Chinese, Cubans share long history

CCTV News

Chinese, Cubans share long history

Ethnic Chinese have been a presence in the Caribbean nation since the 19th century.

CCTV America’s Michael Voss also bring us this report on how cultural ties between Cuba and China go well beyond ideology and commerce.

Chinese, Cubans share long history

Chinese, Cubans share long history

Ethnic Chinese have been a presence in the Caribbean nation since the 19th century. CCTV America's Michael Voss also bring us this report on how cultural ties between Cuba and China go well beyond ideology and commerce.

A visit by such a senior official from Beijing provided an opportunity for the dwindling community of Cubans of Chinese descent to get together to enjoy their cultural heritage.

At the head table, two Cuban-Chinese generals who fought in the Cuban revolution alongside Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra Mountain.

An estimated 150,000 Chinese emigrated to Cuba in the 19th century to work on the plantations and later to build the railroads.

More came in the 20th century, this time wealthier merchants and businessmen, who helped develop Chinatowns in several Cuban cities.

Havana’s Chinatown is located in what is today a rundown part of city. In its prime, though, this was the largest and most vibrant Chinatown in the Americas, outside of San Francisco, California.

Today there are still outward signs of its former glory. Most of the wealthy Chinese-Cubans left the country after the Revolution.

Of the tens of thousands of Chinese who came here, just 150 or so, mainly elderly ethnic Chinese descendants remain. The majority of the early arrivals were men who ended up marrying former slaves.

Today their presence can be seen in thousands of Cubans, like General Chui, with a mix of black and Chinese features.

Chinese culture and traditions are also popular here among ordinary Cubans, very few of these performers have any Chinese roots at all.