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 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.
The subject of Pat Hui’s recent annual art exhibit held at the studio she shares with her partner Paul Kwok at the Traffic Zone Gallery in Minneapolis, was “Su Shi, (Dong Po) 1037-1101,” Su was one of China’s most celebrated poet, essayist and calligrapher. “For the past 60 years, I have collected copies of the calligraphy scripts and copied his style of writing,” stated Hui. In the past 35 years, she has formed her own style of incorporating poetry, painting and calligraphy: The Three Perfections. All the works in Hui’s exhibition were organized to commemorate the 980th birth year of Su Shi, aka Su Dong Po. It features works such as the immortal works of the “Red Cliff” poem I and II, the Cold Food Festival script and many others.
According to multiple resources such as Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia, references used in this article, it has been documented that Su emerged as one of the most prominent poets in Chinese history amidst the political bickering of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Su, also known as Su Dong Po, has since become renowned for his warm, detail-oriented poetry that has inspired Chinese through the ages.
With the start of more spring-like weather, Phase 2 of the Chinese Garden at the Arboretum is moving forward, following the successful installation of the Phase 1 Chinese Garden Pathway and viewing area, and Asian-inspired plantings in fall, 2016. In early May, construction of the Moon Gate that will grace the entry into the Chinese Garden and Walk commenced.
A special design feature is the Chinese calligraphy that will accompany the Moon Gate. The calligraphy, created by Hong Zhang, international artist and master calligrapher, and faculty member at the University of Minnesota. Zhang serves on the community advisory committee for the Chinese Garden & Walk. The inscription for the moon gate translates to “Garden of Harmonious Beauty.”
Other Phase 2 elements planned for the Chinese Garden include teak benches for family memorials and tributes, in Asian-inspired designs. (Memorial benches are also offered at other display and specialty gardens.)
A dedication ceremony for the newest Phase 2 features of the Chinese Garden is planned for September.
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