Chinese Business in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Historical Overview

This article provides a historical background of Chinese presence in Latin America and the Caribbean from the arrival of the first Chinese workers in the 1850s until the Great Depression. The objective is to demonstrate that Chinese businesses and investment in the region is far for being a recent phenomenon. Methodologically, this article explores an extensive bibliographic corpus and analyzes the International Chinese Business Directory of the World of 1913, one of the most important sources on Chinese businesses in the region. By focusing on the early migration patterns, the establishment of Chinese businesses and transnational economic networks, this article reveals how Chinese businesses were part of the urban landscapes of several Latin American and Caribbean cities, establishing historical commercial ties which continue, if in different forms, to this day.