Chinese Trinidadian and Tobagonian

Chinese Trinidadian and Tobagonians
George Maxwell RichardsAnya Ayoung-Chee
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Trinidad and Tobago · United States · Canada · United Kingdom

English · Spanish · Mandarin · Cantonese

Related ethnic groups

Chinese Caribbean

Chinese Trinidadian and Tobagonian (sometimes Sino-Chinese Trinidadian and Tobagonian) are Trinidadians and Tobagonians of Chinese descent. The group includes people from China 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.



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 people.[2]


The Chinese community in Trinidad and Tobago traces its origin to the October 12, 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]

Prominent Chinese Trinidadian and Tobagonians

Politics and government

Business and industry

  • John Lee Lum, businessman and oil-industry pioneer.[1]
  • William H. Scott, businessman.[1]
  • Carlton Mack, grocer and philanthropist.[1]
  • Louis Jay Williams, businessman.[1]

Arts and entertainment

  • Sybil Atteck, painter.
  • André Tanker, musician and composer.[1]
  • Willie Chen, painter.[1]
  • Carlyle Chang, sculptor, painter and designer;[1] designed the flag and coat of arms of Trinidad and Tobago.[14]
  • 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
  • Tony 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 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


  • Ellis Achong, first Chinese test cricketer.
  • Rupert Tang Choon, famous test cricketer, 1940s to 1950s
  • Bert Manhin, winner of Trinidad and Tobago's first medal in shooting (1978 Commonwealth Games)
  • Richard Chin A Poo former National Footballer


  • Kwailan La Borde, sailor; together with her husband Harold La Borde and son Pierre, the first Trinidadian to circumnavigate the globe.[1]

See also


  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. ^ Hansard, May 23, 2000.
  6. ^ Lindsay Gillette, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  7. ^ Brian Kuei Tung, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  8. ^ Howard Chin Lee, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  9. ^ Lawrence Achong, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  10. ^ Desmond Allum, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  11. ^ Eden Shand, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  12. ^ Oswald Hem Lee, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  13. ^ Kenneth Ayoung-Chee, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
  14. ^ Chang, Carlyle (1998). "Chinese in Trinidad Carnival". The Drama Review 43 (3): 213–19. 
  15. ^ a b c d e "Contribution of Trinidad's Chinese to Medicine". Sci-TechKnoFest. NIHERST. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  16. ^ [1]

External links

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