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Kolkata’s Early Chinese Community And Their Economic Contributions by Arpita Bose

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

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South Asia Research Vol. 33 (2): 163–176


It is not widely known that Chinese people have been living and working in Kolkata for more than 300 years. Successive earlier waves of Chinese migration to the city can be traced by historical research. While such a work is still in its infancy, later developments in economic and legal fields remain almost completely uncovered, too. This brief article

provides a preliminary overview of Chinese migration and business activities, occupational characteristics and various contributions of this community to the economy of the city and places Chinese migration to Kolkata in a wider context. It offers some insights into how a foreign migrant population arrives in the first place, how it may organise itself and what varied contributions it may make over time to the new place of residence. Always on the fringes, in many ways, the Chinese of Kolkata have displayed typical resilience and business acumen, but have also encountered significant difficulties worth researching in more depth.

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