MN Disaggregation Of Ethnic Data

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By Mike Xiong, Business Analyst, Thomson Reuters

stpaulmayor_lei_web

(Mayor Coleman and Master Lei in front of the Stone of Hope replica and real size head statue of MLK)

St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman, Jennie Hsiao, board director of Shaw-Lundquist MN,
and I spent time in master sculptor Lei Yixin’s studio on Nov 14.  It was the
last stop before the farewell dinner hosted by Changsha Foreign Affairs Department. 
Lei spoke to the delegation of 10 from St. Paul about the progress of his project
and his plan for the coming year.  Everyone was very excited as Joe Spencer,
policy associate of art and cultural, St. Paul Mayor’s office, commented,
"this is the highest point of this sister city visit".

By Mike Xiong, Business Analyst, Thomson Reuters

stpaulmayor_lei_web

(Mayor Coleman and Master Lei in front of the Stone of Hope replica and real size head statue of MLK)

St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman, Jennie Hsiao, board director of Shaw-Lundquist MN,
and I spent time in master sculptor Lei Yixin’s studio on Nov 14.  It was the
last stop before the farewell dinner hosted by Changsha Foreign Affairs Department. 
Lei spoke to the delegation of 10 from St. Paul about the progress of his project
and his plan for the coming year.  Everyone was very excited as Joe Spencer,
policy associate of art and cultural, St. Paul Mayor’s office, commented,
"this is the highest point of this sister city visit".

Before Lei gave his video presentation, Coleman disclosed information to other delegates about how Lei was commissioned by Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) foundation as its sculptor. “It was about two years ago”, Coleman said, “St. Paul Public Art Association initiated an international rock carving symposium.  When this project came to my desk, I thought it was a great thing to do and approved the project.”  Lei was recommended by Jennie Hsiao to the Public Art Association as the sculptor from the sister city of Changsha.  Hsiao emphasized that it was her nephew who made the first contact with Lei.  I remembered that Lei told me that when he was first contacted by Hsiao’s nephew he was indifferent and did not believe it was a very serious thing.  “This is no different from many other invitations to similar symposiums,” Lei told me.  “Anyhow, I gave it a try”.  Well, this try led to amazing things. 
 
When Lei first got to St. Paul, his wife knew enough English for brief communication. Public Art president Christine Podas-Larson gave the couple valuable assistance in lodging and commuting between project site and their temporary home in addition to the assistance from local Chinese such as J.C Wang, Ms Ning Li and others.

The MLK committee heard about the symposium and immediately flew to Minnesota. When the committee saw Lei’s work-in-progress, later titled “Contemplation” and located by Lake Phalen, they were stunned by the artistic skills displayed.  Coincidentally, Weiming Lu, a famous local Chinese American with talent in art and language, was on the site to help Lei communicate with the group.  Lu told Lei that something very “big” would happen to him.  A few days later, when Lei got an invitation from MLK foundation for a prepaid round trip to D.C., he started to understand the significance of this event.

At the time of his trip, Lei was concerned about how he would communicate with the MLK committee.  I had recently interviewed Lei in depth for an article published in China Insight. The article was the lead article on the first page.  Lei brought 5 copies of just published issue of China Insight.  That article, Lei later told me, “I distributed the article to each of the member who reviewed my background.  Since I do not speak English, that article tells them everything they want to know about me.”

Although, the mayor, Jennie Hsiao and I each happily claimed credit for helping Lei get this influential project, we all know that it was Lei’s mature art skills and project experience that eventually convinced the MLK committee that he was the right person for the job after their six year global talent search.  We delegates from St. Paul are very happy and proud that we were personally and involved this “big” matter.

There have been some arguments and questions about MLK foundation’s decision to commission the project to a Chinese artist.  However, those arguments were mainly based on racial and political bias and they fade away quickly in front of more rational arguments.  The decision of the MLK foundation was based primarily on artistic standard.  Lei happens to be Chinese, if he were a black American, an Italian or a Britain, with his skill and experience; he would have got the project as well. 

Lei presented the St. Paul delegation a video made by the MLK committee.  It was a virtual tour to the imagined established MLK Park.  MLK statue (stone of hope, about 30 feet tall) is overlooking the Jefferson memorial hall of the other side of the lake Tidal Basin.  Lincoln Memorial Hall is on the northwest side diagonally across the Mall.  About 20 feet behind the stone of hope, are the mountains of despair.  Further back is a wall engraved with Martin Luther King, Jr. famous remarks.  Rows of cherry tree, flowers and green grass are used to make the park look beautiful as well as solemn.

The pre stone carving process have been completed.  There are three major steps to make a stone sculpture after artistic design.  First is to create a one to one ratio clay model (as good as final shape of art piece). Second step was to coat the clay model with steel glass.  The third step is to carve with real stone carving tool.  In order to create a very stable statue, Lei plans to reinforce the internal connection with steel bars inside granite.  He plans to move the completed pieces to DC late next year for assembling.  There will be more than two thousand metric tons in weight when all parts of the sculpture are completed.

Lei also disclosed to the delegation that his wife would send a small replica of MLK statue to D.C. early in December because a very important person would like to see it.  It was everyone’s guess that president-elect Obama might be that very important person.

After the presentation, delegates wandered through Lei’s studio and took as many photos as they could.  Coleman and others took photos with Lei in front of the replica of the statue.  In exchange of gifts, Lei gave Coleman a replica of the “Contemplation” he created in St. Paul in 2006. Coleman gave Lei a paper weight with St. Paul’s city landscape printing and a Timber wolf wood carving box.  The delegates were excited to be in the studio and they didn’t leave until it was time to go to the farewell dinner.

The sister city relationship between St. Paul and Changsha was established 20 years ago.  Since then, not many government and business activities happened besides the on-going communication between the mayors of the two cities and a few delegation visits mostly from Changsha at deputy mayor level.  This was the first mayoral visit.

Lei’s MLK project, however, was an unexpected happy achievement from the sister city relationship with Changsha.  St. Paul’s people are very proud that Lei from sister city Changsha has been commissioned to this project for our national mall.  This in turn has become a great link for stronger cultural, educational and economic corporation between the two cities.

The municipal governments of Changsha and St. Paul signed a friendship memorandum after a mayoral meeting.  On Nov. 13, Changsha’s mayor, Zhang JianFei met with St. Paul Mayor Coleman and his delegation.  At the meeting, both talked about the current financial crisis.  Zhang informed Coleman as well as his presenting subordinates that Changsha government is going to build a under river tunnel beginning next year.  It sounds like that Keynes theory of China’s versions is at work.  Of course, the decision of this huge public project was not made through any congress debate or public hearing.

The visit started in Beijing.  The next day, Nov. 12, the group toured the Great Wall, Tiananman Square and had Beijing Roast Duck before they traveled to Changsha.   The delegation stayed in Changsha for two days.  The first day included a visit to Hunan Museum in Changsha city area, Changjun Middle School, a sister school with Henry Sibley High School, Lu Valley New Technology Zone and Zoomlion, a heavy industrial equipment firm.  In the evening, were the mayoral meeting memorandum signing ceremony and a welcome dinner.
The delegation started with Broad town tour the second morning.  This is another miracle of China’s economic achievement.   About a year ago, Wall Street Journal had published an article introducing this firm and its CEO, Mr. Zhang Yue. Its product focuses on energy reuse and environmental protection.  There are buildings like small pyramid, a small Buckingham compound, a U.S. style bar and a German style residential house.  On the road, there are many life-size statues of Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Wright brothers and other western scientists since the renaissance days.  The most interesting thing is that American President Lincoln’s quotation in Chinese was engraved on the front wall of an office building.  There are no any Chinese past and incumbent leaders’ signatures and remarks around the company which are very uncommon in China.
In the afternoon, before visiting Lei’s studio, the delegation toured the scenic spots of Yuelu Mountain, Aiwan Pavilion and historical interest site Yuelu academy which educated some very influential figures in Chinese recent history.

The third day’s morning, the delegation visited a youth palace which hosts all after school talent developing programs.  The shows from the little kids are just so wonderful and impressed the delegation deeply.

The delegation left Changsha for Shanghai where 3M hosted the activities.  Kenneth Yu, Managing Director in large China area and Joe Liu, Vice President of technology introduced the delegation to local operation and product development.  3M’s business in China has been very good.  They proposed “in China for China” strategy and successfully developed that market which welcomes 3M’s products.  Of course, they emphasized that the profit created in China has been sent back to St. Paul’s world headquarters.

The delegation concluded its visit in China and left from Shanghai for Japan’s Nagasaki on another sister city visit.  The whole delegation returned to St. Paul on Nov. 20.

For the visit to China’s Changsha, Mayor Coleman has this comment: “From this visit we have seen and learned a lot.  We need some time to consider how we can utilize what we have leaned to improve our work and achieve great efficiency and material results from our work.”

It can be fairly claimed that this visit to China was very successful.  For a majority of the delegates this was their first visit to China and Asia.

Joe Spencer commented, “Before I came to China, I had already read and known the Great Wall and the facts about many things there.  However, once you are really in that place, you still feel much different.  You still get the feeling that nothing can replaced but by physically in that place”.

The trip changed the delegates’ way of thinking.  They start to see things in global perspective through experience instead of just theory.  Through this thinking method, more new ideas about cultural, educational business opportunities may grow and materialize in time.     

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About

CHINAINSIGHT (CI) is published monthly ((except July/August and November/December are combined) by China Insight, Inc., an independent, privately owned company started in 2001 and headquartered in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.

CHINAINSIGHT is the only English-language American newspaper to focus exclusively on connections between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Our goal is to develop a mutual understanding of each other’s cultures and business environments and to foster U.S.-China cultural and business harmony.