By Carolyn Kuhn, Gene Chan and Bill Chen

Editor’s note:  May 7, 1843, marks the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States and May 10, 1869, marks the completion of the transcontinental railroad where the majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.  In 1990, former President George H.W. Bush signed a bill to extend Asian-American Heritage Week to a month-long commemoration of Asian American contributions.


The first major contribution by Chinese Americans in the United States was the building of the transcontinental railroads – the Central and Pacific Railroads linking east and west, resulting in economic development, commerce, passenger travel and tourism.  But full recognition of the role of the pioneering Chinese railroad workers has been a slow process.  The May 2014 induction of Chinese Railroad Workers in the Department of Labor’s Hall of Honor was a significant but long overdue step toward recognition of their accomplishments, which entailed hard labor and skilled work, with corresponding high risk of life.

Launched in 2012, Stanford University’s Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project constitutes a comprehensive research and collection effort to detail who the workers were, how they lived and how their experiences changed their lives.  The project involves an interdisciplinary, transnational effort that will result in an online multilingual digital archive. 

Upon the submission of input to the Stanford project by one of the authors, a serendipity finding surfaced – there were two other descendants who served in World War II in China in the 14th Air Force (Flying Tigers) under the legendary General Claire L. Chennault.  All three served as officers; two in the U.S. Army Air Corps and one in the Chinese Air Force.  Two were pilots: one a Hump pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps, one a P-40 and P-51 fighter pilot in the Chinese Air Force.  

By Greg Hugh

The dreams of several basketball legends recently came true when the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced its class for 2016.  Unlike Cooperstown or Canton, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. is not linked specifically with the American pro league.  It also honors international players, amateurs, women, coaches, contributors and referees.  The criteria for admittance to the hoops hall is less focused on American professional on-court performance.  

In 2002, Yao Ming went from the basketball courts in his native China (where he had already played five seasons of basketball) to being a first overall pick in the NBA Draft.   

However, the NBA had never seen a player like Yao Ming.  Not only is he 7'6" tall, he is Chinese.

By Elaine Dunn

The U.S. representative at the 17th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw this October is no stranger to Minnesota.  Eric Lu was the winner of the Minnesota International e-Piano Junior Competition in 2013.  Before heading off to Warsaw for one of the world’s most important and prestigious piano competitions, Lu will be in town performing at the local Frederic Chopin Society’s pre-season all-Chopin recital on Sept. 20.  (Concert details at

By Elaine Dunn

Chang Wang, attorney and chief research and academic officer of Thomson Reuters and a regular contributor to China Insight, is one of the honorees to receive 2015 Diversity in Business Award from Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.  The award recognizes some of the Twin Cities’ leading business leaders, owners and executives from ethnic minority community and the GLBT community.  The winners are those who play strong leadership roles inside and outside their jobs and serve in industry associations or community organizations.  China Insight interviews Wang as he reflects on important persons and events in his life and career. 


By Greg Hugh

Major General William S. Chen (retired) recently presented an autobiographical account of his life, incorporating some parallels with those of his father.  The presentation was co-sponsored by Peking University and Tsinghua Alumni Associations.  The presentation was delivered in English and was held on the campus of the University of Minnesota.  The meeting room was filled to capacity and included a multigenerational and ethnically mixed audience. 

CAAM Horizweb2

Terms Of Use

Terms of Use All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without prior written permission of the publisher. For permission requests, contact [email protected] with subject line “Permission request.”


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.