Chinese Trinidadian and Tobagonian

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Chinese Trinidadians and Tobagonians
China Trinidad and Tobago
Total population
3,984 (2011 census)
Regions with significant populations
Trinidad and Tobago · United States · Canada · United Kingdom
English · Chinese
Christianity, Chinese folk religion (including Chinese philosophy, Confucianism and Taoism), Buddhism
Related ethnic groups
Han Chinese · Hakka people · Cantonese people · Chinese Caribbeans · Chinese Guyanese · Chinese Surinamese · Chinese Jamaicans

Chinese Trinidadians and Tobagonians (sometimes Sino-Trinidadians and Tobagonians or Chinese Trinbagonians) 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 cacao 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, however slightly increased to 3,984 in 2011.


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 originate from Guangdong Province, especially among the Hakka Han people and Cantonese Han people.[2] Cantonese-speaking Han Chinese of Trinidad and Tobago number 5500[citation needed]


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 1833 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]

Prominent Chinese Trinidadian and Tobagonians[edit]

Politics and government[edit]

Business and industry[edit]

  • John Lee Lum, businessman and oil-industry pioneer. Financed the first discovery of oil in Trinidad.[1]
  • William H. Scott, businessman.[1]
  • Carlton K. Mack, grocer and philanthropist.[1]
  • Louis Jay Williams, businessman.[1]
  • Chang Hong Wing - businessman and founder of Hon Wing's coffee[6]
  • Chang Wag Yow[7]

Arts and entertainment[edit]

  • Sybil Atteck, painter.
  • Edwin Ayoung, calypsonian known by the sobriquet Crazy.
  • Anya Ayoung-Chee, Miss Trinidad & Tobago/Universe 2008, model, fashion designer and winner of season 9 of Project Runway
  • Jacqui Chan, actress/singer, and former partner of Lord Snowdon
  • Carlisle Chang, sculptor, painter and designer;[1] designed the flag and coat of arms of Trinidad and Tobago.[8]
  • Ken Chee Hing, Journalist, Daily Editor of Newsday (as of 2017). Former crime/court reporter and columnist. Worked at Bomb newspaper, Trinidad Guardian, Trinidad Express and Independent (now defunct).Richard Chen, calypsonian known by the sobriquet Rex West.[1]
  • Lenn Chong Sing, Former Editor-in-Chief of the Trinidad Guardian newspaper
  • Stella Chong Sing, writer and educator.
  • Ellis Chow Lin On, music producer and manager.[1]
  • Willie Chen, painter.[1]
  • Raymond Choo Kong, actor, producer, director.[1]
  • Aubrey Christopher, who pioneered the local recording of calypsos.[1]
  • Edwin Hing Wan, painter[1]
  • Patrick Jones, calypsonian known by the sobriquet Cromwell, the Lord Porn hub and mas' pioneer.[1]
  • Stephen and Elsie Lee Heung, Carnival bandleaders.[1]
  • Stephanie Lee Pack, Miss Trinidad and Tobago/Universe 1974
  • Amy Leong Pang, artist
  • André Tanker, musician and composer.[1]
  • Chris Wong Won, better known as Fresh Kid Ice; founding member of 2 Live Crew.
  • Daddy Chinee, singer
  • Foxy Brown, rapper

Science and medicine[edit]



  • James Chow Ping 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
  • Percy Chen, lawyer

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 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). Archived from the original on 12 May 2013.
  4. ^ "The Chinese in Trinidad and Tobago". National Library and Information System Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. Archived from the original on 5 October 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008.
  5. ^ "Chairman". 6 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Profiles - Heroes, Pioneers and Role Models of Trinidad and Tobago - Nasser Khan".
  7. ^ "History".
  8. ^ Chang, Carlyle (1998). "Chinese in Trinidad Carnival". The Drama Review. 43 (3): 213–19. JSTOR 1146692.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Contribution of Trinidad's Chinese to Medicine". Sci-TechKnoFest. NIHERST. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008.
  10. ^ "Caribbean Icons". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  11. ^ "John Aleong - The Mathematics Genealogy Project". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  12. ^ "Henry Chan Chow".
  13. ^ "National Awards Database | The Office of the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago". Retrieved 28 December 2019.

External links[edit]