A century ago, Chinese Americans made up a relatively small minority, but today they number over 2.7 million people. The immigration numbers from China to North America are equally impressive: the Chinese currently comprise the fourth-largest immigration group to the United States and the largest immigration group to Canada. With 1.3 billion people, China is the most populated nation in the world, but overpopulation is only one of the country's many pressing issues. The Chinese government, which has been communist since 1949, has initiated economic reforms in recent decades, yet it still enforces oppressive measures on its people. Many Chinese seek to resettle in North America, where they may find better economic opportunities and are assured basic rights like freedom of expression and religion. Although the early period of Chinese immigration to the United States and Canada was marked by discrimination and prejudice, changing attitudes have helped recognize the significant role of this immigration group, which has made numerous contributions in such fields as philosophy, fashion, technology, and medicine.
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