Cholon is the Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh City. It was once a city of Chinese people. It was founded in 1778 by Chinese. During the 1930s, the city merged with Saigon. During the time the Americans were in South Vietnam, Cholon boomed economically. The Chinese there controlled most of the light industry in the region around Saigon. They controlled so much of the industry though their own cartels and clan relationships that the Vietnamese resented them. There were between 500,000 and a million Chinese living in the Cholon area in 1975.
When the North Vietnamese won the war, they directly struck at the Chinese to transform South Vietnam to be like North Vietnam and put Vietnam under Communist control. It is thought that 30,000 Chinese-owned businesses were ordered closed in one day. All private trade was banned. The government ordered the Chinese business owners to become farmers or join the army to fight in Cambodia. There were numerous street battles as the Chinese tried to resist confiscation of their properties. By 1980, it is thought that the majority of Chinese had fled Vietnam as "boat people" or by going across the border of China or by fleeing into Cambodia. It is thought that at least half of the people who fled on boats died in the sea. Some say that as many as 70 percent of the "boat people" died at sea.
The area now is known as a big Chinese market area. The majority of the people there are Chinese. There is an abundance of Chinese restaurants, and it is a popular destination for tourists from China and Taiwan.