US Chinatowns face pricing pressure
Chinatowns in various US cities are becoming gentrified, with more Chinese immigrants moving out of the increasingly pricey residential zones, according to a report issued by the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY).
More than 3,000 Chinese residents once lived in Washington’s Chinatown, but that number has shrunk to approximately 300 and is expected to fall to 150 in the next few years, according to AABANY.
Chinatowns in other US cities also face similar dilemmas. Statistics showed that the white population in Chinatowns doubled in the first decade of the 21st century.
Kwong Chichoong, professor of urban affairs and planning at Hunter College in New York, said that only three of the top 15 Chinatowns in the US still function as Chinese residential and working zones.
“As long as the Chinatown is getting gentrified further and the rents continue rising, most of the remaining Chinese residents will have to move out,” Kwong said. “Pessimistically speaking, Chinatown could become a tourist spot in the future.”
Emma Deng, a resident of Washington’s Chinatown who immigrated from the Chinese mainland in the late 1990s, said that she chose to live in Chinatown so that she could live in a more traditional Chinese way.
“When I first settled in DC, there were more grocery stores, traditional Chinese dim sum restaurants and even more homelike shops, but now most have gone,” she said.
Near the paifang (arch) at the entrance to the US capital’s Chinatown are numerous nonChinese businesses such as Starbucks and Hooters.
“After the arena and the Metro station were opened, the fastfood chains moved in, and the neighborhood died away, or at least to the suburbs of DC,” said Jim Gordon, a local resident who has lived in the area some four decades.
Long Yifan in New York contributed to this story.
The Friendship Archway in Washington DC’s Chinatown in 2013.