A Historical Guide to China and Chinese Immigration to Cincinnati

Week 4 – World Affairs Council Cultural Guides

Jin Kong, Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce Board Chair, has been working at the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) for six months through a fellowship with The Mission Continues. He is looking to “receive a better understanding of the populist sentiment towards immigrants in Cincinnati.” Through this research, Kong will be sharing weekly blog posts through GCWAC’s website on Chinese culture in Cincinnati. Click here to read more of his blogs.

China – Part 1 – A Historical Guide to China and Chinese Immigration to Cincinnati

Terracotta

China’s recorded history began some four-thousand years ago. Three dynasties preceded the unification of China in 221 BCE: Xia (2070 BCE), Shang (1600 BCE), Zhou (1046 BCE). The Zhou period is a time of flourishing civilization. The writing was codified and ironwork became more sophisticated. China saw the rise of philosophers such as Confucius and Lao-Zi (Taoism) in this period.

During the mid-Zhou dynasty, power was decentralized and China entered what is known as the “Spring and Autumn Waring Period” (722-221 BCE). Sun-Zi and The Art of War emerged during this time. China was fractured into seven kingdoms. In 221 BCE, the Kingdom of Qin subdued the other six and proclaimed its king, Ying Zheng, the First Emperor of China – “Qin ShiHuang.”

During Qin ShiHuang’s reign, writing and measurements were unified under a single system; government rule was centralized; trade was made easier by uniformed currency and standardized width of cart-wheels. Qin-ShiHuang was also famous for building the first section of The Great Wall of China and his “Terracotta Army” which accompanied him to his tomb.

Many dynasties followed Qin. Most notably the Tang Dynasty, which was known as China’s golden age (618-907 AD); the Song Dynasty, which saw great scientific and technological advancements (960-1279 AD); and Ming Dynasty, which saw the completion of the Great Wall and the Forbidden City (1368-1644 AD). The last dynasty of China, (Qing) was ruled by the Manchus and ended in 1911. The Qing dynasty was succeeded by China’s modern republic age and eventually saw the rise of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

During the Qing dynasty (in 1868), the United States and China entered into the Burlingame Treaty. This treaty established a formal relationship between the two countries. China was granted “most favored nation” status and immigration were encouraged. The first wave of Chinese immigrants arrived in the United States between the 1850s to 1880s. They mostly settled along the coasts (in California or New York). Most Chinese immigrants were labors working to build railroads.

In the 1870s, there were repeated efforts to limit Chinese immigration to the United States. The Fifteen Passenger Bill of 1879 limited the number of Chinese passengers to 15 in any single voyage to the United States. President Rutherford B. Hayes vetoed the bill because it violated the terms of the Burlingame Treaty.

Chinese Exclusion

Following the veto, President Hayes sent James Burrill Angell to China and he successfully negotiated a new treaty allowing restrictions on Chinese immigration. Following the Angell Treaty of 1880 was the passage of the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This Act was not repealed until 1943 under the Magnuson Act. Following the repeal, the second wave of Chinese immigrants to the US began from the late 1970s to the present.

The first Chinese migrants in Ohio were mostly descendants of Chinese immigrants who had settled on the West Coast. A majority of them moved to northeastern Ohio (Cleveland area). Some came to Cincinnati and made this region their home. According to a local new paper report of the Census Bureau account, there were 17 Chinese living in Cincinnati in 1910 (“SEVENTEEN CHINESE: And Seven Japanese Lived in Cincinnati in 1910, Report Says.” SPECIAL DISPATCH TO THE ENQUIRER, Nov 28, 1914). However, as early as 1894, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Chinese New Year Celebration by about 30 Chinese men led by a laundry shop owner Sam Kee (“‘SUN NIN,’: The Chinese New-Year’s Day, Celebrated By Cincinnati Celestials with Much Eclat.” Cincinnati Enquirer, Feb 6, 1894). In 1876, the first Chinese American reportedly voted in Cincinnati. (“The First Chinese Voter.” Cincinnati Enquirer, Apr 4, 1876). In 1912, the Enquirer reported the first woman and child immigrant moving to Cincinnati (“CHINESE: Wife and Child Coming To Take Up Their Residence in Cincinnati – Similar Distinction May Be Given Covington.” Cincinnati Enquirer, Sep 26, 1912). In 1914, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported  the first Chinese Baby born here to Mr. and Mrs. Wong Yie at their Vine Street restaurant (“CHINESE BABY, First To Be Born in Cincinnati, Is Christened Wong Gut Ting in Fathers Home.” Cincinnati Enquirer, Jun 8, 1914).

Today, thousands of Chinese descendants call the Greater Cincinnati region their home. Thousands more immigrate to Cincinnati to work or attend school. There are more than a dozen active Chinese community organizations in this region doing all sorts of charitable work. Most notably, the Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Cincinnati Chinese Society, the Chinese American Association of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Chinese Church, and the Cincinnati Chinese Culture Learning Association.

Jin Kong is a fellow through Mission Continues working with GCWAC. Original articles found here.

The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) is a 501(c)(3) international non-profit organization that builds global understanding and promotes international awareness through education, information, and exchange of people and ideas. We work in cooperation with the government, companies, as well as cultural and educational bodies. CLICK HERE for more information.

The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. Their operations in cities across the country deploy veteran volunteers alongside non-profit partners and community leaders to solve some of the most challenging issues facing our communities: improving community education resources, eliminating food deserts, mentoring at-risk youth and more. Through this unique model, veterans build new skills and networks that help them successfully reintegrate into life after the military while making long-term, sustainable transformations in communities and inspiring future generations to serve. CLICK HERE for more information.

Cincinnati 10th Best Metro Area for STEM Professionals

Greater Cincinnati was named the 10th Best Metro Area for STEM Professionals in a recent study from the leading personal finance outlet WalletHub.com.

On the heels of our earlier report on the Best & Worst Cities to Find a Job, WalletHub analyzed the 100 most populated metropolitan statistical areas across 11 key metrics to help STEM professionals find the best markets for their valuable occupations. Our data set ranges from job openings per capita for STEM graduates to annual median wage growth for STEM jobs.

STEM Job Market in Cincinnati (1=Best; 50=Avg.)

36th – STEM Employment Growth
24th – STEM High Schools Index
16th – Annual Median Wage for STEM Workers (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
7th – Housing Affordability for STEM Professionals
22nd – Unemployment Rate for People with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher

Chinese Chamber Added to Ranks of Cincinnati Mayor’s Immigration Task Force

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley kicked off his immigration task force July 24 and the Chinese Chamber has been added to the ranks.

The mayor surrounded himself with about 80 of the volunteers who will make up this task force during a press conference in the marbled corridors of Music Hall this month and he made it quite clear that his focus is direct foreign investment.

It’s been a project of his since the beginning; the endeavor is just now gaining traction.

Attracting more foreign-born people to live, work and invest here makes the region more competitive. And it draws new sources of capital, innovation, productivity and excitement, Cranley said.

The Chinese Chamber has been added to the committee chaired by Bob Stevie, treasurer of Cincinnati Sister Cities, to attract foreigners to Cincinnati for possible investment and immigration.

Strikingly enough, the Chinese Chamber’s membership committee has been working on a program for which Stevie has shown much approval. In fact, a member of the membership committee is in China right now pitching the idea of tourist packages to Cincinnati. He will be speaking with Chinese tourism agencies and government officials about the opportunity.

The goal of this tourism program is to collaborate with local organizations to put together a lovely sightseeing package and set aside optional time for viewing residential areas, schools, universities, hospitals, etc. We want to capture some of the billions of dollars that are spent by Chinese tourists travelling abroad, and if possible, entice them to live and work here.

After all, Cincinnati is far behind more vibrant cities in the nation of similar size when it comes to percentage of the population that was born abroad. Cincinnati’s percent of foreign-born residents stands at just 5 percent, compared to 13 percent nationwide. To become greater, Cincinnati needs more diversity. The Chinese Chamber will lend its strength to that effort.