Chinatown, Suburban Style

‘What is gentrification?’ a community organizer asks Manhattan
teenager Yi Lian Zheng. ‘It is when low-income tenants experience
extremely high rents and are unable to pay,’ Zheng responds, and
moves ahead five spaces on a human-sized game board in the city’s
Columbus Park. The game is called ‘Rent: The Game,’ and was
organized by the Chinatown Tenants Union to educate students about
the sky-high rents that are forcing Chinatown residents to
relocate,
reports Manhattan’s Downtown Express.
But even as local organizations like the Chinatown Tenants Union
try to mobilize residents and lessen the blow of gentrification,
Chinese communities around the country are being squeezed out of
downtown areas en mass. And many are finding new life in the
suburbs.

Recent research suggests that members of these Chinese
communities aren’t getting dispersed and lost in the ‘burbs.
Rather, they’re ‘reconstituting’ their Chinatowns in suburban
settings,
reports Adam Meagher for the Next American
City
. Meagher points to Quincy, Massachusetts, as an
example of the trend. When high rents forced Boston’s Chinatown
residents to relocate, they found a new, affordable home in
suburban Quincy, only a short train ride from work in the city.
Quincy’s slumping economy allowed the urban Chinatown exiles to
purchase homes and punch their ticket into the American
middle-class.

The demographic shift also gave Quincy a much-needed economic
shot in the arm. Meagher notes that after a Wal-Mart put a local
strip mall out of business, the Chinese community revitalized the
abandoned property with a new Chinatown hub that boasts the largest
Asian grocery store in the state. Towns like Quincy and Los
Angeles’ Monterey Park have become ‘ethnoburbs,’ so dubbed by
geographer Wei Li to denote communities vastly altered by
immigrants with global economic connections.

Halfway across the world Chinese investors are finding cozy
suburbs the perfect place to settle down.
State-funded Deutsche Welle reports
that the dull East-German city of Oranienburg just north of Berlin
will be the beneficiary of Europe’s newest Chinatown. Funded by a
mystery Chinese investor, plans are in the works for a new
500-million-euro,  Las Vegas-style Chinatown, including a
hotel, apartments, and even a mini-version of the Great Wall.
Deutsche Welle notes that in addition to the much needed
jolt the Chinatown could give the economy, Oranienburg might also
benefit from a newfound ethnic diversity.

Go there >>
Game Teaches Chinatown Youth the G-word

Go there, too >>
Satellite Chinatown

And there >>
Eastern Germany to Get Shiny New Chinatown

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