When you talk about Chinese communities in the United States, the first thing that comes to mind are established Chinatowns in major cities, enclaves that immigrants from mainland China tend to congregate in; San Francisco, New York City, Vancouver, Seattle, Chicago and even Boston. All of these cities have established institutions that cater specifically to Chinese residents (churches, schools, newspapers), and were among the first cities that the Chinese chose to settle down in over 200 years ago.
So in due deference to the blog, we return to the point... All of these cities would be hospitable places for a mainland Chinese athlete (or any mainland Asian athlete for that matter...) to come over and make their stateside debut on a team.
Chien-Ming Wang came over from Tainan, Taiwan (don't even start with the China/Taiwan stuff.....) to the New York Yankees, a city with almost 400,000 Chinese residents (big .pdf file).
Ichiro Suzuki came over from Japan to Seattle, Washington, a city with 74,000 Asian residents.
Even Yao Ming, from Shanghai, China came over to Houston, Texas with a formidable 100,000 Asian residents and 24,000 Chinese residents.
So what happens when highly touted Chinese basketball player Yi Jianlian (second only to Yao Ming in national heroism) makes the notoriously difficult east-to-west transition and gets drafted by a team in a city with a minimal, if not non-existent Chinese population? Well for a few, everyone from the Chinese Basketball Association reluctant to release one of their home-grown star athletes to a city without a substantial Chinese-American presence, to his agent Dan Fegan who was concerned that Yi wouldn't get a contract worth his skill in a low-cap sports market like Milwaukee.
So after this bleak painting of Milwaukee, it looks as if things aren't so bad for the Chinese community in Milwaukee after all....
On the campus of the nationally known Marquette University sits the Modern Chinese School in the university's language building, teaching 250+ diligent 7-10 year olds Chinese nursery rhymes and vocabulary every Sunday morning.
The launch party for The Milwaukee Chinese Times, the area's first Chinese-language newspaper which published its inaugural issue on Dec 29th, was held mid-afternoon before the highly anticipated 200 million+ viewership event of the Chinese Superbowl, Bucks vs Rockets, Yao vs Yi. The game also coinciding just one week before 1.7 billion Chinese people around in the world ushered in the Year of the Rat for Chinese New Year.
Milwaukee's getting there...