Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association

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The headquarters of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in San Francisco (a.k.a. Chinese Six Companies) is located on Stockton Street, directly across from the Kuomintang(KMT) headquarters. Due to its traditional association with the KMT, the flag of the Republic of China continues to fly atop the building.

The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) (traditional Chinese: 中華會館; simplified Chinese: 中华会馆; pinyin: zhōnghuá huìguǎn; Jyutping: zung1wa4 wui6gun2 in the Western United States, Midwest, and Western Canada; 中華公所 (中华公所) zhōnghuá gōngsuǒ (Jyutping: zung1wa4 gung1so2) in the East) is a historical Chinese Association established in various parts of the United States and Canada with large populations of Chinese. It is also known by other names such as Chong Wa Benevolent Association in Seattle, Washington and United Chinese Society in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Social, Political, and Economic influence of CCBA[edit]

Since the CCBA inception over 135 years ago it has received a diverse range of publicity from the American media. Much of the attention received often overlooked the inherent cultural differences, which ultimately lead to misunderstanding by much of the American population.[1] This factor and the increasingly anti-Chinese sentiment hastened the need for an empowered Chinese organization in the United States. Thus, the CCBA was formed out of the need for the Chinese to have organized social, political, and economic structures.[1]

From a societal perspective, the CCBA was set up to help the Chinese relocate and travel to and from China. The travel was not limited to living persons, it also included the returning of corpses back to China from the United States.[2] With many families fragmented and dispersed between China and across the U.S., the association additionally allowed for the communal care of the sick or poor who often lacked access to these services.[2] Later years as it became more prominent in society and anti-Chinese sentiment was increasing the United States, the organization offered protection. This included protection via litigation and physical protection. Physical abuse was not uncommon in Chinatown from racist Americans. Such incidents lead to the rise of groups like the Tongs, which were noted to have protected Chinese from abuse by white miners.[2]

The CCBA also exerted its dominance in the political sphere, becoming authorized to speak on behalf of Chinatown throughout the United States.[3] The board of directors of the CCBA became increasingly powerful as it consisted of wealthy merchants and businessmen, who turned their wealth into power.[3] The board had many dealings with local and federal governments, exerted strong influence through a variety of techniques. One of the methods utilized was the use of a caucasian attorney, who was simultaneously the spokesman of the organization, which likely helped reduce the amount of racial pushback that would have been otherwise received.[3]

A large portion of immigrants from China who came to California through the 1800s came for the promise of work in the gold mines. As the gold caused California's economy to excel the Chinese became an integral part of this economy. Eventually, gold mines decreased production and as a source of new jobs. The Chinese found well suited opportunities elsewhere, including but not limited to fishing, food services, farming, and building of railroads.[4] Many in the mid to late 19th century argued that the influx of Chinese immigrants decreased the availability of job prospects for American citizens. However, the job competition theory is argued by the fact that there is a strong language barrier, which ultimately forced many of the Chinese to create their own jobs out of necessity.[5]

San Francisco[edit]

History[edit]

Along with Chinese migration to the United States came new traditions and customs. The establishment of the most prominent support organization for Chinese immigrants were deeply rooted in the huiguan tradition.[6] These organizations were formed on the basis of native-place associations. In 1851 the first huiguan, the Kong Chow Company emerged seeing that the majority of Chinese already settled in California were connected to six districts collectively called Gangzhou.[7] The second huiguan, known as the Sam Yap Company, was established in 1851 and comprised five districts: Nanhai, Panyu, Shunde, Sanshui, and Xingyun.[7] Towards the end of 1851, the third huiguan, the Sze Yap Company was formed and it consisted of four districts: Xinhui, Kaiping, Xinning, and Enpig.[7] In 1852, the Yeong Wo Company was established and it included the three districts: Heung-shan, Tung-kun, and Tsang-shing.[7] Within the same year the Hip Kat company appeared and was composed of Hakka immigrants from four districts: Bow On, Chak Tai, Tung Gwoon and Chu Mui.[7] The Sze Yap company later divided and the Ning Yeung company emerged.[8]

Chinese Six Companies (Chinese: 六大公司) refers only to the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in San Francisco, California.[9]

Early officers of San Francisco's Six Companies in traditional Manchu dress, with riding jackets over changshan.

The six original Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Associations in San Francisco were already operating as separate entities with some degree of mutual coordination[10] before the first Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association was formally established in 1882.[1]

Chinese Six Companies in Chinatown, San Francisco 
  •  Headquarters 
  •  Six Companies 
  •  Later addition 

1
Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association headquarters
2
Sam Yup
3
Yeong Wo
4
Kong Chow
5
Ning Yung
6
Hop Wo
7
Yan Wo
8
Sue Hing

The Six Companies served Chinatown as ambassadors for China by speaking on behalf of the Qing imperial government. They felt that the United States government did not protect their interests. As a result of this, Chinese businessmen from Guangdong formed the Kong Chow (translates to "Pearl River Delta") Association to protect their own interests. When tensions arose between Cantonese people of different dialects and districts, the association split into two groups, which became the first two of the Six Companies. Later, four additional organizations appeared in the 1850s, with offices in prominent neighborhoods in San Francisco.[11] The Six Companies acted as a safety net by providing services for Chinese workers as soon as they arrived to San Francisco. The services provided included: settling disputes, available remittances for relatives in their home villages, and school for the Chinese-language.[11]

The Six Companies consisted of the six most important Chinese district associations of California at that time: the Sam Yup Company, Yeong Wo Company, Kong Chow Company, Ning Yung Company, Hop Wo Company, and Yan Wo Company.[12] Among their early efforts, they attempted to deter prostitution in the Chinese community, to encourage Chinese immigrants to lead moral lives, and to discourage what they described as excessive continuing Chinese immigration creating hostility toward Chinese already in America.[13] The Six Companies also provided assistance such as creating a safety net for Chinese workers, helping out when they were sick, leading them money when needed. They also opened a Chinese-language school settled disputes amongst members, maintained a Chinese census, and helped send remittances to members back to their home villages through district associations.[11] In 1875, they endorsed the position that continued Chinese immigration was resulting in a general lowering of wages, both for whites and for Chinese already in America.[14]

Immigration in the 1960s[edit]

Though the Six Companies discouraged the continuing immigration of Chinese to America, it continued throughout the years. In the 1960s, discrimination began to arise within these Chinese communities. Assimilation of Chinese communities increased through the years, and caused a cultural clash within the Chinese communities between newly immigrated people and those who were American-born and have assimilated to the culture. Many new Chinese immigrants often came to America without savings because most of their money was spent on their transportation to the United States. Many immigrant children were also affected by these conditions, having to work when they are not in school and struggling to learn English. This led to many of the children of new immigrants dropping out and joining gangs. These gangs were often involved in numerous acts of violence that occurred in Chinatown. Though this was the life that was led by many of these gangs, they also asked for help. In 1968 during a Human Rights Commission hearing held at San Francisco, the Wah Ching gang asked for a community clubhouse and a two-year program to help them gain vocational skills and earn high school diplomas. The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association advised the Human Rights Commission: "They have not shown that they are sorry or that they will change their ways. They have threatened the community. If you give in to this group, you are only going to have another hundred immigrants come in and have a whole new series of threats and demands."[15] As a result of this, the Concerned Chinese for Action and Change was founded in 1968 to emphasize the social issues that existed in their community and to push the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association to make changes in the system.

New York City[edit]

The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in New York

In New York City, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) was established in 1883.[16] The parent organization of the Chinese Community Centre, the CCBA was founded in 1883 and has represented and served the needs of Chinese Americans in New York City ever since. Historically it has performed a quasi-governmental role in the Chinese community. Throughout its history, business ownership has been a goal of many residents of Chinatown, and has been supported both financially, and through training, by the CCBA. Today there are local CCBA agencies in 26 cities with substantial Chinese populations across North America.

Currently, the CCBA represents the Chinese Americans living in the Greater New York Metro area. Internally, the CCBA is the hinge that keeps the Chinese American community intact and vigorous. Specifically, the CCBA:

  • Provides social services
  • Provides personal and commercial conflict resolution and mediations
  • Promotes Chinese traditions and cultural heritage
  • Serves as a bridge between Chinese American immigrants and the mainstream groups
  • Promotes Chinese American interests
  • Engages in charitable activities
  • Sponsors educational and recreational activities
  • Sponsors and promotes youth services
  • Provides and advocates for small businesses

In New York City, the CCBA is an umbrella organization of 60 member organizations representing a cross-section of New York’s Chinese community. They include professional and trade organizations such as the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese American Restaurant Association; civic organizations such as the American Legion, Lt. Lam Lau Post; religious, cultural and women’s organizations; fellow-provincial organization such as the Hoy Sun Ning Yung Association and the Lin Sing Association; and family organizations such as the Lee, Eng, and Chan Family Association.

CCBA spearheaded the move to form the Chinese Voters Federation in May 2004 to encourage qualified Chinese American citizens to register and vote in the 2004 Presidential election, a community-wide effort that produced an increase of 24.2% in the number of Chinese American voters in Chinatown. It strongly supported the formation of the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation, the Asian Job Service Employer Committee and the Greater New York Chinese Community Dollars for Scholars program, all of which benefit the Chinese communities in many important ways.

Immediately following the earthquake and tsunami disasters in south Asia, CCBA led an emergency community-wide campaign to raise much-needed funds for the victims, a drive that raised more than $500,000 for the American Red Cross Emergency Response Fund. In September 2005, right after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, CCBA and Sing Tao Daily joined together and raised $170,000 for the victims.

Recently, CCBA solidified the relations with different City departments and agencies to solve many on-going problems in Chinatown, including insufficient parking spaces, illegal enforcement of parking regulations, confusing sanitation enforcement regulations, etc. Working closely with the NYPD, the NYPD community affairs bureau now hosts monthly seminars on different safety topics at the CCBA. Its efforts have resulted in the establishment of a direct channel to the government without language barriers.

The CCBA also works with many mainstream organizations to provide services to the Chinese American community, such as the Visiting Nurse Service of New York and the American Cancer Society. In December 2006, CCBA and the American Red Cross of Greater New York signed a Memorandum of Understanding to coordinate programs in Chinatown that will help prepare and train the Chinese community for any kind of emergency.

The CCBA fulfills its functions by working closely with local businesses and residents as well as by maintaining close contact with Chinese American organizations located throughout North America and integration into the mainstream of American society.

Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England[edit]

The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England, popularly known as CCBA, is a tax-exempt organization established in 1923. Currently with 35 members consisting of family associations and community organizations, CCBA serves as the umbrella organization for the Chinese communities of New England. Originally located at 14 Oxford Street, it relocated to its current address at 90 Tyler Street in the 1980s when the City of Boston sold the building that was the Quincy Elementary School to CCBA for one dollar.

A president, an English secretary, a Chinese secretary, a treasurer, and an auditor complete the executive board of directors who manage the daily affairs of CCBA with the help of several office workers. Unlike the 43 members of the board of directors who are delegate representatives from member organizations, the 5 members of the executive board is elected by the board of directors biennially.

CCBA is also home to two family associations, a federal credit union, Chinese and English classes, a magazine and media services group, and the well-known Chinatown Crime Watch program, where volunteers patrol the streets of Chinatown daily to provide the ever-present vigilance needed to keep crime rate at a minimum around the neighborhood.

Besides sponsoring activities, CCBA manages Tai Tung Village and Waterford Place, apartment complexes that provide the much needed affordable housing to the Chinese community. Partnering with Chinatown Main Street and other organizations, CCBA coordinates activities such as the lion dance celebration for the Lunar New Year, the annual August Moon Festival to attract visitors to Chinatown to further economic growth in Chinatown, and hosts dignitary visits to the Chinatown community.

Seattle[edit]

Chong Wa Benevolent Association, Seattle

In Seattle, Washington, the Chong Wa Association was established around 1915.[17] New information however shows that it was already in existence in 1892. (see link below: Chinese in Northwest America Research Committee).

Vancouver[edit]

Branches[edit]

Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, San Diego
Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, Chicago
Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, Washington, DC

The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association has several branches in the United States and Canada including in:[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Lai, Him Mark. "Historical Development of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association/Huiguan System" (PDF). The Him Mark Lai Digital Archive. Chinese Historical Society of America. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Six Companies - FoundSF". www.foundsf.org. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  3. ^ a b c "San Francisco Chinatown: Chinese in California". bancroft.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  4. ^ "Chinese Six Companies". Immigration to the United States. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  5. ^ "Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association". www.ccbanyc.org. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  6. ^ "Huiguan". Retrieved 2 February 2018. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Qin, Yucheng. The Diplomacy of Nationalism: the Six Companies and China's Policy toward Exclusion. University of Hawaii Press, 2009
  8. ^ Chang, I. (2003). The Chinese in America: a narrative history. New York: Viking.
  9. ^ "The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association/Huiguan System", p. 62 in Him Mark Lai, Becoming Chinese American, Rowman Altamira (2004). ISBN 0-7591-0458-1.
  10. ^ "A Memorial…", p. 18–23 in [Yung et al. 2006], is an example of a document jointly issued by the Six Companies as early as 1876.
  11. ^ a b c Chang, Iris (2004). The Chinese in America: A Narrative History. United States of America: Penguin Books. p. 86. ISBN 0142004170. 
  12. ^ [Yung et al. 2006] p. 23.
  13. ^ [Yung et al. 2006] p. 20 et. seq.
  14. ^ [Yung et al. 2006] p. 25.
  15. ^ Chang, Iris (2004). The Chinese in America. United States of America: Penguin Books. pp. 261–70. ISBN 9780142004173. 
  16. ^ CCBA (New York) official site.
  17. ^ Chong Wa Association (Seattle) on vrseattle.com
  18. ^ The C.C.B.A. in North America

Citations[edit]

External links[edit]