Posted by: mulrickillion | November 10, 2011

U.S.-Born Chinese, Back in China to Set Up Shop

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Austin Hu at his restaurant, Madison, in Shanghai.

China Real Time Report – WSJ, Nov 10, 2011 —

Ed Hsu is having an identity crisis.

The 37-year-old, American-born Chinese owns two Shanghai branches of Singaporean chain Awfully Chocolate, which he first franchised in 2007. “My parents went to Taiwan during the war but have these romantic memories of China, so they’re confused, which trickled down to me,” he says. “You come to China, and you’re not really Chinese anymore. You go to Taiwan, but they don’t consider you Chinese. Then you go to the States, and you’re a citizen, but you’re not really American.”

Mr. Hsu is one of many foreign-born Chinese now flocking to China — Shanghai in particular — eager to get a piece of the economic pie. But what does it mean when your parents fled this place half a century ago in search of a better life, and you’ve now returned seeking the same thing?

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Kelley Lee, who grew up in California, owns six eateries in Shanghai.

Like Mr. Hsu, Kelley Lee, 34, who owns six eateries in Shanghai — including brewpub Boxing Cat Brewery, taqueria Cantina Agave, cocktail bar Alchemist and cafe iiiit — and Austin Hu, 31, a former Gramercy Tavern chef who now runs his own Shanghai restaurant, Madison, agree that for foreign-born Chinese, the lines that define ethnicity are significantly more blurred in China.

Ms. Lee says she grew up in Cerritos, Calif., thinking of herself as “Chinese first and American second,” but when she moved to Shanghai in 2004, she felt more American than Chinese. “When I say ‘the Chinese,’ I have a separate identity from them, though nor can I relate 100% to being a white-bred American.”

>>More in this at Scene

U.S.-Born Chinese, Back in China to Set Up Shop – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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