No Enclave — Hongkonger Los Angeles

No Enclave


Hong Kong has long been one of those globally prominent places up there with London, Paris, Rome, and Tokyo — and yet surprisingly little has been written about the Hongkonger diaspora. There’s next-to-nothing specifically about Hong Kong emigration to Los Angeles — despite the fact that nearly as many Hongkongers live in the US as in China and that more than twice as many live in California as any other state.

It seems that Hongkongers, despite their century-and-a-half long history as British subjects, distinct history, separate political systems, and unique culture are in the American mindset still somehow insufficiently distinct to warrant being distinguished from other ethnically Chinese immigrants from places like China, Singapore, Taiwan, &c. Although I’ve not yet had the pleasure of visiting Hong Kong, the more I read about it the more it seems to me that Hongkongers deserve at least an attempt at a more nuanced approach.

Flag of Hong Kong

I suspect that part of the reason people don’t write as much about Americans with origins in Hong Kong is that most of us aren’t sure how to refer to them. In English, the people of Hong Kong are known by several names including Hongkongers, Hong Kongese, Hongkongans, and Hong Kong Chinese. In Hong Kong, the demonym is 香港人 (literally “Hong Kong people”). No disrespect intended but those all sound rather clunky to my ears. Even clunkier are derivatives like Hongkonger Americans, Hong Kong People Americans, or Hongkongan Angelenos. Rather amazingly, “Hongkonger,” only added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2014.

Hongkongers are mostly Han Chinese and Hong Kong has ancient ties to China — having been ruled by the Qin Dynasty at least as early as 221 BCE. On the other hand, Hong Kong was also (unlike most of China) part of the Vietnamese Nanyue Kingdom for a time. Much more recently — and probably much more profoundly impactful — Hong Kong was a British Dependent Territory from 1841 until 1997 (with a break from 1941 until 1946 when it was ruled by the Empire of Japan) and I just can’t imagine that 150 years of colonial rule don’t leave their mark on any people. Hong Kong, after all, may’ve been ruled by China for the last 23 years — but even today it (along with Macau) enjoys a status as a Special Administrative Region. Plus, roughly 9.4% of Hongkongers are not Han Chinese, with some of the larger ethnic minorities including Americans, Australians, British, Canadians, Filipinos, French, Indians, Indonesians, Japanese, Koreans, Nepalese, Pakistanis, Russians, Thai, and Vietnamese.

Chinese immigration to the US begins all the way back in 1820 — when Hong Kong was part of the Qing Dynasty — the last imperial Chinese dynasty. The first significant numbers to arrive in California arrived during the Gold Rush of 1849. Nearly all early Chinese immigrants were from the province of Guangdong — historically usually romanized as “Canton” or “Kwangtung.” The island of Hong Kong was then part of Guangdong but nearly all of these early immigrants were from the Guangdong districts of Enping, Kaiping, Taishan, or Xinhui rather than Hong Kong, which by then was a British colonial subject.

Hong Kong seems to have taken off as a popular tourist destination after mainland China was effectively sealed off — an era that corresponds with the “Golden Age of Flying.” It was “the last foothold of freedom on the vast mainland of China… the city of anxious millions surrounded by the bamboo curtain and surviving on borrowed time” as one writer put it. Hong Kong was the “Riviera of the Orient” or the “Pearl of the Orient” but you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was the West Berlin of East Asia.

Hongkonger emigrés were historically more likely, it seems, to go settle in the UK than they were to relocate to the goldfields of California. Today there are roughly 145,000 British citizens of Hong Kong origin. There are actually more than twice as many Hongkongers in the US — an estimated 330,000 — somewhat fewer than live in China and far fewer than the 616,000 who live in the country with the largest population of Hongkongers outside of Hong Kong — Canada.

In the late 1970s, large numbers of Taiwanese had begun settling in Los Angeles suburbs like Monterey Park — which acquired the colloquial nickname, “Little Taipei.” An ordinance requiring all signage to include English translation may’ve impelled some Taiwanese business owners to settle in less hostile corners of the San Gabriel Valley but in their wake it was Hongkongers, mainland Chinese, and ethnic Chinese from Vietnam, Indonesia, and elsewhere who largely filled the void, settling not just in Monterey Park but Alhambra, Arcadia, El Monte, Rosemead, San Gabriel, and San Marino. Some Taiwanese, meanwhile, established a presence at the other end of the valley, in places like Diamond Bar, Walnut, Hacienda Heights, and Rowland Heights.

Hong Kong Noodle Company

I can’t say that every place with “Hong Kong” in the title was founded by a Hongkonger but I suspect that surely some — maybe even a majority — were. For example, I don’t know whether or not David Jung was a Hongkonger but he did speak Cantonese and in 1910 he established the Hong Kong Noodle Company at 950 South San Pedro Street. Still in operation today, it is one of several places that claims to have invented the fortune cookie. Knowing this, I always pay more attention to the manufacturing location of my fortune cookies rather than their fortunes but I’ve yet to come across on produced at Los Angeles’s Hong Kong Noodle Company. According to Hong Kong Noodle Company lore, that innovation occurred in 1918.


Food is, of course, a massively important aspect of every culture but Hong Kong Cuisine seems somehow to be the most important aspect. Hong Kong is primarily a service economy and much of that service involves serving food. In Hong Kong, it’s normal to consume five meals per day — although it should be noted that the size of a typical Hongkonger meal is much smaller than the supersized, hypercaloric gut-busters Americans routinely gorge themselves on.

Hong Kong cuisine is a part of the Cantonese tradition, albeit bearing a pronounced influence of British cuisine. It also bears the influence of non-Cantonese Chinese traditions (especially) Fujian, Hakka, Shanghainese, and Teochew); Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean, and various Southeast Asian cooking traditions, owing to migration from elsewhere in China, the island’s geographic location, and its importance as a port of international commerce.

In Hong Kong cuisine, typical items include dumplings, roast goose, congee with pork and century egg, chicken feet, egg tarts, sticky rice, clay pot rice, steamed fish or shrimp, &c. Eating dim sum (點心) at yum cha (飲茶) is a popular activity — although Americans widely refer to the meal and experience themselves as dim sum, as in “going to dim sum.” I often find Western-influenced dishes to be at least as interesting as indigenous ones and Hong Kong’s western-style dishes are no exception, including as they do dishes like macaroni in broth with fried egg and sausage, Hong Kong Style Borscht, Swiss sauce chicken wings, and “Western Toast” (西多士).

In Hong Kong, food is sold from a variety of food outlets including street carts, tiny food stalls, specialty shops, bakeries, fast food chains, Hong Kong-style cafés (茶餐廳 or “cha chaan teng”), and proper restaurants. In Los Angeles, however, Hongkonger restaurants are usually restaurants although there are a few cha chaan teng as well.

Considering how many Hongkongers live in Los Angeles, then, it may come as somewhat of a surprise that there aren’t more Hong Kong-style restaurants and cafés but part of that is probably owed to the fact that most Hongkonger immigrants are relatively wealthy and are more likely to work in professional fields than they are to open restaurants. That doesn’t, however, mean that there aren’t some great local Hongkonger restaurants. One of my favorite restaurants, period, is JJ Hong Kong Café in Monterey Park. Another cha chaan teng is Delicious Food Corner 原味店which is one of Los Angeles’s only Hongkonger restaurant chains — having expanded since its founding in 2008 (also in Montery Park) to its expansion into four locations. Perhaps the oldest of Los Angeles’s Hongkonger chains is Sam Woo, the first location of which was founded in Chinatown in 1979 and has since expanded to Canada.

Other Hong Kong-style restaurants and cafés (or restaurants which include Hong Kong-style dishes on their menus) include Alice’s Kitchen, Baccali Cafe & Rotisserie, Bao Dim Sum House, The Bay Café, E A T Bistro, E&J Yummy Kitchen, East Garden Restaurant, Henry’s Cuisine, Ho Kee Cafe, Hong Kong, Hong Kong BBQ Restaurant, Hong Kong Bowl & LA Fried Chicken, Hong Kong Café, Hong Kong Collection, Hong Kong Express, Hong Kong Restaurant, Pearl River Deli, Premier Dessert Art 尚品甜艺, U2 Cafe & BBQ, Wei’s Cuisine Kitchen, and Yardbird.

Hong Kong was occupied by the Empire of Japan from December 1941 until August 1945. At the same time, unrest from the Chinese Civil War compelled many mainland Chinese to resettle there as refugees — especially after 1949, when the Communists conquered all of mainland China. However, the decade that followed was stable and prosperous, as the economy rapidly industrialized. The media branded Hong Kong (along with Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan) the “Asian Tigers (or Dragons) on account of their ferocious economic growth.

In 1967, a labor dispute grew into large scale clashes between the pro-British and pro-Beijing forces. Striking workers were in some cases beaten to death by the colonial police force and, at the same time, several pro-Beijing journalists were murdered. One result of the 1967 Hong Kong riots was that left-wing schools were closed and leftist publications were silenced. Another was a wave of emigration out of the colony known as the Hong Kong Mass Migration Wave.

In contrast with earlier Chinese immigrants (nearly half of whom returned to China before the passage of a number of racist, anti-Chinese ordinances halted Chinese immigration) immigrants from Hong Kong, like those from Taiwan before them, tended to be middle and upper-middle-class professionals and business people. Another contrast drawn with “boat people” — the poor, mostly Vietnamese Southeast Asian refugees who fled their countries in small, cramped boats. Taiwanese and Hongkonger immigrants, on the other hand, were therefore sometimes described as “yacht people.” By the end of the 1970s, there were roughly 80,000 Hong Kong-born residents of the US.

Hong Kong Café flyer

Many Hongkongers settled in the San Gabriel Valley suburbs whilst others opened businesses in the established Chinatowns of Manhattan, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. One such business was the Hong Kong Café, which opened at 425 Gin Ling Way in 1979. It rivaled another Chinatown music venue, Madame Wong’s, run by Shanghainese American Esther Wong. Both venues were famous for hosting emerging new wave and punk acts and Hong Kong Café featured performances from the Weirdos, the Go-Go’s, the Germs, X, Bags, the Alley Cats, Catholic Discipline, the Mau-Mau’s, Nervous Gender, Middle Class, the Smart Pills, Dred Scott, Black Flag, and others. It was also featured in Penelope Spheeris’s documentary, The Decline of Western Civilization, which was released shortly before Hong Kong Café closed, in 1981. Christy Shigekawa is currently working on a documentary about the Hong Kong Café and would like you to contact her if you have memories of it.

In 1984, the British and Chinese ratified the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which declared that Hong Kong would become part of the People’s Republic of China in 1997 but that Hong Kong would retain a status as “Special Administrative Region” for 50 years after. This was enough to convince many Hongkongers to leave. That stream of migration increased after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 in China, offering to Hong Kongers a dramatic and ruthless example of how the Communist Chinese intended to deal with pro-democracy efforts. Many continued to settle in Los Angeles and Vancouver as well as the Silicon Valley of the San Francisco Bay Area. Immigration from Hong Kong to the US grew to an estimated 219,231 as of 2012. Of those, about 44% lived in California.

Unlike most other Chinese, language fluency is less of an impediment to assimilation for Hongkongers, with more than 90% of immigrants from Hong Kong already fluent in English. 70% of Hongkonger immigrants, too, are classified as skilled workers — a fact which in part accounts for why fewer Hongkongers choose to live in the US than in other countries — specifically Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Taiwan. In fact, only 2.9% of recently polled Hongkongers describe the US as a desirable place to live. In other words, while the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the H5N1 avian flu outbreak, the 2003 SARS epidemic, anti-democratic crackdowns, and large scale protests all compel Hongkongers to move elsewhere, the US is near the bottom of the list thanks to a worsening epidemic of gun violence, a pathetic healthcare system, pitiable mass transit, and a president who repeatedly makes a point of stoking racist and nativist hostility against immigrants.


Hong Kong was deemed a suitably exotic setting for Hollywood films at least as early as 1941’s They Met in Bombay. It was really only after the Chinese takeover of the mainland, however, that Hong Kong became a frequent setting for Hollywood films, including Hong Kong (1952) starred former California governor, Ronald Reagan. Other Hollywood films that featured Hong Kong include Macao (1952), Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), Flight to Hong Kong (1956), Hong Kong Affair (1958), Hong Kong Confidential (1958), The World of Suzie Wong (1960), Road to Hong Kong (1962), Lord Jim (1965), and Gambit (1966).


Hong Kong and Hollywood’s television connections are fewer but worth noting. In 1960 and ’61, ABC aired the 26-episode series, Hong Kong. That the series, filmed in Hollywood and Hong Kong, co-starred two white men will surprise no one remotely familiar with Hollywood history. It did, however, feature many Chinese American actors. Some even had recurring appearances, including actors Gerald Jann, Mai Ting Sing, Lawrence Ung, Allen Jung, Clarence Lung, Peter Chong, Beulah Quo, Aki Aleong, Harold Fong, James Hong, Jane Chang, Kam Tong, Leonard Strong, Richard Loo, Tommy Lee, and Victor Sen Yung.

After that one has to jump ahead to the 1970s for more Hong Kong-influenced television, when Hanna-Barbera produced the animated Hong Kong Phooey about a dog named Penrod “Penry” Pooch who works as a janitor at a police station. Secretly, however, Pooch is a crime-fighting kung fu master. Pooch was voiced by Scatman Crothers. Hong Kong Phooey’s uniform, a red karategi appears to be Japanese. In fact, aside from the title, there’s no not much suggestion at all of connection to Hong Kong beyond Hong Kong Phooey’s copy of The Hong Kong Kung Fu Book of Tricks, which was most likely produced in Hong Kong.

In 1998, comedic Hong Kong action star and director Sammo Hung began starring in Martial Law as a police officer from Shanghai who joins the LAPD with co-stars Kelly Hu and Arsenio Hall. It was executive produced and occasionally directed by Stanley Tong, another veteran Hong Kong film director who came to Hollywood where he was hired to direct the live-action adaptation of Mr. Magoo. Unlike most Hongkongers, Hung didn’t speak English and apparently learned what few lines he delivered phonetically. The result, not surprisingly, was rather stiff although when his martial arts skills were on display it was occasionally enjoyable.


By the mid-1960s, audiences were less interested in Hollywood depictions of Hong Kong than they were of Hong Kong-made films. Chinese-language films, mostly from Hong Kong, began to be commonly screened in Chinatown and elsewhere Downtown. The first local cinema to screen Hong Kong films likely, was the King Hing Theater (designed by Gilbert L. Leong), which began doing so in 1962 and also showcased Cantonese opera performances. The Cinemaland Theater was reborn as the Hong Kong film showcase, the Royal Pagoda Theatre. The Alpine Theater, an old vaudeville theater, became the similar Kim Sing Theater. Sometime after 1965, the Japanese film-screening New Linda Lea Theatre was purchased by Chinese businessman who’d opened the original Linda Lea and he began screening Kung Fu movies. In the 1970s, the Brooklyn, Cameo, Carson Twin, Palace, Roxie, Wiltern, and others began showing kung fu films alongside grindhouse fair like horror and sexploitation films. Most of the Chinese-language cinemas and grindhouses closed down in the 1980s, when those sorts of movies migrated to cable television and home video. King Hing’s owner, Sik Wah Lew, donated many of his Golden Age Hong Kong films to the UCLA Film and TV Archive.

Hong Kong’s cinema, although long popular around the world, developed relatively late. Before the Japanese occupation, Hongkongers were mostly treated to films made in Shanghai. After the communists came to power in 1949, film-making was severely restricted and Hong Kong filled the void by producing not just Cantonese but Mandarin, Hokkein, and Teochew-language films. At its peak, Hong Kong’s motion picture industry was the third-largest in the world, thanks mainly to its crowd-pleasing comedies and kung fu films.


In 1979, comedic kung fu star Jackie Chan came to Los Angeles before heading to Texas to film The Big Brawl, (殺手壕), a Hong Kong-Hollywood co-production designed to be Chan’s American breakthrough. In Los Angeles, he befriended Taiwanese superstar Teresa Teng, then living here with her brother. Although it underperformed, it led to a small role for Chan in Cannonball Run. Chan married another Taiwanese entertainer, Joan Lin, in Los Angeles in 1982. The day after their marriage, Lin gave birth to Jaycee Chan, who later went on to pursue a career in acting and singing.

In 1985, Chan returned to the US (New York City this time) to film The Protector (威龍猛探) but he wouldn’t find mainstream success until 1995’s Rumble in the Bronx (filmed in Vancouver). Chan, of course, went on to act in numerous Hollywood films, most notably Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2, both filmed mostly in Los Angeles and Hong Kong — (skip Rush Hour 3). Los Angeles Chinatown restaurant Foo Chow still bears the message on its exterior “A best seller movie by Jackie Chan Rush Hour was shot here.”


Green Hornet

Perhaps the only kung fu film star bigger than Jackie Chan was Bruce Lee, who was also briefly an Angeleno. Lee was born in San Francisco in 1940. His first film role was in 1941’s Golden Gate Girl, directed by Esther Eng, an American filmmaker who made Cantonese language films for Joseph Sunn Jue and Moon Kwan‘s San Francisco-based Grandview Film Company, which made the first Cantonese film shot color White Powder and Neon Lights (dir. Wong Hock Sing, 1941). Lee grew up in Kowloon, however, and returned to the US for school in the 1950s. He moved to Los Angeles in 1966 to appear in the television series, The Green Hornet. He also established a martial arts studio, the third location of his Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, in 1967. Bruce Lee died on 20 July 1973 in Hong Kong at the age of 32. On the 40th anniversary of his death, a two-meter bronze statue of the star was installed in Chinatown’s Central Plaza.

Picture of Bruce Lee statue in Los Angeles Chinatown (Image: Bill Cook)

Hong Kong Cinema continued to flourish in the 1980s and ’90s and any film lover with taste will recognize the brilliance of the best work by the likes of Johnnie To, Maggie Cheung, Stephen Chow, and Wong Kar-wai. There was a period when a few giant directors of Hong Kong worked in Hollywood — although in no instances did they produce their best work under America’s creatively stifling studio system.

First was John Woo — director of masterpieces like A Better Tomorrow (英雄本色), The Killer (喋血雙雄), Bullet in the Head (喋血街頭), and Hard Boiled (辣手神探). For all of his triumphs, his first Hollywood job would be to make a film about a mullet-sporting Jean Claude van Damme. It would be followed by a film co-starring John Travolta and Christian Slater. Face/Off, however, was utterly brilliant — despite what you may’ve heard or even thought. Mission: Impossible 2 (like most of that series) was serviceable if largely forgettable. Like most people, I didn’t see Windtalkers, and like even more, I don’t even recall Paycheck, after which Woo moved to China. I haven’t seen any of his films since MI:2 but my sister loves the epic Red Cliff.

Even though Woo’s Hollywood films were a mixed bag, they opened the door for other Hong Kong filmmakers — who were tasked with greater challenges. Ringo Lam was paired with Jean-Claude Van Damme for Maximum Risk. For Tsui Hark, van Damme was not enough and the Hong Kong veteran was additionally saddled with basketball player Dennis Rodman (possibly the better actor) in Double Team. I remember getting stoned and watching it — but I think even in that state I was too bored to finish it. The best Hong Kong-Hollywood crossover might’ve been The Replacement Killers, which paired Chow Yun-fat with Mira Sorvino and was directed by American director Antoine Fuqua. Despite being a fan of all involved, I never got around to watching it.

Los Angeles has been home to a number of Hongkonger film figures, actually — too many, in fact, to explore in-depth here, including Alan Chang, April HongBD WongBrandon Lee, Byron Mann, Ceci Haha, Elizabeth Sung, Eugenia Yuan, Evan C. KimGeorge Kee CheungGinny Tiu, James Hong, Jim Lau, Kelvin Shum, Kevin Cheng Ka-wing, Kevin LeungNancy “Ka Shen” Kwan, Ran Zhang, Samson Fu, Shijun Chen, Tzi Ma, and Winnie Wong.


The music of Hong Kong is a mixture of traditional and popular genres. Cantonese opera (粵劇) is one of the major categories in Chinese opera, having originated in Guangdong sometime before the late 13th century. Under the British, western Classical music was popular from the 1890s until the rock era.  A Cantonese version, Jyut Jyu Si Doi Kuk (粵語時代曲, literally “songs of the era”), produced some decent tunes in the 1950s and ’60s.

Frankly, though, as someone who loves tons of pop produced anywhere between the 1930s until the 1980s, I’m at a bit of a loss as to why I don’t enjoy more of Hong Kong’s music of that fifty-year period. I like a lot of music from the first few decades of Jenny Tseng‘s career. The term “Cantorock” was coined in 1974, the same years Cantonese became an official language in Hong Kong, finally giving it equal legal status with English. I’m not sure how big Cantorock was but the 1980s were dominated by Cantopop, much of which was as slick, soulless, and boring as commercial pop music of anywhere else (although I appreciate some of Faye Wong‘s stuff). Scrappier pop bands have always been of more interest to me and Hong Kong has produced a few of those that I know of including at17, the Marshmallow Kisses, my little airport, and the Pancakes.


Los Angeles is home, or has been home, to several musicians with roots in Hong Kong. One of the first of note was Lui Tsun-Yuen (呂振原), a composer, performer, and teacher of Chinese classical music who played a large part in introducing Western audiences. Lui was born in 1931 in Shanghai but moved to Hong Kong in 1954. In 1957 he moved to Brazil and afterward moved to the US. He recorded for the label Lyrichord and as part of a Las Vegas revue called Oriental Holiday. In 1961, Lui began teaching Chinese music, classical dance, and opera for UCLA’s Department of Ethnomusicology and Systematic Musicology. In 1968, he was chosen by the Doors to open for them at the Forum in Inglewood. He died in January 2008.


Christopher Wong Won — aka “Fresh Kid Ice” and “The Chinaman” — was a Chinese Trinidadian-American rapper and pioneer of bass music. Both of his grandmothers were black but he was also of Hongkonger heritage. In 1984, whilst stationed at March Air Reserve Base in the Inland Empire, he formed the group, 2 Live Crew. While 2 Live Crew may be notorious for their exploitive lyrics and videos, they started out relatively “positive” with electrofunk songs like “The Revelation” and “2 Live Beat Box.” Then they moved to Miami and teamed up with Luke Skyywalker and the rest is booty bass history.

Other Hong Konger Angeleno musicians include Ho Ling Tang, Jenny Wong, Jett Kwong, Justin Yau, Kwan Leung Ling, and Milck (née Connie K. Lim). Part-time musicians of Hongkonger background include The Fung Brothers and American Idol contestant/LASD crime analyst William Hung.


Charles Woo immigrated to Los Angeles in 1968 where he enrolled at UCLA to study physics. While doing graduate research, he began working in wholesale toys. In 1979, he founded ABC Toys in Downtown Los Angeles, on the edge of Skid Row. Woo began to expand operations, buying and renovating other nearby warehouses. Soon, other members of the Woo family followed. Shu Woo took over operations of ABC and Charles established Mega Toys Inc. People began referring to Charles Woo as the “Mayor of Toy Town.” Soon, toy sellers from China, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam followed suit and it developed into the nation’s largest such district. Ultimately, however, the city formalized the neighborhood’s designation as “The Toy District.”


Vance Worley

Hong Kong’s sports culture is sometimes said to be heavily influenced by its long occupation under the British — although western sports like football (which some argue was invented in China), bicycling, badminton, ping pong, pool, swimming, volleyball, and basketball (a Canadian invention, of course) are widely popular throughout China. At the same time, indigenous sports like martial arts and dragon boat racing remain popular.

There are several well-known athletes of Hong Kong familial origin. American gymnast Amy Chow was born to a father from Shanghai and a mother from Hong Kong. Professional baseball player Vance Worley also has a Hong Kong-born mother. The most famous living Hong Konger American athlete, though is probably Michelle Kwan, widely considered one of the greatest ice skaters of all time.

Michelle Kwan

Kwan was born in Torrance to two immigrants from Hong Kong. Her siblings Ron Kwan and Karen Kwan were skaters before her — Ron an ice hockey player and Karen a figure skater. Michelle won five World Figure Skating Championships. She opened an ice skating rink, East West Ice Palace, in Artesia in 2005. She retired from professional skating in 2006.


Under British rule, Hong Kong’s art scene was initially characterized by British-run organizations and a preference for western art. That began to change after World War II, when art colleges began to train Hongkonger artists who then began to produce works in contemporary styles. In the 1960s, a series of innovative art exhibitions featured many artists who moved away from the naturalistic landscape paintings favored by their forebears to establish a tradition that, despite exhibiting greater abstraction that was then in vogue in the West, was also uniquely reflective of its Hong Kong origins. Artists emblematic of this synthesis include Hon Chi Fun, Lui Shou Kwan, Luis Chan, Wucious Wong, and many others. Los Angeles, too, has been home to artists with roots in Hong Kong including Anlan Huang, Jëff Yoika (Jeffrey Ng), John Wu, Kristi Hoi, Miggie Wong, Po Yan Leung, Sophie Cheung, Stephy So, Vanessa Holyoak, and Yumi Tsang.


Hong Kong’s second-largest newspaper Sing Tao Daily (星島日報) established a facility in Alhambra in 1989, one of its nine overseas bureaus. Established in 1938, it maintained a pro-British Hong Kong and Kuomintang political alignment. However, since the handover of Hong Kong to China, it has shifted its stance to a pro-Beijing Communist one. Censorship, naturally, was increased and journalists who didn’t quit were instructed to avoid covering politically sensitive topics and to reduce investigative journalism in favor of “soft news.”

Pasadena’s 1430 KMRB (“MRB” stands for “Multicultural Radio Broadcasting”) began its 24-hour-per-day Cantonese broadcast in 1999. Most of the programming is talk radio but there are music programs too, including DJ 上山小麥’s 鋒尚音樂 (“Top Music”), DJs 梁少芯 and 文千歲‘s 千連芯戲曲雅集, 何可晴’s 流金歲月 (“Golden Years”) (a program focused on Jyut Jyu Si Doi Kuk and Cantopop from the 1960s-1990s), 蘇娜’s 音樂人生 (“Music and Life”), and my favorite, the Cantonese Opera that airs Monday 20:00-22:00, Friday 6:00-7:00, and Saturday 8:00-9:00.

More recently, URadio XEWW (690 AM) has begun broadcasting in Mandarin and Cantonese from a facility within Irwindale. In August 2018, the station was purchased by Hong Kong-based television network Phoenix TV which was enough to trigger Marco Rubio who warned that it would be used to disseminate CCP propaganda.

I’m sure there have been many Angeleno journalists with roots in Hong Kong. There’s Alice Su, the Los Angeles Times‘ Beijing bureau chief, who lived in Hong Kong but I don’t believe is from there. Journalist Melissa Chan was born in Hong Kong and emigrated to Los Angeles when she was three. There’s also Wendy Leung, who wrote for the Daily Bulletin and Ventura County Star .


“Delicious Food Corner is the most Hong Kong place in the San Gabriel Valley” by Jonathan Gold, 2016

“When Hong Kong Immigrants Want A Taste Of Home, They Come To This San Gabriel Cafe”

Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, essayist, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking paid writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in generating advertorials, cranking out clickbait, or laboring away in a listicle mill “for exposure.”
Brightwell has written for Angels Walk LAAmoeblogBoom: A Journal of CaliforniadiaCRITICSHidden Los Angeles, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft ContemporaryForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County Store, the book SidewalkingSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured as subject in The Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistCurbedLAEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRWWhich Way, LA?, at Emerson College, and the University of Southern California.
Brightwell is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on AmebaDuolingoFacebookGoodreadsInstagramMubiand Twitter.
Art Prints

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