Chinese are leaving the Chinese city of San Francisco at the very moment that San Francisco has become, spectacularly, America’s most important Chinese city, with all the political prestige and potential pitfalls that ascendance implies. Middle- and lower-income Chinese Americans may be responding to the city’s affordability crisis by having fewer babies or by moving to the suburbs. But in an equally potent trend for the city’s future, overseas Chinese investment activity in San Francisco’s real estate is at a fever pitch. What no one doubts in San Francisco—in either the corridors of power or in the small shops along Clement Street—is that the city is now the great American Asian city. What we are just learning is how economics trumps race or ethnicity. The capital city of Asian America is becoming too expensive for many Asian Americans.
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