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 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.
China Insight hopes that your summer has been an enjoyable and fulfilling one. It is good to reconnect with you after our summer hiatus to recharge ourselves.
This month, I am departing from my typical pronouncements and instead will focus on the article written by Bill Chen ( page 6) regarding the Congressional Gold Medal for WWII Chinese American Veterans. We strongly encourage you to read the article and to get actively involved in getting the proposed bills passed by Congress. As noted in the article, the genesis for the Gold Medal was initiated by the Chinese American Citizens Alliance (CACA), which can be tracked at their dedicated website https://caww2.org/. CACA is the lead organization spearheading this effort and as we go to press, will be discussing this effort at their 54th Biennial National Convention being held in Chicago, Aug. 30-Sept. 2.
China Insight normally does not undertake nor sponsor any kind of causes, but is making an exception since we feel this is a no-brainer, non-partisan recognition that has been earned by Chinese Americans who served gallantly in World War II, which Bill Chen so eloquently presented in his article. 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 Congress to act favorably and swiftly on this proposal to commemorate the service of these Chinese American veterans.
To assist you in contacting our Congressional leaders, we have drafted a suggested letter (below) that can be sent to members of Congress (or use it as cover for a petition) to ask for their support of this legislation (Letter also can be downloaded from www.chinainsight.info.). Please feel free to revise the suggested letter to suit your own needs/style. But please make sure you sign it () before you send it.
In Minnesota, we have secured the support of Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Representative Betty McCollum, and we still have a ways to go. To track the progress of the Congressional bills, we have listed the following websites:
Senate Bill 1050: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1050/cosponsors
While we hope all Minnesotans of Chinese American descent will do their part, our success will need the support of everyone throughout the country, so we are also including a website where you can contact your Congressional members of your state at:
We also encourage the leaders of all Chinese American organizations throughout the country to reach out to their members to get them involved in getting this legislation passed. These bills have been proposed, but need their Congressional representatives to vote their support.
While we expect the Chinese American community to lobby for this proposed legislation, we welcome participation from all Americans since a Congressional Gold Medal for WWII Chinese American Veterans would be appropriate in light of the racial unrest now being experienced in the country.
China Insight intends to use whatever resources it has available to get the Congressional Gold Medal approved. We will be reaching out to the newspapers and other media to publicize the effort. If you have any contacts or other suggestions, please contact me. It would also be extremely helpful if we can locate a living Chinese American WWII veteran so his/her story could be shared.
Our website, www.chinainsight.info, has been revamped so you can easily monitor the progress of this project.
As, always, thank you for your support and we hope you will get involved with the Congressional Gold Medal for WWII Chinese American Veterans initiative.
Gregory J. Hugh
The Minneapolis-based Chinese Heritage Foundation’s commission “Dream of the Red Chamber” by San Francisco Opera will be touring the People’s Republic of China this month. The tour will include two performances each in three Chinese cities:
Sept. 8 & 9 in Beijing’s Poly Theatre
Sept. 15 & 16 in Changsha. The two performances are part of the grand opening of the Meixihu International Culture and Arts Centre Grand Theatre, one of the last projects designed by the late British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid
Sept. 22 & 23 in Wuhan’s Qintai Grand Theatre
The “Dream of the Red Chamber” performances will be conducted by Bright Sheng, marking the composer’s first time conducting his opera. In Beijing, Sheng will lead the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra; in Changsha and Wuhan, he will be joined in the pit by the Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra. The Chorus of the State Opera of Dnipro, Ukraine, will sing at each performance. “Dream of the Red Chamber” will be presented in the original production by acclaimed Taiwanese director Stan Lai and Oscar-winning Chinese designer Tim Yip. Performances will be by the original world premiere cast members.
San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock said, “Dream of the Red Chamber” had a profound impact in connecting San Francisco Opera to its broader Bay Area community ... I couldn’t be more proud that San Francisco Opera was the birthplace of a work that speaks so powerfully to such a broad audience.”
“Dream” played to capacity crowds at its world premiere at San Francisco Opera’s War Memorial Opera House last September 10 and at the 45th Hong Kong Arts Festival in March 2017. The San Francisco Chronicle hailed the opera’s “series of tautly constructed scenes that reveal the canniness of Sheng’s compositional strategy — in particular, his skill in crafting an operatic language that is a hybrid of Chinese and Western traditions.”
Adapted from Cao Xueqin’s lengthy 18th-century novel, the opera focuses on the illustrious Jia clan and the love triangle of Bao Yu, the young Jia heir, with two very different women: Dai Yu, his soulmate, and Bao Chai, a worldly beauty. The Jia family’s future and union between Bao Yu and Dai Yu are jeopardized when the emperor rejects Princess Jia as his favored concubine. Framed by a dreamlike prologue and epilogue,”Dream” relates the poetry and sadness of the original Chinese tale as a lush and lyrical 21st–century opera.
The opera first took root when Pearl Bergad, executive director of the Minneapolis-based Chinese Heritage Foundation, approached former San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley in 2013 about producing an opera based on the classic novel by the same name catering to non-Chinese speaking audiences. The tour performances will be sung in English with subtitles in both English and Chinese.