Not only is the emigration of overseas Chinese an important chapter in the history of migration in the world, but it also plays a positive role in the cultural social and economic development in Kaiping, the homeland of a significant overseas Chinese population. From the California Gold Rush in the nineteenth century to the Reform and Opening Up, three waves of emigration have taken place in Kaiping, Guangdong. The unfolding of these episodes reveals how emigration is conditioned by the difference in the levels of social economic development and in social systems between China and the destination countries, as well as by the immigration policies in the host countries. Importantly, chain migration is made possible by the local social structure based on corporate form of kinship. The century-long history of emigration in Kaiping helps shape the values, social norms and mentality of local people and nurtures a unique culture of emigration, which proves to be a long-lasting trend with deep ramifications.