By Maj. Gen. Bill Chen, U.S. Army, retired
14th Air Service Group Memorial Day Parade 1943, Springfield, Ill.
On May 10, 2019, at Promontory Summit, Utah, the recognition and honoring of Chinese railroad workers at the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad completed the story arc of Chinese railroad workers. Along the way, Chinese railroad workers endured hard work, danger, risk of life, and sacrifices while also being ignored, forgotten, excluded and snubbed. Progress in recognition has been slow - the completed arc gave closure to the first major contribution of Chinese in America - the building of the First Transcontinental Railroad.
While not a historian, I would say that the second major contribution of Chinese in America and Chinese Americans was their service in World War II. Here I distinguish between Chinese in America and Chinese Americans, where the former were Chinese, not American citizens in America; and the latter predominately are native or natural-born Americans of Chinese origin.
Using some poetic license on what a story arc is – this article recaps the storyline of the Chinese American World War II veterans.
On Sept. 12, following a performance of “The King of Hell’s Palace” at London’s Hempstead Theatre, the Chinese whistleblower received a standing ovation from the audience.
The play, one the Chinese government pressured the whistleblower to cancel, is based on the whistleblower’s life and tells of the spread of the HIV epidemic in eastern Henan Province in the 1990s. According to a statement posted by the whistleblower on the theater’s website, the Chinese government feared the play would “cause embarrassment” to the government “and damage the reputation of specific officials.”
In the early1990s, Henan Province had a thriving commercial blood harvesting industry where hundreds of thousands of poor farmers were recruited to sell blood for a few dollars, which contributed to the spread of hepatitis C and HIV. Dr. WANG Shuping (王淑平) was the Chinese whistleblower. She collected evidence and exposed efforts to conceal an AIDS epidemic in rural China.
Wang was one of the earliest medical professionals engaged in the war against AIDS in China. She became aware of cross-contamination of plasma bought from poor farmers at a plasma collection station ran by Zhoukou city’s epidemic prevention center. The stations’ equipment was often not sterilized properly. “Leftover” blood was often mixed in tubs and transfused back into the blood sellers so they can sell more blood more quickly.
Realizing the gravity of the situation, Wang reported the issue to officials at the local health bureau. That drew no response from the local authorities. She then reported it to the Ministry of Health in Beijing, but was asked to falsify her data about the HIV epidemic among plasma donors. She refused because she knew, if unchecked, the contaminated plasma would enable the HIV virus to decimate poverty-stricken rural communities.
Her refusal to keep quiet brought on unspeakable hardships for her and her family. It cost her marriage. Her parents were forced to don dunce caps on a stage in front of thousands of people. She was physically attacked. She lost her job.
Despite all that, Wang stayed the course in her quest to stem the bad blood issue. She defied the Chinese government not once, but twice: first by refusing to cover up the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s and then, in 2019, exposed the pressure tactics used to intimidate her throughout.
In a statement published Sept. 3, 2019, Wang said, "They pressured me to close the clinical testing center but I wouldn't give in, and then Zhoukou health bureau sent people to cut off the electricity and water supply to my lab, forcing it to discard thousands of blood samples from blood donors. Eventually, they collaborated with the Henan provincial health bureau to close the clinical testing center.
“I am an America now, and am a U.S. citizen. I tell myself that I protected vulnerable and helpless people and that I have to be strong against evil powers. I hope the play helps expose and stop the kinds of corruption and bullying Chinese doctors, health officials and AIDS activists like Dr. Gao Yaojie, Wan Yanhai and myself endured during our efforts to draw attention to the Henan AIDS epidemic of the 1990s.”
The Chinese government quietly closed the plasma collection stations in 1996 and introduced HIV- screening tests, as recommended by Wang originally. Unfortunately, by then, countless (the BBC estimates more than half a million) people had already been infected; many families were affected. And it is believed an underground trade in tainted blood continued to flourish. In 2001, the Chinese government admitted there was a serious AIDS outbreak in central China, and established a special health clinic to treat AIDS-related illnesses.
Wang was born in Henan Province in 1959. When Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution began, her parents (mother was a village doctor, father was a math teacher) were attacked for their backgrounds. At 8, her education was cut short because of the persecution. Five years later, an uncle took her away from her home village, adopted her so she could resume her education. In 1991, shortly after graduating medical school, she began work at a plasma collection center in Henan.
In 1997, Wang moved to Beijing where she found others as alarmed by the AIDS epidemic in rural Henan Province as she. In 2001, she moved to the U.S. by herself, leaving behind her young daughter and husband, and eventually became a U.S. citizen and continued her medical research work. She remarried in 2005. She never returned to China because she said she “did not feel safe.”
“I ran into huge troubles, which involved the power and money against the lives of the poor and the powerless. I made the decision to stand up for innocent people who were infected by the severe HCV and HIV viruses. I didn’t concern myself with my own fate. This is the first rule as a doctor,” Wang said in a recent interview.
On Sept. 21, she died of a heart attack while hiking in Utah with friends and second husband Gary Christensen. She was 59.
An anonymous, partisan federal employee in Washington, D.C., blew the whistle on a presidential diplomatic phone call in 2019 resulted in a namby-pamby impeachment “inquiry.” A doctor in central China blew the whistle on shoddy government practices and saved thousands of lives. Whistleblowers are not created equal!
President Xi Jinping has steered China into one of its most repressive periods since Mao Zedong’s rule. Those who dare step outside party line are silenced, detained, or worse. The fact that he is unencumbered by presidential term limits has empowered his pursuit of “national rejuvenation” more than ever. And reunification is only a matter of destiny and a requirement for rejuvenation.
Hong Kong, in utmost turmoil as this goes to press, knows full well the significance of Xi’s power. The extradition bill introduced earlier this year raised their antennae for trouble ahead. The current Hong Kong protesters are prepared to do whatever it takes to resist Beijing’s increasing encroachment.
Of course, there also is a different camp who would like to see an end to the protests, if not just because of the inconvenience, but because of the chaotic image projected to the world. They fear economic repercussions and abhor the violence and property damage.
The violent clashes of 2019 stand in stark contrast to the mainly peaceful Occupy Central movement of 2014. But then, the stakes also are much higher today. The protesters are fighting for their freedoms and their way of life.
A Sept. 28 South China Morning Post article disclosed that Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, had to seek Xi’s approval to formally withdraw the infamous extradition bill despite saying it was her own decision to do so three weeks earlier. The mid-September U.S. Congressional hearing in Wash., D.C., which, amongst others, included student activist Joshua Wong, Cantonese pop star Denise Ho and Dan Garrett, a U.S. citizen and academic who had lived in and written a book on Hong Kong, told of deteriorating circumstances and increasing erosion of civil liberties facing Hong Kongers. Garrett was denied reentry to Hong Kong after his testimony in front of Congress.
Are mass arrests and martial law next? Or worse … a repeat of Tiananmen Square played out at Tamar Park, the Admiralty or any one of the many protest sites?
Who, besides Hong Kongers, is paying full attention to all this? The 23 million people on an island approximately 440 miles to the east of Hong Kong.
The island of Taiwan, for all intents and purposes, has been an independent, self-governing democracy since 1949 even though China has claimed sovereignty over it.
The Taiwanese are increasingly alarmed by what’s happening in Hong Kong since Xi had mentioned “One Country, Two Systems” may be a model for Taiwan after reunification, AND that “China reserved the right to use force” to that end.
Approximately 300 Taiwanese turned up in Taipei’s Central Park on Aug. 11 to spell out “Free Hong Kong.” There are efforts by private Taiwanese citizens to collect and donate to Hong Kong protesters kits of gas masks, air filters and helmets. As in Hong Kong, Lennon Walls at rally sites and coffee shops are proliferating in Taiwan as well.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has also been completely resolute in her support of the Hong Kong protests. A June 17 parliamentary statement included one paragraph that said, “The legislature expresses support for the citizens of Hong Kong in their pursuit of democracy and freedom. It urges the Hong Kong government to withdraw the extradition bill.”
Tsai tweeted in June:
Tsai has defied Xi’s reunification. In her 2019 New Year speech she called on China “to face squarely the reality of the existence of the Republic of China on Taiwan” and that China should “respect the insistence of 23 million people on freedom and democracy.”
However, Tsai’s sentiment is not shared by all Taiwanese. Her political rival (for the January 2020 presidential election) Kaoshiung Mayor Han kuo-yu is pro-Beijing. He visited with senior Beijing officials in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. But fearing political backlash for his “I don’t know” comment on the Hong Kong protests, he came out with a “never one country, two systems” statement.
China has been forcing the 20-some countries to sever their diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Since 2016, Taiwan has lost five allies. The latest allies to cave were Solomon Islands and Kiribati, leaving Taiwan with only 15 countries in the world that recognize its sovereignty currently. Despite a decrease in official diplomatic ties, Tsai has done a great job in increasing international engagement since coming to power in 2016.
Additional strongarm tactics from China toward Taiwan include forcing major airlines to list Taiwan and Hong Kong under China! Taiwanese representatives are blocked by China from attending international conferences as observers.
It also is reported that China is waging cyber warfare in an effort to sway the outcome of Taiwan’s January 2020 presidential election. As treatment of Hong Kong’s protesters deteriorate, Tsai’s anti-reunification position will only strengthen and help her political campaign. Those in Taiwan who may have previously considered the feasibility of signing a “peace treaty” with China can see from Hong Kong’s situation how fragile and untenable such a treaty may be with a country known not to keep its promises.
More and more Taiwanese and Hong Kongers have come to realize the benefits of collaborating in their resistance to China’s power grab.
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The local Chinese American community recently gathered for a day of music and cultural performances at Mall of America to celebrate China’s Mid-Autumn Festival. The daylong event was free and open to the public. Watch all the performances on youtube @ https://bit.ly/2NxBg0J
This festival is one of the most popular holidays in China. Much like America’s Thanksgiving, it is celebrated by the entire country where everyone travels to visit family.
The rotunda at Mall of America was decorated with many red lanterns suspended from the ceiling, providing a festive setting for the main stage where performances took place throughout the day. Unfortunately, seating was limited, as was the ability to view the performances from the edge of the rotunda owing to the placement of many posters extolling the virtues of the city of Chongqing, one of the event’s primary sponsors.
The event began with a cultural and tourist video by Chongqing, followed by performances that included the Chongqing Jaio Ayi Art Troupe that had traveled from China to participate in this event. More than 15 local members of the Chinese and Hmong communities presented 30-plus performances throughout the day.
The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival has been celebrated since the Zhou Dynasty (1045-221 B.C.). It started as a celebration of the moon. The Emperor believed that by giving gifts to the moon after the fall harvest would help guarantee a good harvest the following year. These offerings were usually placed on an outdoor altar for the moon to “see,” and consisted of various foods and drinks, like tea. The practice of celebrating the moon spread from just the Emperor through the upper class and into the masses during the Tong Dynasty (A.D. 618-907). It wasn’t until the Song Dynasty (A. D. 960-1279) that a formal festival was established and celebrated by the entire country. It is to occur on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar corresponding with a full moon, which means it can occur anywhere between the middle of August through early October in the Gregorian calendar.
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Source: Jennifer Zhan, Asian American News
Image courtesy of U.S. Mint
The Citizens Coin Advisory Committee (CCAC) has recommended a design for the Congressional Gold Medal for Chinese American World War II veterans, Coin World reports.
On Sept. 18, the committee reviewed more than a dozen designs each for both sides of the medal before making its rec- ommendation to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, according to Coin World.
The CCAC recommended an obverse side that depicts Chinese American service- men and a nurse. The recommended reverse side sets a World War II American flag behind an Iowa-class battleship (a class of fast battleships for intercepting fast enemy ships), an M4 Sherman tank and a P-40 Warhawk from the Flying Tigers.
According to the Chinese-American World War II Veteran Congressional Gold Medal Act, Congress finds that “Chinese Americans served the United States in every conflict since the Civil War, and distin- guished themselves in World War II, serving in every theater of war and every branch of service, earning citations for their heroism and honorable service, including the Medal of Honor.”
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) sponsored the bill that called Congress to award this collective honor to Chinese American WWII veterans. It was intro- duced in the Senate in 2017 and became Public Law 115-337 in December of 2018.
OCA– Asian Pacific American Advo- cates President Sharon Wong said in a 2018 press release that the recognition was “very timely,” given that the law passed following the 75th anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates is dedicated to advancing the social, political, and eco- nomic well-being of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“Over 20,000 Chinese-Americans served their nation and sacrificed their lives for the sake of our freedom. Although many of the veterans are no longer with us, it is still poignant that they have been recognized by their country for their service,” Wong added in the statement.
The law dictates that after the medal is formally awarded in honor of the veterans, it will be given to the Smithsonian Institu- tion to be displayed and made available for research.
Coin World also reports that the U.S. Mint will strike and offer 1.5-inch and 3-inch bronze duplicates of the gold medal for public sale. ♦
Note: Go to www.caww2.org to register known Chinese American veterans of WWII and perhaps be eligible for a free replica of the Congressional Gold Medal that is now estimated to be awarded in the Spring of 2020.
By Elaine Dunn
In 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong declared on Oct. 1 the founding of the People’s Republic of China
(PRC) and Oct. 1 would be its National Day.
That first inaugural proclamation was followed by a military parade, numbering 16,400 troops and
thousands of cheering civilians marching along.
The first National Day (1949) was captured by artist Dong Xiwen in an oil painting, unveiled in 1953. The painting,
however, had to be “edited” in 1954 where the bearded gentleman to Mao’s left was purged from the Party and the
painting after he called for Mao to retire. His spot was replaced by a potted chrysanthemum!
Since 1949, National Day in China has been marked by much bigger military parades (in Beijing and
Shanghai), state banquets, large political gatherings and speeches. In 1954, Beijing even sent a
representative to Moscow to study how the Soviets conducted such events. The result of that trip was the
addition of an “advancing forward in unison” element, where parade participants rush toward the review
platform to cheer and greet the leaders present. A “living image” element was added in 1957. This
consisted of thousands of people holding bouquets or colored placards facing Tiananmen Gate to form a
huge visual pattern.
Around the holiday, portraits of revered leaders are prominently displayed in public spaces still.
By Judy Hohmann, contributor
The fall season brings many Minnesota traditions, old and new. Why not make fall a reason to celebrate Chinese culture, too?
Start with the tradition of a changing Minnesota landscape, as it transforms from green to brilliant displays of red, orange, purple and yellow. Whether on paved walkways along urban lakes or wooded trails, you will feel the magic of Mother Nature’s most colorful season. Two serene spaces at opposite ends of the metro area infuse the beauty of Chinese culture: The new St. Paul-Changsha, China Friendship Garden of Whispering Willows and Flowing Waters at Phalen Regional Park — in an urban neighborhood of St. Paul; and the University of Minnesota-Shaanxi Provincial People’s Government, China Garden of Harmonious Beauty at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum — in the growing southwest community of Chanhassen, showcase distinctive interpretations of the classic Chinese garden design. Each garden prominently features gifts from Chinese government partners, ranging from a gilded pavilion to three mountainous rocks. The harmony with nature in the form of water, rocks and plants will uplift your mood and cultural pride.
Red pagoda at the Landscape Arboretum, Chaska
By Jackson Venjohn, contributor
In 2018, I spent eight weeks in Beijing at Capital Normal University studying Mandarin in a language-intensive program. I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing Asia first in Beijing because it is the cultural and political center of China. That summer was particularly impactful because I arrived at the beginning of formal trade friction between the United States and China. I had the opportunity to discuss Sino-U.S. economics with professors, students and newly made Chinese friends in Beijing.
In July 2018, at the International Monetary Forum at Renmin University in Beijing, I heard perspectives on the current U.S.-China trade situation from Chinese and American students attending the world’s top universities. The forum was particularly thought provoking as I recognized that with the possible exception of U.S.-Japan economic friction in the 1980s, looking back on history, there are few historical examples that are appropriate to compare to the current trade situation. The lack of historical basis makes forming an opinion and siphoning out truth on the current complex and controversial trade situation difficult, yet evermore fascinating.
This summer, I was able to return to East Asia for nine weeks in Taipei, Taiwan. Before that, I spent a week in Hong Kong with the purpose of understanding the greater Guangdong region better and strengthening relationships with business professionals in Hong Kong. My weeklong stay coincided with the first week of political demonstrations in Hong Kong. At the time, the magnitude to which these demonstrations would develop was unknown. In that way, I did not consider the situation thoroughly until several days after I had left.
Until arriving in Hong Kong, I had underestimated the differences between mainland China and the Special Administrative Region: language, culture, landscape, economics and politics. As Cantonese is the native dialect in Hong Kong, it felt unusual and uncomfortable being in an Asian city where I could read the characters but could not communicate verbally except through English. However, after several days in the financial center of Asia, I began to grasp just how special Hong Kong is. The vertical nature of the city’s seemingly innumerous skyscrapers fueled by the world’s freest economy and capital markets, is extraordinary given Hong Kong’s steep, mountainous terrain. Pairing the sweltering June heat with humidity seemed to make every trip outside feel like a workout.Add a comment
The answer to that million-dollar question is not black and white. As the saying goes, “It’s complicated.”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock in a deep well, you would have been made aware of the Hong Kong protests in national and local media.
Where, when and how will these protests end? Will they hasten Hong Kong’s demise? Or will the million-strong protesters stave off Beijing’s power grab?
Whether we side with the pro-democracy protesters or the pro-Beijing camp, we have to admit there are differences in the way things were run in the past and now, and how things will be.
So, is Hong Kong China?
Hong Kong was ceded to the British by the Chinese as a result of being defeated in the two Opium Wars in the 1800s (1839-1842 and, again, 1856-1860). It was handed back to the Chinese in 1997 under the agreement the former British colony would enjoy another 50 years of autonomy and to be known as a Special Administrative Region (SAR). This is where China’s “One country, two systems” come into play. Hong Kong will retain its own currency, legal system (completely distinct from Beijing’s and is based on British common law) and parliamentary system until 2047. The official languages are English and Cantonese, as opposed to mainland’s Mandarin.
Culturally, too, there are differences. Hong Kong may maintain Chinese traditions and observe the many cultural festivities, its exposure to international media and influences make its citizens take on a much more metropolitan view and ideology than the Chinese in the mainland, who have known nothing but Communist rule.
In 2015, a Hong Kong designer posted a series of “Hong Kong is not China” illustrations on Facebook depicting the differences between Hong Kong and China in terms of cultural habits, socio- political, censorship, judicial structures, etc. with the purpose of telling the world how Hong Kongers differ from the Chinese mainlanders and to “Mourn the fact that Hong Kong has been ‘colonized’ by mainland China.” Albeit some may be tongue-in-cheek, differences, real or perceived, are there. Following are some illustrations from the series.
Fourth of July. Independence Day. Nationalistic pride. A day off to enjoy community parades, picnics in the park, backyard BBQs and a night of fireworks. A day to celebrate one of the documents that is the foundation of the American spirit., the Declaration of Independence
In 1776, July 4 was a declaration of independence from the king of England, that “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.” It was an affirmation of freedom, liberty and freedom of choice.
The second paragraph of that most sacred of documents, the Declaration of Independence, states:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Yet for the Chinese who came to “the Gold Mountain” in the mid-1800s in pursuit of a better life, this sentiment did not seem to apply to them except for the few early ones whose diligent work ethic and willingness to perform tasks European Americans deemed undesirable made them welcome.
Life for the Chinese immigrants in the mid-1800s was absolutely no picnic. They were feared, loathed and stereotyped. Many toiled as inexpensive railroad workers, miners, cooks and laundrymen. For those early Chinese in America, they were certainly not considered equal and their pursuit of happiness, let alone citizenship, was much thwarted.
Then, as now, there is a portion of the American population who feel they and their identity are under siege with the presence of Chinese (then) and other non-Caucasian (now) immigrants.
As a group, Chinese Americans are considered the “model minority” -- self-reliant with good work ethics and strong family values.
Yet, as the timeline shows, the “fortunes” of Chinese Americans parallel the ups and downs of U.S.-Chinese relations. Things improved during WWII, when the two countries became allies. Those Chinese, particularly students, who were stranded in the U.S. at that time became new immigrants. When the Cold War began, Chinese Americans were once again the target of suspicion and potential enemies of the state. Right now, with tensions between the two countries high, Chinese Americans are once again looked upon with distrust by some.
The FBI’s current campaign on economic espionage has China and Chinese Americans in its crosshairs.
In January of this year, the director of the Center for Public Health and Translational Genomics at the University of Texas, a naturalized Chinese American award-winning epidemiologist, stepped down after a three-month investigation into her professional ties in China. (No charges have been filed against her as we go to press.) Hers is not an isolated incident. A Bloomberg article in June reported “the National Institutes of Health and FBI are targeting ethnic Chinese scientists, including U.S citizens, searching for a cancer cure.” Three other top Chinese American scientists from Houston had left in recent months.
We cannot be too complacent. The constant bombardment of “China rising” may lead to the resurrection of “Yellow Peril” paranoia. Some of the recent political campaign messages are reminiscent of the mid- to late-1800s anti-Chinese rhetoric.
As Chinese Americans, we need to exercise our rights and voice our concerns, just like Norman Asing and Wong Ar Chong.
As Chinese, we’ll never look Caucasian American. So we’ll just have to grin and bear the question, “So, where are you from?” and trust that one day, the 1931 study that concluded Chinese may be “American by birth, but not in fact” will be but a sad past.
So, what’s your Independence Day going to be like? Given the unmentionable hardships the early Chinese in America endured, we should all be celebrating with gusto! But also remember their struggles.
Less than a month after Andrew Yang, the first Chinese American candidate for president of the U.S., arrived in Minnesota to appear at a rally and a separate fundraising dinner, CNN released their latest rankings for the 2020 Democratic field. Out of 24 candidates, only 10 are placed in the ranking.
“For the first time,” Yang stated, “they placed me in the Top 10. That places us far ahead of sitting senators, governors, members of Congress, and former Cabinet members. We are gaining serious momentum — and the media is finally starting to catch on.”
According to the CNN rankings of the 10 men and women most likely - as of May 23 - to wind up as their party's nominee, two new faces got added this time around, which means two people had to drop off the list. The two eliminated? Former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
By Pearl Lam Bergad, Chinese Heritage Foundation, contributor
On the afternoon of March 31, the Chinese Heritage Foundation’s Sunday Tea Series presented photographer Wing Young Huie in a talk on his career and his new book, “Chinese-ness, The Meaning of Identity and the Nature of Belonging.”
Huie had invited us to meet at his studio, the Third Place Gallery, located in the heart of south Minneapolis. Fifty of us were seated in a semi-circle, bathed with natural light from the studio’s store-front windows and surrounded by Huie’s large photographs on two long brick walls. `
Huie began his presentation by talking about his father, who first came to this country from Tan- Shan, Guangdong Province in China when he was very young. He worked very hard, saved his money, returned to TanShan to marry and came back to work hard again. It was only after many such cycles before he was able to finally bring his wife and children over here. Wing Young was the only one of his six children who was born in this country.Add a comment
By Bill Waddington, owner, TeaSource, contributor
There are more than 3000 types of teas in the world, most of them from China, where tea dates back almost 5,000 years. Legend has it that the emperor Shen Nung discovered tea in 2732 B.C. when some tea leaves blew into his pot of boiling water. It is said the resulting brew with its pleasant aroma and sweet taste invigorated both his body and spirit.
Amazingly all 3,000 types of tea come from one plant that is native to China, Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. While there are many hot herbal drinks like mint and hibiscus, all true tea comes from this one plant.
By Sam Cleveland, contributor
Is the United States Department of Justice targeting ethnic Chinese in economic espionage cases? If so, is such targeting justified, or does it represent yet another noxious instance of American authorities using racial or ethnic profiling? Is the government targeting Chinese people at all, or are ethnic Chinese just more likely to be caught up in economic espionage?
These were just some of the many thorny and difficult-to-answer questions addressed on the evening of April 4 at the event titled “Pitfalls for All STEM Professionals in a New Era of US-China Relations” at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota campus. This program was co-sponsored by the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, the Federal Bar Association’s Minnesota Chapter, University of Minnesota China Center, and Kingsfield Law Office.
The evening began with a reception of approximately 200 attendees, half of whom appeared to be of Asian descent, including many recognizable leaders of Minnesota’s Chinese community. Guests mingled with the panelists, speakers and moderator in the McNamara Center’s foyer over drinks and hors d’oeuvres. One could hear many tongues, proof of the diversity of the attendees.
Americans know April 15 as tax day. But 107 years ago, it was a day that shocked the world.
At 2:20 a.m., April 15, 1912, the largest and most luxurious ocean liner of the time (and considered “unsinkable” by many because of its compartmentalized hull construction), sank into the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean. Of the 2,200 people on board, eight were Chinese. Of the 706 who survived, six of the eight Chinese made it.
These six Chinese survivors of the RMS Titanic tragedy disappeared soon after their arrival in New York.
There has been much coverage of the Titanic story by the global media, but nothing was reported of the Chinese passengers. Of the hundreds other survivors who were interviewed by the press for their survival tales, none paid attention to the six Chinese.
With President Donald Trump’s signature on Dec. 20, 2018, the "Chinese-American World War II Veteran Congressional Gold Medal Act," became law, making it official that this group of Chinese Americans will finally be recognized for their loyalty, patriotism and service to the United States during World War II. (Final version of signed bill)
By the start of the war in 1941, more than 100,000 Chinese and Chinese Americans had made a life for themselves in the U.S. Chinese Americans faced major challenges, including racial discrimination, under laws such as the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which limited Chinese labor immigration, the size of their population and their ability to build thriving communities. Nevertheless, almost 20,000 of these brave men and women served in the armed forces in every theater of battle and every branch of service, earning citations for their heroism and honorable service.
The Chinese Americans is the only U.S. minority group that has not been recognized for their service. Native Americans and Navajo Code Talkers, Tuskegee Airmen, Montford Point Marines, Women Air Force Service Pilots, Japanese Americans and Filipino Veterans have all been recognized for their service during World War II with Congressional Gold Medals — the highest honor that Congress can bestow.