The study of Asian migration to colonial Mexico via the Manila galleons has been languishing in academic oblivion. By exploring contemporary archival and visual records of the chino, this article reveals the ambiguous status of Asians in a race-based caste system imposed by Castilians on the inhabitants of New Spain. It also probes the reasons behind widespread social amnesia in the mid to late eighteenth century with respect to Mexico's Asian heritage. Furthermore, this article contests accepted scholarly definitions of mestizaje that emphasize a purely Atlantic pedigree. Reconstructing colonial Mexico's chino identity is imperative for "reorienting" its social history and chronologically repositioning studies on Asian diasporas in the Americas.