Chinese Brazilians

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Chinese Brazilians
Total population
c. 250,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
São Paulo City, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro
Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin and Macanese Patois
Related ethnic groups
Asian Brazilians, Asian Americans, Macanese people

Chinese Brazilians (Portuguese: Sino-brasileiro or Chinês-brasileiro; Chinese: 巴西华人 or 巴西华裔) are people of Chinese ancestry who were born in or have immigrated to Brazil. The Chinese Brazilian population was estimated to be approximately 250,000.[1]

Brazil imported slaves from Lisbon's population of Chinese slaves in Portugal.[2] Fillippo Sassetti saw some Chinese and Japanese slaves in Lisbon among the large slave community in 1578, although most of the slaves were blacks.[3] Military, religious, and civil service secretarial work and other lenient and light jobs were given to Chinese slaves, while hard physical labor fell to the Africans. Portugal exported some Chinese slaves to Brazil.[4]

It is known that there were Chinese in Brazil as far back as the late 18th century. Rugendas painted a depiction of Chinese Tea planters in Rio de Janeiro during the period of the Portuguese Royal family in Brazil. In 1814 John VI of Portugal brought 300 Chinese from Macau to work in the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro.

São Paulo has the largest Chinese Brazilian population, in particular on the district of Liberdade. Besides being an area famous for its strong Japanese presence, a significant number of Taiwanese immigrants have settled in Liberdade, and many Chinese immigrants have come to Liberdade following the Communist revolution in 1949. Many Cantonese from Hong Kong and Portuguese-speaking Macau, including some Macanese of mixed Chinese and Portuguese descent, have also settled in Brazil. These Macau immigrants can usually speak and understand Portuguese (its Creole, Macanese or Patuá, is also spoken), allowing them to adjust more easily to life in Brazil. Today, the majority of Chinese Brazilians only speak Portuguese, although some may be bilingual, speaking Portuguese and Chinese.

Notable people


  1. ^ a b "'Estou orgulhoso com a minha raíz da China' --Leone Da Silveira Lee, primeiro e único general brasileiro com descendência chinesa" ['I am proud of my Chinese roots' --Leone Da Silveira Lee, the first and only Brazilian general of Chinese descent]. China Radio International online (in Portuguese). 22 May 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  2. ^ Teixeira Leite 1999, p. 20: "Já por aí se vê que devem ter sido numerosos os escravos chineses que tomaram o caminho de Lisboa — e por extensão o do Brasil ... Em 1744 era o imperador Qianlong quem ordenava que nenhum Chinês ou europeu de Macau vendesse filhos e filhas, prohibição reiterada em 1750 pelo vice-rei de Cantão." [Trans] "On the other hand, it is clear that there must have been a large number of Chinese slaves who took the road to Lisbon - and by extension that of Brazil ... In 1744 it was the Emperor Qianlong who ordered that no Chinese or Macao citizens sold sons and daughters, and the prohibition reiterated in 1750 by the Viceroy of Canton."
  3. ^ Spence, Jonathan D. (1985). The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci. Penguin Books. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-14-008098-8. Retrieved 8 January 2017. Slaves were everywhere in Lisbon, according to the Florentine merchant Filippo Sassetti, who was also living in the city during 1578. Black slaves were the most numerous, but there were also a scattering of Chinese and Japanese among them. 
  4. ^ Teixeira Leite 1999, p. 19: "Idéias e costumes da China podem ter-nos chegado também através de escravos chineses, de uns poucos dos quais sabe-se da presença no Brasil de começos do Setecentos. Mas não deve ter sido através desses raros infelizes que a influência chinesa nos atingiu, mesmo porque escravos chineses (e também japoneses) já existiam aos montes em Lisboa por volta de 1578, quando Filippo Sassetti visitou a cidade, apenas suplantados em número pelos africanos. Parece aliás que aos últimos cabia o trabalho pesado, ficando reservadas aos chins tarefas e funções mais amenas, inclusive a de em certos casos secretariar autoridades civis, religiosas e militares." [Trans] "Ideas and customs from China may also have come to us through Chinese slaves, a few of which are known to have been present in Brazil at the beginning of the seventeen hundreds. But it must not have been through these rare unfortunates that Chinese influence reached us, even as Chinese (and also Japanese) slaves already existed in the hills in Lisbon around 1578, when Filippo Sassetti visited the city, only outnumbered by the Africans. Moreover, it seems that the latter did the heavy work, with the Chinese duties and functions being more reserved including, in some cases, that of civil, religious and military authority."


  • Teixeira Leite, José Roberto (1999). A China no Brasil: influências, marcas, ecos e sobrevivências chinesas na sociedade e na arte brasileiras [China in Brazil: Chinese influences, marks, echoes and survivals in Brazilian society and art] (in Portuguese). UNICAMP. Universidade Estadual de Campinas. ISBN 978-85-268-0436-4. 

External links

  • A Presença Chinesa no Brasil - Pesquisa Bibliográfica. Fundação João Nabuco/João Nabuco Foundation of Brazil together with the International Institute of Macau present: "The Chinese Presence in Brazil - A Bibliographic Research".
  • Padrões de Linguagem nos Imigrantes Chineses - Diglossia. This is a scholarly article written in Portuguese, the title meaning "Diglossie - Patterns of Language of Chinese Immigrants [in Brazil].
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