Houston, Texas is the fourth largest city in the United States. It is also a city with many different ethnic groups. One growing group is the Asian community. Many Asians come to Houston to take jobs in energy and the medical field. But many also come to start a business because the cost of living is lower in Houston.
Chinese culture can be found all over Houston these days. But many young Chinese who live there say they are honored to be Texans. The increased number of Asians has helped one Chinese immigrant be successful.
That businessman is Wea Lee. He started Southern News Group here 35 years ago. Lee’s business success started with a machine for printing. He used it to print a newspaper for the small Chinese community at that time in Houston. He now has huge, modern machines and publishes community papers in several languages in 10 U.S. cities. He says he can print up to 28,000 copies every hour. Houston’s Asian population has grown by 70 percent since the year 2000. This helped Mr. Lee’s business to expand. It now produces newspapers in several Asian languages.
Houston’s Asian population is about seven percent of the total population. This is small compared to Whites and Hispanics. Each of those groups is over 40 percent, but Asians are mostly well educated and wealthier.
Wea Lee says his publications have helped many immigrants become successful. He wants to help them when they move to Houston so they can have successful businesses. He has also expanded into television, and the Internet. These businesses provide entertainment programs and news for the Chinese community.
Mr. Lee’s ITV television station works with a Los Angeles TV station to create programs for Houston. There are enough programs in Chinese and other Asian languages to fill the whole day. Because Chinese food is popular, the station also has its own cooking show. ITV also offers an Internet news program for China. News announcer Tongyan Zhang says people living in China are interested in Houston. She says they want to know if the city is a good place for investment, work, or study. Wea Lee agrees. He says people living in China especially want to know about education in the United States.
Wea Lee’s company not only owns newspapers and a television station. He also owns the International Trade Center in Houston’s Chinatown. In addition, he was a major partner in starting a local bank. He says that the United States gave him a great opportunity to start his banking and publishing businesses. Houston’s Asian population is growing faster than older cities like New York or San Francisco.
It seems Southern News Group will gain from that growth in the years ahead.
I’m Jill Robbins
*VOA correspondent Greg Flakus produced this story. Jill Robbins wrote it for Special English, and George Grow edited it.
Words in this Story
expand – v. to make larger; to grow larger
huge – adj. very big; of great size
invest – v. to give money to a business or organization with
the hope of making more money
opportunity – n. an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done: chance
publish – v. to make public something that is written; to
include something in a book, newspaper or magazine
station – n. a place of special work or purpose (“a police
station”); a place where passengers get on or off trains
or buses; a place for radio or television broadcasts
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