Although the Chinese American community has always strived to be good citizens, history has shown that they have not been treated fairly and need to let their Congressional leaders know that their service to our country needs to be recognized. Like many minorities, Chinese Americans overcame discrimination to serve their country bravely and honorably and we need to encourage the Congress to act favorably on this proposal to commemorate the service of these Chinese American veterans.
Members of the Minnesota Hmong and Chinese communities along with many city and state government representatives recently attended a special unveiling ceremony for Nkauj Hmong Lucy as guests of the Hmong Cultural Plaza Advisory Group held at the Community School of Excellence in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Nkauj Hmong Lucy is one of five Peanuts characters that will be sent to the City of Changsha, Hunan Province, China this spring as part of the Saint Paul-Changsha Sister City gift-exchange project established by the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society to coincide with the 30-year sister-city celebration in 2018.
The program included cultural performances and presentations from leaders from the Hmong community, local and state officials and the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society. It also included comments from Kao Lee Thao, the artist who painted Hmong Lucy.Add a comment
Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law are names well-known to Hong Kong democracy activists, the HK Police and, probably, Beijing. As of January 31, they were also officially “introduced” to the Nobel Foundation, thanks to 12 U.S. congressmen from both sides of the aisle.
In a move that may create more tension to an already tense U.S.-China relation, the 12 nominated Wong, Chow and Law for the Nobel Peace Prize for the trio’s efforts and leadership roles during the mostly peaceful 2014 Umbrella Revolution -- the largest pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong’s history. The three were sentenced and served prison sentences for their 2014 pro-democracy activities.
The congressmen’s letter of nomination stated, “Wong, Law and Chow and the entire ‘umbrella movement’ embody the peaceful aspirations of the people of Hong Kong who yearn to see their autonomy and way of life protected and their democratic aspirations fulfilled.”
The Nobel Peace Prize nomination is a first for Hong Kong and it could not have come at a more serendipitous time!
Beijing has been encroaching on Hong Kong affairs increasingly. Under Hong Kong’s “Basic Law,” (its constitution), Hong Kongers are guaranteed freedom of speech, assembly and demonstrations. However, it is clear the rights of the three student activists were infringed upon because their activities were not acceptable to Beijing and its agenda for Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s standing in various freedom indices had continued to drop on all fronts.
The metropolis now ranks the same as Namibia and Paraguay in The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index. That’s a drop of three spots from 2016. Hong Kong also lost its spot as the world’s freest jurisdiction – a position it had held for the past two years, according to the 2017 Human Freedom Index compiled by Canada’s Fraser Institute, a think tank that uses 79 indicators for personal, civil and economic freedoms in ranking 159 countries. On the 180-country Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, Hong Kong has continued to sink lower and lower, from 61 in 2007 to 69 in 2016 and, 73 in 2017. The Press Freedom Index reflects the degree of freedom journalists, news organizations and netizens enjoy in that country, including the free flow of information on the internet.
Collectively, it’s quite apparent these indices’ rankings show Hong Kong’s press freedom and the freedom of expression have been coming under increasing attack. The health and future of journalism and Hong Kongers’ rights are in jeopardy. This led Divya Gopalan of Al Jazeera to point out in 2015 that “Hong Kong had ranked among the top 20 spots for press freedom only a little over a decade ago, so what went wrong?”
China’s booming economy may be responsible. It has allowed China to infiltrate the media in Asia, especially in Hong Kong. In 2014, the independent Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit group whose mission is to “defend the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal,” reported that more than half of Hong Kong’s media owners were “members of China’s parliament or its advisory body.” Furthermore, many advertisers are now Chinese companies who have no qualms of pulling their advertising dollars should the editorial not suit them.
Since 2012, several journalists have come under vicious physical attacks for stories not in line with the Hong Kong government’s narrative. Booksellers have been abducted and detained in China for publishing and selling materials critical of members of the Chinese Communist Party. Outspoken journalists resigned abruptly, leaving many to wonder if they were forced out. These suppressive tactics are not letting up. This past January, the latest sign of Beijing’s intimidation of Hong Kong’s citizens and interference in Hong Kong elections came when Agnes Chow, a known democracy activist, was barred from running in the March by-elections to the city’s legislature. Chow was hoping to fill one of seats vacated by six lawmakers who were disqualified in 2017 as a result of their pro-democracy and self-determination protests while taking their swearing-in oaths.
Journalists are doing their job when they make their readers think and evaluate their existing beliefs, and ultimately uncover and present the truth. To do this, they need the protection of free speech in order to present dissenting and opposing viewpoints, as uncomfortable as that may be for their readers and, more importantly, for those in power.
Beijing does not subscribe to this concept. At this critical point in time, it remains to be seen whether Beijing’s continued encroachment on press freedom and the right to free speech and assembly will strengthen Hong Kongers’ resolve to safeguard their freedom of speech, assembly and access to unfiltered information. After all, they deserve the right to have a say over their own future, and that includes the freedom to protest.
In a Jan. 30, 2018 opinion piece, Martin Lee, a long-time practitioner of law and founding chairman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, wrote, “Every day I see the difference between Hong Kong’s ‘rule of law’ and China’s ‘rule of law.’ The Chinese Communist Party is always above the law, which is twisted so as to imprison journalists, activists and lawyers – even Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died last July in state custody … the authoritarian government on the mainland is leaning on Hong Kong to change the meaning of our laws, including their guarantees of freedom of the press, speech, assembly and religion ...”
Hong Kong’s young pro-democracy fighters are not necessarily challenging Beijing. They are fighting to have their democratic freedoms upheld, a basic tenet of the 1997 handover of the former British colony back to Chinese rule.
By Mary Yee, contributor
Imagine going on a hike in the woods and suddenly coming upon a live dinosaur in a clearing. The botanical equivalent of this improbable event occurred in a remote corner of central China in 1941. In the village of Modaoxi in Hubei province, forester Gan Duo came upon a large tree he was unable to identify. Because the tree had already shed its leaves by that time of the year, Gan asked a local school principal to collect branches and seeds the following season. Whether those collections were ever made is not clear, but the principal, Yang Lung Tsing, became interested in the tree.
In 1943, Yang met up with a former classmate who had come to central China to survey the forests and asked him, Professor Zhan Wang of the Agricultural College in Beijing, to help identify the unusual tree. Zhan agreed to have a look and found that the tree resembled the Chinese swamp cypress. However, its leaves and cones were clearly not the same as the well-known cypress.
by April Xu, Sing Tao Daily, Jan. 10,2018
The following translation is a condensed version of a story about Kam Mak, the New York-based designer behind the new Year of the Dog stamp. The story was written by April Xu and appeared in Sing Tao Daily:
The U.S. Postal Service is slated to unveil its Year of the Dog stamp on Jan. 11 in Honolulu, Hawaii, to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year. It is the 11th of the second set of the Chinese zodiac series of stamps that USPS has issued annually since 1993. Kam Mak, born in Hong Kong and a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology who has designed this and other stamps in the set, shared the story behind the stamps with Sing Tao.
The first set of 12 zodiac stamps, designed by Chinese-Hawaiian designer Clarence Lee, was first introduced in 1993 and issued for 12 consecutive years. Since 2008, USPS has been working with Mak to launch the second set.
As any kid visiting relatives and friends during Chinese New Year will attest to, the next best thing after receiving the red packets is the variety of snacks that are offered. What lays under the lid of that Tray of Togetherness (攢盒) -- the round candy box – can make or break the visit!
Every traditional Chinese home will have a candy box sitting prominently on their coffee table or sideboard during entire 15-day Chinese New Year celebration. This candy box, also known as the “Tray of Togetherness” because it is always round in shape to signify unity and completeness, is filled with an assortment of bite-sized preserved candied fruits, sweetmeats and candy (obvious, isn’t it?) associated with auspicious symbolism: luck, prosperity, good health and fertility.
The box is traditionally made of red or black lacquer with characters and images representing good fortune or happiness on its lid and on the shallow porcelain trays within. The number of trays are usually six or eight as the number six represents luck and eight represents prosperity. However, the box in the photo below has seven compartments! Upon additional web surfing, I found the number of trays can range from five to nine! So … go figure.
It is also customary to place two tangerines with stems attached on top of the candy box because the word “tangerine” sounds like “gold” in Chinese and its color resemble gold. So, it pays to add a touch of “wealth” to the sweetness.for the coming year. The stems of the tangerines represent longevity.
Aside from the snacks, other auspicious foods families eat throughout the New Year are long noodles to signify longevity; fish because it sounds like “surplus/abundance” in Chinese and represents abundance in luck and wealth. One caveat on eating the fish – one never flips the fish over because in the old days, that can mean a fisherman’s boat turning over at sea!
Families also eat a vegetarian dish on New Year’s Day as a “cleansing” gesture. The dish is made with a kind of seaweed that resembles long hair (gross to look at and a taste for which this writer never acquired!) but because its name sounds like “get rich,” everyone makes it!
Of course, there are the “cakes.” The sweet version, niángo (年糕), is made of glutinous rice flour, almond extract and brown sugar, then and steamed. The slices are then dipped in egg batter and deep fried. The savoury version, law brag go (蘿蔔糕) is made with rice flour and grated daikon, with bits of Chinese bacon, mushrooms and spring onions. It also is sliced and pan-fried after being steamed. (This savoury version is readily available at dim sums.) The name of these “cakes” in Chinese is “go” and homophonic for ”high.” Therefore, eating them means kids will grow tall and adults will rise high in their jobs!
Happy Year of the Dog and happy eating for another year!