known as a founder of Finance Factors, Grand Pacific Life Insurance and Finance Realty. Today Sen. F ong is still active in business and is busy with his 725 acre garden in Kahaluu. A conservation site and tourist attraction, Sen. Fong's Plantation and Garden serves as a living testament of the strong drive, determination and high values instilled into the hearts of Chinese Americans.
When the Chinese people came to Hawaii they didn't leave their ethnic foods, customs, or cultural activities behind. Some cultural foods they still eat is fried rice, stir fry mixed vegetables, soy sauce, chow mein, ginseng rice noodles, sweet and sour chicken, and water chestnut. Manapua a favorite to islanders was also a plantation treat. In the old days the Chinese "Manapua Man" would make his rounds with bamboo containers balanced by a stick on his shoulders. Today, you can order Manapua and dim sum in Chinatown restaurants.
Currently, it is pleasant and colorful while walking through Hawaii's Chinatown. Bright and cheerful stories occupy the once abandoned spaces. Merchants offer a variety of items, that were once unavailable for sale in the islands. Foods are cheaper in Chinatown stores. Fresh produce and fish are offered in many of the merchants' stalls.
Chinese New Year Parade
The Chinese also relied on a calendar called a Lunar Calendar, this calendar shows all the Chinese holidays and festivals. Two of them are, the Dragon Boat Festival, and Chinese New Year which the local Chinese celebrate faithfully every year.
The Chinese of Hawaii today have come a long way since the early plantation days. Because of their strong beliefs on education and strong values, the Chinese of Hawaii are a true example of what hard work, pride, and perseverance can amount to.
Chinese in Hawaii
The Chinese in Hawaii
Hirum L. Fong
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