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Chinese Diaspora: Jamaica


Chinese Jamaicans are the descendants of migrants from China to Jamaica.

The first large group of 267 Chinese immigrants arrived in Jamaica from Hong Kong in 1854. Shortly thereafter there were several more groups arriving from Panama, Trinidad, and British Guiana. Some worked in the fields as contract laborers assisting in the planting of coconuts, bananas and sugar. Others started small shops and grocery stores where they sold items such as rice and salt meats, which became staples of the Jamaican diet. In spite of those early groups of migrants, it wasn’t until nearly 100 years later that there was another substantial wave of immigration, and many of the descendants of the early Chinese in Jamaica have moved abroad to Canada and the U.S.. Over the years, Chinese Jamaicans have had a substantial impact on the Island’s business world with families and individuals controlling several restaurant, bakery and supermarket chains. They also had an influence on Jamaican culture, including an involvement with reggae music, which began in the 1960s, and it remains common to see Chinese surnames in liner notes of reggae music. In terms of culinary culture, there has been notable influence throughout the Caribbean, where Chinese flavors help define the character of West Indian cuisine. In fact, what is referred to as “Caribbean Chinese Cuisine” is a popular food style which results from an amalgamation of Cantonese and West Indian cuisines. Sources: Hemlock, Doreen (17 April 2005), "Out Of Many, One People: Chinese-Jamaicans Treasure Their Roots And Their Communities"

Jamaica Gleaner : Pieces of the Past:The Arrival Of The Chinese

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