MovieChat Forums > China Girl (1987) Discussion > The REAL LIFE relationship between the C...

The REAL LIFE relationship between the Chinese and the Italians?

Whenever we hear of racial tensions in New York, it always Puerto Ricans vs Blacks, Blacks vs Jews, Puerto Ricans vs Italians ect. But where do the Chinese stand in all of this?

I've heard a lot of things and have seen many TV doctumentries about the ethnic makeup of NY. Now from what I understand, the REAL little Italy is being taken over by Chinese businesses and the Italians residents there have already thrown in the towel, rigth? They are just leaving now without a fight?

I guess what I want to know is how "realistic" is this movie? were Italian and Chinese gangs really at each others throats in the 80's?



I don't know about the extent of the violence between Italian and Chinese gangs except vague mentions in newspaper articles mentioning "friction". If there is any violence it is kept out of sight from visitors to the area. I do know that the Chinese have made inroads in Little Italy real estate. One Italian friend of mine has told me that the mafia pretty much relinquished that property and have moved business elsewhere. But China Town has had to open it's neighborhood to Arabs and African merchants who work side by side with them. Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Mayor Bloomberg have pretty much dissolved strict ethnic lines. No where near completely, but Manhattan is very much multi cultural. That's my take on it anyway.

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In my day growing up in NYC, the Italians and triads were working together in the heroine trade, so they didn't fight too often


by sht-4 4 hours ago (Fri Jul 8 2011 21:45:25) Ignore this User | Report Abuse
In my day growing up in NYC, the Italians and triads were working together in the heroine trade, so they didn't fight too often

My response:

Yeah that would not surprise me.

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I myself have never heard about PR's against Blacks but that it's usually everybody against them both; mainly the blacks. As far as the Chinese and Italians go, I don't know about their history per say as I'm from Brooklyn, not over there but I think it's safe to assume that we all know of the famous politically corrected hospitality Italian-American's are known for when non-whites traverse their neighborhoods, especially since days past.

I do know that many Italian people are leaving Queens and Brookyn, to head for Staten Island like it's a refuge or something. Little Italy may be no different.

As for the street gangs, I think it could be possible. NYC was a very wild place back then.'s a museum of sorts.


To the best of my knowledge, the rivalry portrayed in this film is COMPLETELY FICTIONAL.

I can tell you that my Italian-American grandmother grew up in Little Italy with her family during the 1920s / 1930s, and two of her younger siblings married Chinese from Chinatown. And this was not considered uncommon… Years later when I told my grandmother about this movie (and the way it portrayed gang rivalries between Little Italy and Chinatown), she said she’d never heard of anything like that.

I can also tell you - based on my own experience of visiting the area in the 1980s - that by the time this movie was made, the “neighborhood” of Little Italy had virtually no Italian-American residents left. The area called Little Italy was just four blocks on Mulberry Street of Italian Restaurants and Tourist Shops. The Italian-American workers there did not live close by - they commuted from New Jersey, Staten Island, or Long Island. I clearly remember speaking to several shop owners who clarified this (not just about their own business, but also other businesses in Little Italy). I also happen to remember one Italian Tourist shop which hired a young Asian girl as an employee behind the counter (I always assumed she was a Chinese-American resident of Chinatown, but I never actually asked).

I can also tell you that in the 1980s (and still to this day), Mott Street - the heart of Chinatown - was a big tourist attraction, not a place of gang wars. Tourists visiting Manhattan, not to mention family residents of the outer boroughs, would often go to Mott Street on a Saturday to get a good Chinese meal. It was always a treat to visit Mott Street… My point here is that in the 1980s, BOTH the neighborhoods of Chinatown and Little Italy depended on outsiders to keep their businesses going. Every day and night, people of all different kinds ethnic backgrounds - from all over New York City and all over the world - would walk down these streets, shop in the stores, eat in the restaurants, etc, and they were ALWAYS welcomed by the store owners and local residents.

Bottom line is: the more familiar you are with this area (and its history), the more you realize how fictional this movie is.


I am a lifelong New Yorker, born, raised and still reside in NYC. I had numerous Italian friends growing up and I never once heard of them having issues with the Chinese or any other Asian races.

The Italians and blacks seemed to have major issues when I was in high school. There were several high profile racial incidents and I had several black friends who would not go into certain predominantly Italian neighborhoods unless they were with several kids from the neighborhood.

My Asian friends who grew up in NYC never had any issues with Italians. They have all told me if someone ever shouted something racist at them they were usually black.