The history of Chinese entrepreneurs in Canada is a long and complex one that dates back to the mid-19th century. Chinese immigrants first arrived in Canada in large numbers during the gold rush of the 1850s and 1860s, where they worked as miners and labourers. However, discriminatory laws and policies such as the Chinese Immigration Act of 1885 and the Head Tax prevented Chinese immigrants from fully integrating into Canadian society and pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities.
Despite these challenges, some Chinese immigrants were able to establish successful businesses in Canada. In the early 20th century, Chinese-owned laundries and restaurants began to appear in cities across Canada, providing essential services to Canadian communities.
During the mid-20th century, Chinese entrepreneurs in Canada began to expand beyond traditional sectors such as laundries and restaurants and venture into new areas such as real estate, finance, and technology. Notable examples include Robert Lee, who founded the T&T Supermarket chain in 1993.
Today, Chinese entrepreneurs continue to play an important role in the Canadian economy, with a significant presence in industries such as technology, finance, and real estate. Some notable examples include Joe Tsai, co-founder of Alibaba and owner of the Brooklyn Nets, and Terry Hui, founder of Concord Pacific, one of the largest real estate development firms in Canada.
Expo 86 impact on Chinese immigration
Expo 86 was a world exposition held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from May to October 1986. It was the first world exposition to be held in Canada, and it had a significant impact on the country’s cultural and economic development, including Chinese immigration to Canada.
Expo 86 played an important role in the promotion of multiculturalism in Canada and helped to establish the country as a leader in cultural diversity. It also showcased Canada as an attractive destination for international business and investment, including from China.
In particular, Expo 86 was significant for Chinese immigration to Canada because it coincided with a time when Canada was actively seeking skilled immigrants to help boost its economy. Many Chinese entrepreneurs and investors attended the Expo and saw the opportunity for investment and business expansion in Canada, leading to increased immigration from China.
Furthermore, the Expo also helped to raise awareness of Chinese culture and history in Canada, which helped to build stronger ties between the two countries and fostered a greater appreciation for diversity and multiculturalism in Canadian society.
Hong Kong handover effect on Chinese immigration
The handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule in 1997 had a significant effect on Chinese immigration to Canada. Many Hong Kong residents feared the erosion of their rights and freedoms under Chinese rule and sought to emigrate.
In the years leading up to the handover, Canada implemented policies to facilitate the immigration of Hong Kong residents, such as the creation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Visa Office and the Hong Kong Family Class Sponsorship Program. These policies resulted in a large influx of Hong Kong immigrants to Canada in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The Hong Kong handover also led to an increase in the number of wealthy Chinese immigrants to Canada, as many Hong Kong businesspeople sought to move their wealth and assets out of Hong Kong in anticipation of the handover. This led to the creation of new programs, such as the Immigrant Investor Program, which granted permanent residency to individuals who invested a minimum of $800,000 in Canada.
Overall, the Hong Kong handover had a significant impact on Chinese immigration to Canada and contributed to the growth of the Chinese-Canadian community.
As of the 2021 census, there were approximately 1.8 million people in Canada who identified as having Chinese ethnic origins, representing 5.1% of the Canadian population. This includes both immigrants and Canadian-born individuals of Chinese descent. Here are ten of the richest.
Changpeng Zhao, US$14.9 billion
Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ, is a Chinese-Canadian entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges. Born in Jiangsu, China in 1977, Zhao moved to Canada in the late 1980s and attended McGill University in Montreal, where he studied computer science.
Zhao began his career in the financial industry, working at companies such as Bloomberg and Fusion Systems, before entering the cryptocurrency industry in 2013. He worked on a number of cryptocurrency-related projects before founding Binance in 2017, which quickly became one of the most popular and fastest-growing cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.
Under Zhao’s leadership, Binance has expanded rapidly, with a reported daily trading volume of over $40 billion in 2021. The company has also launched a number of new products and services, including its own cryptocurrency token, Binance Coin (BNB), and a decentralized exchange platform called Binance DEX.
Zhao has been recognized for his contributions to the cryptocurrency industry, and has been included in Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people. However, he has also faced criticism for his controversial business practices, including allegations of market manipulation and insider trading.
Joseph Tsai, US$11.6 billion
Joseph Tsai is a Taiwanese-Canadian businessman and the co-founder and executive vice chairman of the Chinese multinational conglomerate Alibaba Group. He was born on January 1964 in Taiwan and later moved to Canada. Tsai studied economics at Yale University and then went on to earn a law degree at Yale Law School.
Before co-founding Alibaba Group with Jack Ma in 1999, Tsai worked as a tax lawyer for several years, including at Sullivan & Cromwell and as a partner at the Hong Kong law firm Baker & McKenzie. He was introduced to Jack Ma through a mutual friend, and was convinced by Ma’s vision for a company that would use the internet to revolutionize commerce in China.
Tsai helped lead Alibaba Group’s initial public offering in 2014, which raised a record $25 billion and was the largest IPO in history at the time. He also played a key role in the company’s expansion into new markets, including Southeast Asia and the United States.
In addition to his work with Alibaba, Tsai is also the owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and the WNBA’s New York Liberty. He purchased the Nets in 2019 for a reported $2.3 billion, and has since invested heavily in the team’s infrastructure and player development.
Pan Dong, US$8.3 billion
Pan Dong is a publicity-shy Chinese-Canadian entrepreneur who is the founder and owner of the Fruits & Passion and L’Occitane en Provence bath and body product brands. She was born in China and moved to Quebec in the 1980s. She started her career in Canada as a chemical engineer before launching Fruits & Passion in 1992. The company’s products are sold in more than 100 countries. Dong is known for her low profile and rarely gives interviews or public appearances. In 2010, she was listed as the 34th richest person in Canada by Canadian Business magazine, with a net worth of $680 million.
Huang Chulong, US$6.8 billion
Huang Chulong is the current chairman of Galaxy Group, a privately held business based in Shenzhen, China. The company operates in a range of industries, including real estate, finance, and technology. Huang Chulong is known for his success as an entrepreneur and his leadership of Galaxy Group.
Yuan Liping, US$3.6 billion
Yuan Liping is a Chinese businesswoman and the wife of Du Weimin, the founder and chairman of Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co. Ltd., a Chinese vaccine manufacturer. As of 2021, Yuan Liping’s stake in the company is estimated to be worth US$4.7 billion, making her one of the richest women in China and the world. She and her husband are known for their philanthropic efforts, particularly in the areas of education and healthcare.
Zhang Ning, US$2.4 billion
Zhang Ning is a Chinese-Canadian billionaire who made his fortune in the pharmaceutical industry. He was born in China in 1959 and later moved to Canada, where he founded his company, Bausch Health Companies Inc. (formerly known as Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.).
Zhang Ning’s family is also involved in the pharmaceutical industry, with his wife, Yu Yu, and his brother, Zhang Jian, holding executive positions at Bausch Health. According to Forbes, as of 2021, Zhang Ning and his family have a net worth of $2.4 billion, making him one of the richest Chinese immigrants in Canada.
Qiu Dongxu, US$1.2 billion
Qiu Dongxu is a Chinese-Canadian businessman and the co-founder of CanSino Biologics Inc., a vaccine supplier based in Tianjin, China. He obtained his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.
CanSino Biologics was founded in 2009 and has since become one of the leading vaccine manufacturers in China. The company’s COVID-19 vaccine, Ad5-nCoV, was the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for military use in China. CanSino Biologics has also developed other vaccines, including those for tuberculosis and Ebola.
Qiu Dongxu previously worked as the general manager of the Chinese branch of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a US-based pharmaceutical company, before co-founding CanSino Biologics. In addition to his work in the pharmaceutical industry, Qiu Dongxu is also a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body in China.
Yu Xuefeng, US$1.2 billion
Yu Xuefeng is the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of CanSino Biologics, a vaccine supplier based in China. He co-founded the company in 2009 in Tianjin, China, with Qiu Dongxu and Zhu Tao. Yu Xuefeng received his doctorate in immunology from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. He has extensive experience in the biopharmaceutical industry and has held executive positions at other biopharmaceutical companies, including Merck & Co. and Sanofi Pasteur. Under his leadership, CanSino Biologics has developed a COVID-19 vaccine that has been authorized for emergency use in several countries.
Zhao Tongtong, US$1.1 billion
Co-founder of H World Group, which is the operator of one of the largest hotel chains in China.
Mao Huihua, US$1 billion
Mao Huihua is a co-founder and senior vice president of CanSino Biologics, a biotechnology company based in Tianjin, China. CanSino specializes in the development and production of vaccines and has gained global attention for its COVID-19 vaccine. Mao Huihua is a key figure in CanSino’s management team and has been instrumental in the company’s growth and success. She has a background in medicine and has held various positions in the pharmaceutical industry before co-founding CanSino.
Sources: the Bloomberg Billionaires Index and The World’s Billionaires by Forbes and ChatGPT.