Chinese Trinidadian and Tobagonian

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Chinese Trinidadian and Tobagonians
Anya Ayoung Chee.jpg
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Trinidad and Tobago · United States · Canada
English · Spanish · Mandarin
Related ethnic groups
Chinese Caribbean

Chinese Trinidadian and Tobagonian (sometimes Sino-Trinidadian and Tobagonian or Chinese Trinbagonian) are Trinidadians and Tobagonians of Chinese ancestry. The group includes people from China, Hong Kong and Overseas Chinese who have immigrated to Trinidad and Tobago and their descendants, including those who have emigrated to other countries (especially the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, but also to other countries including China). The term is usually applied both to people of mixed and unmixed Chinese ancestry, although the former usually appear as mixed race in census figures. Chinese settlement began in 1806. Between 1853 and 1866 2,645 Chinese immigrants arrived in Trinidad as indentured labour for the sugar and coco plantations. Immigration peaked in the first half of the twentieth century, but was sharply curtailed after the Chinese Revolution in 1949. After peaking at 8,361 in 1960, the (unmixed) Chinese population in Trinidad declined to 3,800 in 2000.


The Chinese Trinidadian and Tobagonian community is a diverse mixture that includes first-generation immigrants from China, Trinidadians whose ancestors have lived in Trinidad for many generations, and diasporan Trinidadians and Tobagonians, who have primarily settled in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The Chinese Trinidadian community includes people of unmixed and mixed Chinese ancestry, although the latter usually appear as mixed race in census figures in Trinidad and Tobago.[1] Most Trinidadian Chinese can trace their origins to the Guangdong province, especially among the Hakka people.[2]


The Chinese community in Trinidad and Tobago traces its origin to the 12 October 1806 arrival of the ship Fortitude carrying a group of Chinese men recruited in Macau, Penang and Calcutta.[2] This was the first organised settlement of Chinese people in the Caribbean, preceding the importation of Chinese indentured labour by over 40 years.[3] It was intended to be the first step in a plan to establish a settlement of free labourers and peasant farmers in what was then a newly acquired British colony.[1] Royal Navy Captain William Layman suggested that it would be cheaper to establish new sugar plantations using free Chinese labour than it would with African slaves. At the same time, British officials concerned in the aftermath of the Haitian Revolution suggested that the settlement of Chinese immigrants in Trinidad would provide a buffer between the enslaved Africans and the whites.[2]

In December 1805, a Portuguese captain recruited 141 Chinese men in Macau and shipped them to Penang where six more men were recruited. Another 53 men were recruited in Calcutta, bringing the total to 200. The survivors of this group arrived in Trinidad eight months later.[1] Kim Johnson reports that 194 men survived the journey,[1] while Walton Look Lai reports that there were 192 men.[2] The group settled at Surveillance Estate in Cocorite, on the western edge of Port of Spain, the capital. Given the lack of farmland near the city, the group requested permission to hire themselves out as labourers. Fifteen were hired to work as seine fishers, and one worked as a shoemaker. After one year in Trinidad, 17 of the migrants had died. Sixty-one of them departed with the Fortitude in July 1807. By 1810 only 22 of them remained in Trinidad, and only seven remained in 1834, the last time that the community was mentioned.[1]

The abolition of slavery in the British Empire led to labour shortages in Trinidad. Indentured labourers were imported from various parts of the world including India and Madeira. Between 1853 and 1866 2,645 Chinese immigrants arrived in Trinidad – 2,336 men, 309 women and 4 children – on eight ships. These immigrants constituted the second wave of Chinese immigration to Trinidad.[1] The third wave began after the Chinese revolution in 1911 and continued until the Chinese Revolution of 1949. Most of these immigrants were brought to Trinidad and Tobago through the efforts of earlier immigrants. The fourth wave of immigration began in the late 1970s and continues.[4]

Additional immigrants settled in Trinidad after initially migrating to other parts of the Caribbean, especially British Guiana which received 13,593 indentured immigrants from China between 1853 and 1884.[1]

In Trinidad some Chinese men had sexual relations with dark skinned Indian coolie women of Madrasee origin, siring children with them, and it was reported that "A few children are to be met with born of Madras and Creole parents and some also of Madras and Chinese parents - the Madrasee being the mother", by the missionary John Morton in 1876, Morton noted that it seemed strange since there were more Indian coolie men than Indian coolie women that Indian coolie women would marry Chinese men, but claimed it was most likely because the Chinese could provide amenities to the women since the Chinese owned shops and they were enticed by these.[5][6][7][8][9] Indian women were married by indentured Chinese men in Trinidad.[10] Few Chinese women migrated to Trinidad while the majority of Chinese migrants were men.[11] The migration of Chinese to Trinidad resulted in intermarriage between them and others.[12] Chinese in Trinidad became relatively open to having martial relations with other races and Indian women began having families with Chinese in the 1890s.[13]

The situation in Trinidad and British Guiana with Indian women being fewer than Indian men led to Indian women using the situation to their advantage by leaving their partners for other men, leading to a high incidence of "wife murders" by Indian men on their wives, and Indian women and culture were branded as "immoral" by European observers, an Indian man named Mohammad Orfy petitioned as a representative of "destitute Indian men of Trinidad", to the colonial authorities, complaining of Indian women's behavior and claiming that it was "a perforating plague.....the high percentage of immoral lives led by the female section of our satisfy the greed and lust of the male section of quite a different race to theirs........[Indian women] are enticed, seduced and frightened into becoming concubines, and paramours....... [Indian women] have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of the value of being in virginhood......most shameless and a perfect menace to the Indian gentry." with him naming specific peoples, claiming that Indian women were having sex with Chinese men, Americans, Africans, and Europeans,[14][15][16][17][18] saying "Africans, Americans and Chinese in goodly numbers are enticing the females of India, who are more or less subtle to lustful traps augured through some fear of punishment being meted out if not readily submissive as requested."[19][20][21]

The situation on Trinidad enabled unprecedented autonomy in the sexual activities of Indian women and freedom.[22] The 1916 "Petition of Indentured Labourers in Trinidad" complained that: "Is it permissible for a male member of the Christian faith to keep a Hindoo or Muslim female as his paramour or concubine? Is this not an act of sacrilege and a disgraceful scandal according to the Christian faith to entice and encourage Indian females to lead immoral lives?"[22]

Indian men used violence against Indian women in response to Indian women engaging in sexual relations with multiple men due to the shortage of them in Trinidad.[23]

On plantations white European managers took advantage of and use indentured Indian woman for sex,[24] in addition, English, Portuguese, and Chinese men were also in sexual relationships with Indian women as noted by Attorney General W.F. Haynes Smith, while Creole women were abhorred or ignored by Indian men.[25][26] Approval of interracial marriage has slowly increased in Trinidad and Tobago and one Chinese man reported that his Indian wife did not encounter any rejection from his parents when asked in a survey.[27] In Trinidad Europeans and Chinese are seen as acceptable marriage partners by Indians while marrying black men would lead to rejection of their daughters by Indian families.[28]

In British Guiana and Trinidad, white overseers and managers would take advantage of Indian coolie women and use them in sexual relationships, the Indian women were then blamed for these incidents and viewed as allegedly "loose" and promiscuous by colonial officials, and Indian women were subjected to a high rate of "wife murders" by Indian men, the Indian women were also blamed for this due to their "inconstancy" due to alleged low "sexual morality".[29]

In one incident in Trinidad, seven Indian women were impregnated at the same time by an estate manager in 1854.[30][31]

The managers sexual relations with Indian women caused riots, at the most significant one, at the hands of the police, 59 Indians were wounded and 5 Indians were killed, in Non Pareil in 1896, due to an Indian woman cohabiting with Gerad Van Nooten, the acting manager.[32][33][34][35]

The low ratio of Indian women compared to Indian men, along with the factor of Portuguese, white overseers and mangers, and Chinese men having sexual relations with Indian women, aggravated the problem of rivalry for Indian women between Indian men, and drove up the value of Indian women.[36]

In Port of Spain in Trinidad, Chinese coolies were described as going about almost naked while Indian coolie women wore "scanty drapery" and had "arms and ankles covered with bangles".[37]

Prominent Chinese Trinidadian and Tobagonians[edit]

Politics and government[edit]

Business and industry[edit]

  • John Lee Lum, businessman and oil-industry pioneer.[1]
  • William H. Scott, businessman.[1]
  • Carlton K. Mack, grocer and philanthropist.[1]
  • Louis Jay Williams, businessman.[1]
  • Anthony Tom-Ying, Entrepreneur/business man, co-founder Sun Wai Association
  • Maurice Soong, businessman, recipient of the President's Gold Hummingbird Medal for loyal and devoted service to Trinidad and Tobago

Arts and entertainment[edit]

  • Sybil Atteck, painter.
  • André Tanker, musician and composer.[1]
  • Willie Chen, painter.[1]
  • Carlyle Chang Kezia, sculptor, painter and designer;[1] designed the flag and coat of arms of Trinidad and Tobago.[48]
  • Edwin Hing Wan, painter.[1]
  • Raymond Choo Kong, actor, producer, director.[1]
  • Patrick Jones, calypsonian known by the sobriquet Cromwell, the Lord Protector and mas' pioneer.[1]
  • Edwin Ayoung, calypsonian known by the sobriquet Crazy.
  • Richard Chen, calypsonian known by the sobriquet Rex West.[1]
  • Lenn Chong Sing, Former Editor-in-Chief of the Trinidad Guardian newspaper
  • Anthony Chow Lin On, deejay and calypsonian known by the sobriquet Chinese Laundry.
  • Ellis Chow Lin On, music producer and manager.[1]
  • Aubrey Christopher, who pioneered the local recording of calypsos.[1]
  • Stephen and Elsie Lee Heung, Carnival bandleaders.[1]
  • Chris Wong Won, better known as Fresh Kid Ice; founding member of 2 Live Crew.
  • Stephanie Lee Pack, Miss Trinidad & Tobago/Universe 1974
  • Anya Ayoung-Chee, Miss Trinidad & Tobago/Universe 2008, model, fashion designer and winner of season 9 of Project Runway
  • Matthew Soong Bouchard, Trinidad guitarist
  • Raoul Garib, mas' man
  • Boyzie Chee-Mooke, co-founding member Maple Social Club

Science and medicine[edit]


  • Ellis Achong, first Test cricketer of Chinese descent
  • Rupert Tang Choon, Trinidad cricketer, 1940s to 1950s
  • Master Darwin Leon John (martial science teacher) the first Trinidadian to be ordain as a Shaolin Monk by Shaolin Temple China
  • Bert Manhin, winner of Trinidad and Tobago's first medal in shooting (1978 Commonwealth Games)
  • Richard Chin A Poo, former national footballer
  • David Chin Leung, karate pioneer, first Caribbean JKA judge


  • James Chow Bing Quan, first President of Chinese Association 1913, first President of Trinidad branch of Chee Kung Tong 1915/The Chinese FreeMasons of Trinidad (18)
  • Kwailan La Borde, sailor; together with her husband Harold La Borde and son Pierre, the first Trinidadian to circumnavigate the globe.[1]
  • Lyle Townsend, Former Secretary-General, Communication Workers' Union
  • Johnson Tom-Ying

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae Johnson, Kim (2006). Descendants of the Dragon: The Chinese in Trinidad 1806—2006. Kingston, Miami: Ian Randle Publishers. ISBN 976-637-289-6. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Look Lai, Walton (1998). The Chinese in the West Indies: a documentary history, 1806–1995. The Press University of the West Indies. ISBN 976-640-021-0. 
  3. ^ Lai Look, Walton (1993). "The People from Kwangtung (Guangdong)". Trinidad and Tobago Review (Republished by Hakka Chinese Jamaican) 15 (8–9). 
  4. ^ "The Chinese in Trinidad and Tobago". National Library and Information System Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  5. ^ Julitta Rydlewska, Barbara Braid, eds. (2014). Unity in Diversity, Volume 1: Cultural Paradigm and Personal Identity, Volume 1. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 1443867292. Archived from the original on 2014. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  6. ^ Dennison Moore (1995). Origins and Development of Racial Ideology in Trinidad. Nycan. p. 238. ISBN 0968006000. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  7. ^ Selwyn D. Ryan (1999). The Jhandi and the Cross: The Clash of Cultures in Post-creole Trinidad and Tobago. Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, The University of the West Indies. p. 263. ISBN 9766180318. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  8. ^ Rebecca Chiyoko King-O'Riain, Stephen Small, Minelle Mahtani, eds. (2014). Global Mixed Race. NYU Press. pp. 65–66. ISBN 0814770479. Archived from the original on 2014. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  9. ^ Regis, Ferne Louanne (April 2011). "The Dougla in Trinidad's Consciousness" (PDF). History in Action (The University of the West Indies (St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago) Dept. of History) 2 (1). ISSN 2221-7886. Archived from the original (PDF) on Mar 8, 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2015. 
  10. ^ Mike Hoolboom (2013). Mike Hoolboom, ed. Practical Dreamers: Conversations with Movie Artists (illustrated ed.). Coach House Books. p. 315. ISBN 1770561811. Retrieved June 1, 2015.  Text "others" ignored (help)
  11. ^ Rebecca Chiyoko King-O'Riain, Stephen Small, Minelle Mahtani, eds. (2014). Global Mixed Race. NYU Press. p. 54. ISBN 0814770479. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  12. ^ Adrian Curtis Bird (1992). Trinidad sweet: the people, their culture, their island (2 ed.). Inprint Caribbean. p. 26. ISBN 0814770479. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  13. ^ Teresita Ang See, ed. (2000). Intercultural Relations, Cultural Transformation, and Identity: The Ethnic Chinese : Selected Papers Presented at the 1998 ISSCO Conference. International Society for the Studies of Chinese Overseas, Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran (2 ed.). Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran, Incorporated. p. 95. ISBN 9718857214. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  14. ^ Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar (2001). Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, ed. Alternative Modernities. Volume 1 of A millennial quartet book, Volume 11 of Public culture (illustrated ed.). Duke University Press. pp. 263–264. ISBN 0822327147. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  15. ^ Janaki Nair; Mary E. John (2000). Janaki Nair; Mary E. John, eds. A Question of Silence: The Sexual Economies of Modern India (illustrated, reprint ed.). Zed Books. p. 135. ISBN 1856498921. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  16. ^ University of Natal (1997). History and African Studies Seminar series, Issues 1-25. History and African Studies Seminar Series, University of Natal. University of Natal, History and African Studies Seminar. p. 24. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  17. ^ Shobita Jain; Rhoda E. Reddock, eds. (1998). Women Plantation Workers: International Experiences. Volume 18 of Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Women (illustrated ed.). Bloomsbury Academic. p. 44. ISBN 1859739725. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  18. ^ Rhoda Reddock; Christine Barrow (2001). Rhoda Reddock; Christine Barrow, eds. Caribbean sociology: introductory readings. Volume 18 of Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Women (illustrated ed.). Ian Randle. p. 322. ISBN 1558762760. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  19. ^ Shobita Jain; Rhoda E. Reddock, eds. (1998). Women Plantation Workers: International Experiences. Volume 18 of Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Women (illustrated ed.). Bloomsbury Academic. p. 44. ISBN 1859739725. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  20. ^ Cimarrón, Volume 1, Issue 3. Volume 18 of Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Women. City University of New York. Association of Caribbean Studies (illustrated ed.). CUNY Association of Caribbean Studies. 1988. p. 101. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  21. ^ Rhoda Reddock (1984). Women, labour and struggle in 20th century Trinidad and Tobago, 1898-1960 (illustrated ed.). R. E. Reddock. p. 192. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  22. ^ a b Reddock, Rhoda (Oct 26, 1985). "Freedom Denied: Indian Women and Indentureship in Trinidad and Tobago, 1845-1917". Economic and Political Weekly 20 (43): WS-84. JSTOR 4374974. Retrieved 28 June 2015. 
  23. ^ Donette Francis (2010). Fictions of Feminine Citizenship: Sexuality and the Nation in Contemporary Caribbean Literature. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 156. ISBN 0230105777. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  24. ^ Rebecca Chiyoko King-O'Riain, Stephen Small, Minelle Mahtani, eds. (2014). Global Mixed Race. NYU Press. p. 53. ISBN 0814770479. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  25. ^ Basdeo Mangru (2005). The Elusive El Dorado: Essays on the Indian Experience in Guyana (illustrated ed.). University Press of America. p. 37. ISBN 0761832475. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  26. ^ David Dabydeen; Brinsley Samaroo, eds. (1987). India in the Caribbean. Hansib / University of Warwick, Centre for Caribbean Studies publication. David Dabydeen (illustrated ed.). Hansib. p. 216. ISBN 1870518055. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  27. ^ Raeann R Hamon; Bron B Ingoldsby, eds. (2003). Mate Selection Across Cultures. David Dabydeen (illustrated ed.). SAGE Publications. p. 65. ISBN 1452237697. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  28. ^ Colin Clarke; Gillian Clarke (2010). Post-Colonial Trinidad: An Ethnographic Journal. Studies of the Americas (illustrated ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. p. 107. ISBN 0230106854. Retrieved June 1, 2015.  Text "others" ignored (help)
  29. ^ Tejaswini Niranjana (2011). Faith L. Smith, ed. Sex and the Citizen: Interrogating the Caribbean. New World Studies (illustrated ed.). University of Virginia Press. p. 110. ISBN 0813931320. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  30. ^ Walton Look Lai (1993). Indentured labor, Caribbean sugar: Chinese and Indian migrants to the British West Indies, 1838-1918. Johns Hopkins studies in Atlantic history and culture (illustrated ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 144. ISBN 0801844657. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  31. ^ Christine Barrow (1999). Family in the Caribbean: themes and perspectives. Marcus Wiener. p. 343. ISBN 1558762078. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  32. ^ David Dabydeen; Brinsley Samaroo, eds. (1987). India in the Caribbean. Hansib / University of Warwick, Centre for Caribbean Studies publication. David Dabydeen (illustrated ed.). Hansib. p. 125. ISBN 1870518055. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  33. ^ Pillai, Suresh Kumar (2004). "NDENTURED INDIANS Emergence of Hindu identity in Carrbian Countries". p. 29. Retrieved 28 June 2015. 
  34. ^ Pillai, Suresh Kumar. "THE SILENCED MAJORITY: INDIAN CULTURE AND RACIAL CONFLICT IN GUYANA". p. 37. Retrieved 28 June 2015. 
  35. ^ Mahabir, Kumar (May–June 2004). "Indian Arrival Day" 5 (1). Trinidad & Tobago: Indo-Caribbean Cultural Council. p. 52. Retrieved 28 June 2015. 
  36. ^ Ron Ramdin (2000). Arising from Bondage: A History of the Indo-Caribbean People (illustrated ed.). NYU Press. p. 72. ISBN 0814775489. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  37. ^ William Bury Westall (1885). Ralph Norbreck's Trust. Cassell & Company, Limited. p. 179. Retrieved June 1, 2006. 
  38. ^ Hansard, May 23, 2000.
  39. ^ Lindsay Gillette, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  40. ^ Brian Kuei Tung, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  41. ^ Howard Chin Lee, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  42. ^ Eden Shand, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  43. ^ Oswald Hem Lee, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  44. ^ Kenneth Ayoung-Chee, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  45. ^ Desmond Allum, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  46. ^ Lawrence Achong, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  47. ^,201897.html
  48. ^ Chang, Carlyle (1998). "Chinese in Trinidad Carnival". The Drama Review 43 (3): 213–19. JSTOR 1146692. 
  49. ^ a b c d e "Contribution of Trinidad's Chinese to Medicine". Sci-TechKnoFest. NIHERST. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  50. ^ [1]
  51. ^ (

18. James Chow Bing Quan translated Chinese family autobiography

External links[edit]