Chinatown in America... Not what you expect!

 "Chinatown" a term that used to suggest narrow streets, crowded little shops of strange food and cheap goods, no longer applies to Houston. As China grows in influence around the world, a new kind of China Town is emerging. This is not Chinese who have become American citizens. It is China exporting small pocket cities, within American cities, to exert influence on America.

Chinatown in AmericaIn Houston, it is estimated that the Chinese number 500,000 people. They are among some of the most successful and affluent people in Houston. In Houston's "China Town" everything is affluent, modern and new. If you go to Charles Schwab, and ask to do business, they will tell you: "You have to go to another place. We only do business with Chinese here. Everything is in Chinese."

In fact, of the 10 banks in China Town, in Houston, all of them cater strictly to Chinese people and most of them are Chinese owned. Even the public street signs of this area, are in Chinese script. Some stores don't even bother to put English signs up. As one man said: "Why should we. We only sell to Chinese people."

This section makes no effort to integrate with the greater Houston economy. They are self sustaining, and prosper, just doing business with Chinese people. The architecture, language, music, products and services, are Chinese, for Chinese. This is a new phenomenon that Americans and the rest of the world will have to get used to. As China continues to grow in economic influence, and nears the point where it will surpass the USA in economic power, more and more Chinese, will exert and demonstrate their economic power, and independence. They have no desire or intention of becoming "Americans". They are Chinese at the core.

The Chinese population is the largest segment of people from Asia living in the USA. In 2000 the U.S. Census said 2,422,970 Chinese people lived in the USA. Most of them are young and aggressive, in the age group from 30 to 45 years old. 42% of them have come to the USA since 1990. 80% of them are educated. Their income is higher than the national average ($44,000 to $50,000 per year) vs. the average Cambodian who makes about $28,000 in America. 45% of them are in management, far higher than the average for any other group in America.

We have pondered the question, "How will Americans learn to react to the Chinese, when it becomes apparent that China has more power and influence than the USA?" We also ponder, "Will the USA have economic conflict with China. Will it lead to military conflict?" And we ponder, "What if China pursues a foreign policy different from the USA, and what if they 'cross swords' in some far off international field of strategic importance."

But the most important thing we ponder is the social, legal, and political questions. America has long been considered a melting pot. But what do we do, and how do we react to a group that has no interest in "blending in" with American values, language, or customs. How to we as Americans react to a people who may prefer to export their Chinese customs and laws, to sections of America...and make little effort to comply with the laws of prejudice, or discrimination. Such as the brokerage house we went into.


UNITED NATIONS (CP World Canadian Press)- Leaders of the fight for women's equality say there is no going back on the revolution that began 30 years ago, though the challenges ahead are immense. The comments came at a UN meeting to evaluate the world's progress toward gender equality.

Now in its second and final week, the gathering has drawn delegates from 130 countries and 6,000 representatives from women's and human rights organizations. Commemorating Tuesday's International Women's Day, Rachel Mayanja, the secretary general's top adviser on women, warned that "the task ahead is not going to be any less difficult than it has been during the past decades."

She stressed that world leaders cannot view poverty, armed conflict and violence in isolation. "The eradication of poverty and disease is as important as dealing with the criminal networks that traffic in women and children," she said. Nafis Sadik, a special adviser on AIDS (news - web sites) to Secretary General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) and former head of the UN Population Fund, said governments spend more than $900 billion US on the military while the world's richest countries spend less than $70 billion on development assistance and only about $3 billion of that amount goes to gender equality programs.

"What contributes more to security, $3 billion invested in women or the $900 billion squandered on weapons?" Sadik said to loud applause. "It is time for political leaders to stop talking about peace and really start investing in it." From Canada, the Prime Minister said: "But despite these advances, the journey has not ended. We are not yet there. Equality, like all rights, must be made real and immediate in the everyday lives of people," Prime Minister Martin, of Canada said.

At a commemoration held Friday at the UN before most of the ministers and VIPs left, two Nobel Peace Prize winners and the heads of the four UN conferences on women since 1975 spoke of progress and challenges ahead. The four conferences built the global women's movement.

Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, last year's Nobel laureate, said women must celebrate their achievements, including her prize, but must fight poverty by championing debt relief and open markets, and tackle climate change and deforestation. "It is us who will eventually have to convince our governments that women need to be given equal space, to be given an opportunity to exploit their potential, and that it is not a gift for women to participate in decision-making - it is a right," Maathai said."

Rigoberta Menchu, the Indian rights activist from Guatemala who won the peace prize in 1992, said women should be "a beacon of hope" to change systems promoting racism, discrimination, exclusion and the lack of economic opportunity. "We women have to give the example of being inclusive, of fighting exclusion, of fighting racism," she said. "That is why I'm here." Helvi Sipila, secretary general of the first UN women's conference in Mexico City in 1975, said in a video message from her home in Finland that women have made "considerable strides toward gender equality" but not enough has been done to advance peace.

"Today ... we must ask ourselves more seriously and with greater determination than ever what we can do in order to end violence, to enhance national and international understanding, and to secure world peace," said Sipila, 89. Gertrude Mongella, secretary general of the 1995 Beijing conference and now president of the Pan- African Parliament, recalled that in her final speech in Beijing she said: "A revolution has begun and there's no going back."

Ten years later, she said, women are more visible, gender equality "has become a working concept worldwide," and "women and men are now mobilized to see women's issues as societal issues, whether they like it or not." "We are here to set a new speed," Mongella said. "We are here to remove the remaining obstacles. ... We are on the right track of our revolution. There is no going back." Former UN assistant secretary general Angela King, who was Annan's top adviser on women and organized the 2000 UN conference that reviewed Beijing, said the challenges of five years ago are the challenges of today. She said an increasing number of women live in poverty, lag behind in economic advancement, are hurt by globalization, are contracting HIV (news - web sites)/AIDS in greater numbers and are increasingly subject to violence in armed conflicts and through trafficking, she said. King noted there are only four women prime ministers of independent countries and few women are at peace tables, citing them as the difficulty in changing stereotypes of women's limited roles. "In 1975, the Mexico conference ignited a spark of awareness among women of their shared hopes and common problems," King said. "With each successive conference, the spark grew.

"Let us pledge today as the United Nations (news - web sites) community, as governments, regions and individuals, that the flame for women's freedom and equality become a shining beacon for action to fully realize gender equality, development and peace." The comments came at a UN meeting to evaluate the world's progress toward gender equality. Now in its second and final week, the gathering has drawn delegates from 130 countries and 6,000 representatives from women's and human rights organizations.