Third Wave

From the last two decades of the 19th century and especially between 1910 and 1940, years which coincided with the domestic social turmoil in post-imperial China, another contingent of Chinese migrants made their way to the West Indies and elsewhere in Latin America. Between the 1920’s and 1940’s Chinese immigration increased significantly in Trinidad. These came as free migrants usually on the basis of some family or district connection in the islands and they gravitated right into the petty trading community, bypassing the earlier agricultural option of their predecessors. These migrants and their descendants became the basis of the modern Chinese communities of the West Indies. From their mercantile base, many of their children opted for the classic modern mobility options as they settled into their new Western- oriented societies. By the 1940’s much progress had been made and the Chinese stood as an example of a successful immigrant minority group within West Indian colonial society, building on achievement of their nineteenth century predecessors. In addition to the immigrants from China there were also immigrants from other parts of the Caribbean region – mainly Guyana. These were Chinese who had originally served their indentureship on the mainland. Once their period of indentureship was finished they migrated to Trinidad to seek better opportunities. Migration ceased completely during the period of the Chinese Revolution. However, during the late 1970’s when China started opening up to the outside world, migration resumed once more. This was the fourth wave and continues on a small scale up to today.

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Source: [Look Lai, Walton “The Chinese in the West Indies 1806 – 1995: A Documentary History” University of the West Indies Press, 1998.]

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