America’s Lost Chinese

The Rise and Fall of a Migrant Family Dream


Hugo Wong

ISBN : 978-988-8876-78-5

History / Diasporic Studies / Asian American Studies

May 2024

376 pages, 6″ x 9″, 45 b&w and color illus.

For sale in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, Taiwan and China with new Preface for HKUP edition.

  • HK$195.00

The inspiring, haunting story of Chinese migrant workers rejected by the USA who built a new community in Mexico.

From the 1850s, as the United States pushed west, Chinese migrants met ordinary Americans for the first time. Alienation and xenophobia lost the US this chance for cultural and economic enrichment—but America gave the Chinese new perspectives, connections, and dreams of their own. As teenagers, Hugo Wong’s great-grandfathers fled poverty in Guangdong for California. A decade later, excluded from the US, they helped establish a Chinese settlement across the border in Mexico, led by a world-famous dissident-in-exile with visions of a New China overseas. They would be among the Americas’ first Chinese magnates, meeting with presidents, generals, and missionaries, living through astonishing victories and humiliating defeats. The bitterest of all would be the colony’s tragic demise amid a violent Mexican revolution, leading to the largest massacre and deportation of Chinese in American history. This epic 100-year drama follows the lives of the author’s ancestors, via untouched personal papers. Though no Chinese group had ever gained such influence over a Western population and territory, their home in Mexico would long be forgotten. Today, this family story is reborn: one of nationhood, state racism and a turbulent century; of exile, grit, and new ways of belonging.

Hugo Wong grew up between Paris and Mexico. From 1995, he has worked in Beijing on the founding of various JVs, including China’s first investment bank.

“Wong’s family memoir is at once riveting and passionate in capturing the diasporic spirit of his patriarch ancestors, and sober and dispassionate in carefully situating them in the turbulent histories of three countries.”

—Evelyn Hu-DeHart, professor of history, American studies and ethnic studies, Brown University

“Through a remarkable saga of his family’s diaspora, Hugo Wong brings to life the aspirational dream of a rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. An important perspective that deepens our understanding of the West’s conflicts with China.”

—Stephen Roach, senior research scholar, Paul Tsai China Center, Yale Law School

“A riveting and moving story of resilience, identity and cosmopolitanism, following the rise and fall of the forgotten Chinese community of Mexico and its complex ties with diaspora networks in both the United States and China.”

—David Palmer, professor of sociology, University of Hong Kong