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Chinese Peruvians, also known as tusán (a loanword from Chinese 土生), are people of Overseas Chinese ancestry born in Perumarker, or who have made Peru their adopted homeland.

Most Chinese Peruvians are multilingual. In addition to Spanish or Quechua, many of them speak one or more Chinese dialects that may include Cantonese, Hakka, Mandarin, and Taiwanese. Since the first Chinese immigrants came from Macaumarker, some of them also speak Portuguese.In Peru, Asian Peruvians are estimated at 5% of the population, but one source places the number of citizens with some Chinese ancestry at 4.2 million, which equates to 15% of the country's total population.


Early history

Chinese immigrants in the 19th century, who took a four-month trip from Macaumarker (then a Portuguesemarker territory), settled Peru as contract laborers or "coolies". Other Chinese coolies from Guangdongmarker followed. One hundred thousand Chinese contract laborers, almost all male, were sent mostly to the sugar plantations from 1849 to 1874, for the termination of slavery and continuous labor for the coastal guano mines and especially for the coastal plantations where they became a major labor force until the end of the century. While the coolies were believed to be reduced to virtual slaves, they also represented a historical transition from slave to free labor.

Another group of Chinese settlers came after the founding of Sun Yat-sen's republic in 1912, World War II, and the establishment of Communist rule in 1949.

Modern-day immigration

Recent Chinese immigrants settled in Peru from Hong Kongmarker and, again, Macau because of fear of their return to Communist rule in 1997 and 1999, while others have come from other places in mainland China, Taiwanmarker, and Southeast Asian Chinese communities, including Malaysiamarker, Indonesiamarker, Singaporemarker, and the Philippinesmarker. Many Chinese Indonesians and Chinese Malaysians came to Peru after anti-Chinese riots and massacres in those countries the 1960s, 1970s, and late 1990s. These recent Chinese immigrants make Peru the home of the largest ethnic Chinese community in Latin America.


Many Chinese Peruvians left Peru in the 1960s and 1970s to escape the dictatorial government of Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado, worsening poverty, and earthquake. Most of them headed to the United Statesmarker, where they were called Chinese Americans or Peruvian Americans of Chinese descent, while others went to Canadamarker, mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Australia, or New Zealandmarker.

Role in the economy

After their contracts ended, many of them adopted the last name of their patrons (one of the reasons that many Chinese Peruvians carry Spanish last names). Some freed coolies (and later immigrants) established many small businesses. These included chifas (Chinese-Peruvian restaurants - the word is derived from chī fàn, or "eat meal" in Mandarin). Calle Capón, Limamarker's Chinatown, also known as Barrio Chino de Lima, became one of the Western Hemispheremarker's earliest Chinatowns. The Chinese coolies married Peruvian women, and many Chinese Peruvians today are of mixed Chinese, Spanishmarker, and African or Native American descent. Chinese Peruvians also assisted in the building of railroad and development of the Amazon Rainforest, where they tapped rubber trees, washed gold, cultivated rice, and traded with the Indians. They even became the largest foreign colony in the Amazon capital of Iquitosmarker by the end of the century.

Prominent Chinese Peruvians

Further reading

The most important book about the Chinese immigration to Peru is "En el País de las Colinas de Arena", by Fernando de Trazegnies, published by the Editorial Press of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. This book has been translated into Chinese as Sá Gu Zhi Meng (Beijing, China, 1999).

See also


  1. APCH - Segundo Encuentro Tusán - Los Nuevos Herederos del Dragón - 25/45 - Lima, PERU

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