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Chinese in Germany: How many are there and where do they live?

Tens of thousands of Chinese people live in Germany - and numbers continue to rise. We look at where they live in the Bundesrepublik and why they continue to call it home.

Chinese in Germany: How many are there and where do they live?
Photo: DPA

From cultural to trade ties, Germany and China share a number of connections. As countries with important manufacturing sectors and a focus on international trade – the port cities of Shanghai and Hamburg have been sister cities for over 30 years – it makes sense that these connections are strong. 

This is reflected in the increase in Chinese nationals who have decided to settle in Germany. 

The most up-to-date figures show that there are 136,460 Chinese citizens in Germany, up from approximately 120,000 just two years ago

While this amount can fluctuate due to the high numbers of Chinese who study in Germany, it illustrates how popular Germany is for many Chinese. 

These figures refer only to registered Chinese citizens, rather than German-born Chinese who only hold German citizenship. The broader Chinese community in Germany was estimated by the Federal Institute for Population Research to be roughly 212,000. 

Germany is quite rare among Western nations in that it has no recognized Chinatowns. While Hamburg’s Chinesenviertel – located in the inner-city district of St Pauli – flourished in the 1930s, it has only recently begun to bounce back from being shut down during the Second World War. 

SEE ALSO: How chopsticks showed me the difference between German and Chinese culture

Of the total cohort of foreigners in Germany, China ranks fourth on the list for non-EU countries with residents in Germany after Turkey (1.5 million) Syria (440,000) and the USA (324,000). 


The gender breakdown of Chinese expats is relatively unique, in that there are more women than men. There are 72,130 Chinese women in Germany, compared with 64,330 men. As we showed with our recent breakdown of Brits and Australians in Germany, the expat gender balance tends to tip significantly in favour of men. 

On the whole, of the 10,623,940 holders of foreign citizenship in Germany, there are just under a million more men (5,742,180) than women (4,881,760). 

Where do the Chinese live in Germany? 

Chinese nationals are spread across the country, with a strong Chinese presence in each one of Germany’s 16 states. 

As could be expected, the majority of Chinese live in the larger states of North-Rhine Westphalia (34,495), Baden-Württemberg (21,465) and Bavaria (20,360).

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There are large numbers of Chinese in Hesse (13,260), Saxony (6,555) and Rhineland-Palatinate (4,145). 

Hamburg, with its historical Chinese connection, has a population of 5,900. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping saying hello in June 2016 in Beijing. Image: DPA

Which parts of Germany have the fewest Chinese? 

While the number of Chinese in the former East German state of Saxony (6,555) may be high, the numbers across the rest of the former east are comparatively low. 

In Saxony Anhalt there are 2,585 Chinese nationals, in Thuringia there are 2,110, in Brandenburg there are 1,475 and in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania there are 815, the state with the fewest Chinese. 

SEE ALSO: Who are Germany's foreign population and where do they live?


One of the reasons for the increase is a growth in students. China provides the highest number of overseas students in Germany, making up just under 13 percent of the country’s total cohort. In total there were 32,268 Chinese students enrolled in German universities in 2017, an increase of 6.6 per cent from 2016. 

The number of Chinese students in Germany is more than double that of the next highest (India, with 13,537). 

SEE ALSO: Foreign students in Germany: why they come and if they plan to stay

As reported by The Local, Germany reached its target of 350,000 international students per year in 2016 – four years earlier than scheduled. 

The Chinese Embassy in Germany estimates there are currently half a million Chinese students studying abroad all over the world. 

Business time

There are also many Chinese business people who have set up shop in Germany, or work for already established companies. One small Rhineland village recently made headlines for being home to 1,000 Chinese people – many of them entrepreneurs – out of a population of 3,500 people.

SEE ALSO: The idyllic Rhineland village home to 1,000 Chinese

Close links have been established between China and the Ruhr city of Duisburg, where 30 Chinese trains arrive per week. In total, almost 80 percent of all Europe-bound trains from China make their first stop in Duisburg. 

On a larger scale, Germany has voiced growing concern as Chinese companies have bought up, or purchased controlling stakes in, high-tech firms, airports and harbours. Alarm grew in about losing valuable knowhow since Chinese appliance giant Midea in mid-2016 took over German industrial robotics supplier Kuka.

SEE ALSO: With eye on China, Germany toughens rules for foreign takeovers

There are of course also several Chinese-run and themed restaurants throughout the country – from basic take-out available at train stations to a selection of higher end Chinese fine dining restaurants.

While Berlin may not count nearly as many Chinese as other ethnic groups, its Kantstrasse in Charlottenburg has so many Chinese restaurants that it's sometimes dubbed the city's unofficial Chinatown.

This street is filled with food from throughout the country, such as the Cantonese Good Friends and Taiwanese Lon Men's Noodle House. For spicier options from Sichuan, head only slightly further afield to Tian Fu.

Are you Chinese, or of Chinese heritage, and living in Germany? Write to us with your experiences at [email protected]







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