A look at the large Chinese influence on the U.S. West coast

Insight

Chinese Americans are driving much of the growth on the US West Coast.
CCTV America’s Chris Casquejo reported this story from Bellevue, Washington.

A look at the large Chinese influence on the U.S. West coast

A look at the large Chinese influence on the U.S. West coast

Chinese Americans are driving much of the growth on the US West Coast. CCTV America's Chris Casquejo reported this story from Bellevue, Washington.

An increasing number of businesses have Chinese-language signs in Bellevue, Seattle’s largest suburb.

Conrad Lee, a Chinese-American retired Boeing engineer, has served on city council for 21 years.

He estimated Bellevue’s Asian-American population was less than five percent two decades ago.

The latest government census figures, from 2010, put the number at more than 27 percent, but it’s believed to be even higher now.

Lee and others say the popular 2013 comedy romance movie “Finding Mr. Right,” directed by a Chinese filmmaker, put the area on the map for many Chinese-Americans.

It showed the journey of a Beijing woman who moves to Seattle. The original title translates as “Beijing Meets Seattle.”

It was Bellevue’s highly-ranked schools that made many of them want to stay and raise their families here.

“They know that their kids can count on a good education. A lot of the kids when they finish Bellevue High school, they can go to the top schools anywhere in the United States, Ivy League and what not,” Bellevue City Council Member Conrad Lee said.

More than a thousand of the school district’s 19,000 students speak either Mandarin or Cantonese.

As of 2011, Asian Americans made up 5.8 percent of the U.S. population, numbering 18.2 million. Chinese-Americans are the largest Asian-American group, at more than four million.

The new wave of immigration spurred David Wasielewski, born in Taiwan, to open an internationally-known dumpling house in Bellevue 4 1/2 years ago, only the second U.S. location for the popular restaurant chain.

He believed the timing was right because of the well-educated, international workforce at Seattle-based companies like Microsoft and Starbucks.

“We see a lot of the Chinese coming into our restaurant with their family and friends and often times, they bring their non-Chinese friends and introduce them to our brand and our concept,” Din Tai Fung USA Managing Partner David Wasielewski said.

Din Tai Fung opened a second Seattle location in 2014, and plans to expand.

Lee believes more Asian-Americans need to join him at a different table, the one where decisions are made.

“They have to be at the table and influence the policy that’s being made. And there’s nothing to substitute for the direct involvement,” Lee said.

Lee is the only Asian-American and minority member elected to Bellevue’s city council.


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