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.
By Jackson Benning, contributor
Last Nov. 16, students (including me) from the University of Minnesota and Metropolitan State University visited the courtroom of the Honorable Judge Tony Leung, the first Chinese American federal judge in the state of Minnesota. We were all students from two classes taught by Professor Chang Wang at our respective universities.
The beauty of the United States Federal Building in St. Paul, did not escape the students. Marble floors; pristine, high ceilings; and the sheer silence of the building made us speechless. For most of us, this is the first visit to a federal courtroom. Everyone was excited.
As we entered Judge Leung’s courtroom, none of us wanted to break the silence in the courtroom. The courtroom was spacious with nothing on the walls except for the seal of the United States and a very intricate clock. Judge Leung walked into the room with a typical court entrance, with everyone standing and waiting to get permission to sit down. Instead of inviting us to sit though, he invited us to sit closer, at counsel table and in the jury box. It was at that point that I realized how nice and humble of a man Judge Leung was.
Besides being the first Asian-Pacific American to serve on the federal bench in Minnesota, Leung was also the first Asian-American judge in Minnesota, appointed to the state court in 1994.
By Pat Welsh, contributor
The communist takeover of China in 1949 saw a significant achievement of a comprehensive government. After the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China (中國人民共和國) on Oct. 1, 1949, the Communist Party (共產黨) expected fighting for a few more years. To their surprise, once Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang (國民黨, KMT) armies were shoved off the mainland, the whole country seemed to accept the communist ascension. Mao Zedong’s People’s Liberation Army (人民解放軍) found themselves able to sweep through the south and southwest fairly easily.
Public sentiment in the cities the first year was one of euphoria. The residents of the cities saw a conquering army of seemingly self-disciplined country lads who appeared to be both helpful and polite. This was in stark contrast to the looting and raping activities of both the warlords and all-too-often corrupt KMT troops. The new government was seen as cleaning things up. The streets and drains were cleared of not only the filth and garbage but also of the petty criminals, prostitutes and beggars. The beggars and those who had been involved in criminal and immoral activities were rounded up and sent for reeducation aimed at teaching them how they can and should become productive members of the new society. This activity was the source of the word “brainwashing” (洗腦).
Events in China moved faster than even the Party anticipated. The Communist Party numbered only about 750,000 members but there was a need to fill over 2,000,000 government posts at all levels. For that reason, the Party allowed most of the former KMT government to remain in their positions, receive salaries and continue their functions. While this was being done, the government abolished foreign privileges, stamped out corruption and mobilized the citizenry into people who repaired public works, spread literacy, repair railroads and steamship lines while controlling diseases.
[NEW YORK, Oct. 6, 2017] — The Committee of 100 (C100), an organization of leading Chinese Americans, urges the 115th United States Congress to pass the Chinese American World War II Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act (H.R. 2358/S.1050), and award the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the Chinese American Veterans of World War II in recognition of their dedicated service during the war.
Introduced in the House and Senate on May 4, 2017, the Chinese American WWII Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act has received bipartisan sponsorship (Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) were the original lead co-sponsors in the House (H.R.2358), and Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Thad Cochran (R-MS) were the lead co-sponsors in the Senate (S.1050)), and is awaiting additional Congressional sponsors.
C100 commends Representatives Royce and Lieu, and Senators Duckworth and Cochran, along with other Members of Congress who have subsequently signed on as co-sponsors, for their leadership in recognizing the military contributions of Chinese American servicemen and women who volunteered or were drafted at a time when the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was still in effect. Despite ongoing anti-Chinese sentiment at that time, more than 13,000 Chinese Americans served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II and sacrificed for their country in the face of discrimination and injustice.
During this time, Chinese Americans served in the U.S. Armed Forces in all theaters of war, including at Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Guadalcanal, and Solomon Islands in the Pacific Theater, and on all fronts of the European and African Theaters. The 14th Air Service Group, an all-Chinese American unit assigned to the 14th Air Force (Flying Tigers) under the command of General Claire Chennault in the China-Burma-India Theater helped provide transportation, supplies and and communications support at a critical time during the war. Chinese American women also demonstrated skills, loyalty and patriotism in the Women’s Army Corps, the Army Air Force, and the U.S. Naval Reserve Women’s Reserve. Altogether, Chinese Americans were crucial to the success of the war effort.
By Judy Hohmann, contributor
The first-ever Chinese Garden in Minnesota opened officially to great international fanfare and a watery welcome on Sept. 18, at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen.
Amidst mild rain showers, the “Garden of Harmonious Beauty” showcased a blend of Chinese cultural elements of architecture, rocks, water and plants — integrating artistry with nature. The new Chinese Garden celebrated the completion of Phase 2 design and construction with global partners, donors and supporters from the Arboretum and Chinese-American community. Guests previewed a customized pond and garden path, gated viewing platform, moon gate entry, peony pavilion, peony and plants garden, and trio of Qinling Mountain rocks from Shaanxi Provincial Government in central China.
Dignitaries included University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, who spoke of the long-standing sister state relationship between Shannxi Province and the State of Minnesota. In fact, Kaler stated the 103-year relationship of China and the University of Minnesota — with the Pan brothers and friend from Shanghai, who made their way in 1914, from the land of terra cotta soldiers to the land of 10,000 lakes — to study engineering and mining technology at the U. Currently, there are more than 5,000 alumni living in China, and, over the years, more than 8,000 students from China have earned University of Minnesota degrees. Right now, nearly 3,000 Chinese students are on campus.
Shi Chengjun, deputy director general of the Shaanxi Provincial People’s Government spoke on behalf of the Shaanxi Friendship Delegation; and Liu Jun, Deputy Consul General of the Chinese Consulate in Chicago, Ill., also shared remarks about the continuing garden partnership with the Arboretum garden and University.
From the Chinese-American community, Hoyt Hsiao provided a donor’s perspective on behalf of his family’s lead donor role for the Chinese garden path, named for his parents, Fred and Jennie Hsiao. Kaimay Yuen Terry, who with her husband Dr Joseph Terry, funded the moon gate, recognized the Chinese American Association of Minnesota and the many community supporters of the Chinese Garden. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Foundation President Todd Wagner then invited the event guests to join in a toast and ribbon cutting, and to explore the new garden.
Closing the program was a performance by the Shaanxi Provincial Folk Orchestra playing traditional Chinese musical instruments. A “family photo” of the extremely talented musicians, dignitaries and community supporters was taken at the conclusion, representing the community brought together by the new Chinese Garden. The Chinese Garden opened to all Arboretum members and visitors in late September.
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By retired Army Maj. Gen. Bill Chen
The Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the Congress and is the highest civilian award in the United States. It is awarded to persons "who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient's field long after the achievement.”
On May 4, 2017, bills were introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate for the award of the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the Chinese American veterans of World War II. Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) were lead co-sponsors of H.R. 2358 on the House side; and Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) were lead co-sponsors of S. 1050 on the Senate side.
The bills were the result of a campaign organized by the Chinese American Citizens Alliance (C.A.C.A.) to recognize Chinese American servicemen and servicewomen who volunteered or were drafted when the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was still in place – they fought for their country in the face of discrimination and injustice. Established in 1895, C.A.C.A. is the oldest Asian American civil rights organization in America.
The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States and proscribed entry of a specific ethnic group. The Act made it illegal for Chinese laborers to immigrate to the United States and limited the Chinese population in America.
At the start of World War II, there were approximately 78,000 Chinese Americans living on the United States mainland and 29,000 living in Hawaii. Despite the anti-Chinese discrimination at the time, some 20,000 Chinese Americans served in the U.S. Armed Forces -- a high percentage of the total Chinese American population. Approximately 40 percent of those who served were not citizens of the United States.
Chinese Americans made important contributions to the World War II effort. About 25 percent served in the U.S. Army Air Force (former name of the U.S. Air Force). The remainder served in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces in all theaters of war.
[Editor’s note: Vivian Wei Wu is a leading investigative reporter and new media studies scholar in China. Currently, she is the International Cooperation Director for Initium Media, a Hong Kong-based news, features and data journalism website and app. Prior to moving to New York City in August 2016 for a Political Science graduate program at the New School, Wu was the chief content director for China News at Initium Media in Beijing. Wu has more than 15 years of experience working in newspapers, magazines, TV and digital media. Among many other posts, she was editorial director at the celebrity magazine Portrait in China; media and legal reporter at the South China Morning Post Beijing Bureau for six years; and content supervisor at CCTV-6 for four years. She has won a great number of journalism awards in Hong Kong and Asia.
Wu has published hundreds of investigative reports, most notably reports on corruption, the crackdown on civil rights lawyers, food and drug safety, and environmental pollution. Because of her truthful reporting, she has been harassed by authorities on numerous occasions.
China Insight recently interviewed Wu via emails where she reflected on her career and her choice to be an investigative reporter, a highly dangerous profession in China.