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urbanguy

New 'Waves of Chinese' creates downtown haven

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Amid the hustling throngs milling through Chinatown's teeming markets, the small door at 900 Maunakea St. leads upstairs to a refuge of sorts.

The year-old headquarters of the Association of Chinese from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos is a cultural haven that the organization of Chinese immigrants from Indochina has carved out for itself at the edge of the district.

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The association uses it for meetings, but more often it's just a place members go after shopping or a business lunch to find kindred spirits, people whose language and cultural history resonate with their own.

"He comes here almost every day ... he comes here a lot," businessman and association member Ted Li said, pointing out James Ku and Nhiem Tich, who laughed and nodded.

About 60 percent of the roughly 800 households belonging to the association emigrated from Vietnam; there are about half as many members from Laos, and those from Cambodia comprise the remaining 10 percent.

What all of them have in common is their Chinese ethnicity. Southeast Asian countries usually have an indigenous population

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