Congresswoman: Nations can learn from each other

Updated: 2011-09-05 08:00

By Alexis Hooi (China Daily)

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Congresswoman: Nations can learn from each other 

File photo of Judy Chu 

GUANGZHOU - She was in China for a week to talk business and politics, but the last leg of US Congresswoman Judy Chu's trip turned out to be one of the most personal and memorable parts - a visit to her ancestral home of Jiangmen, Guangdong province.

"Going to my home village and the Jiangmen museum of overseas Chinese it exemplified so greatly the hardships of the Chinese experience when they went abroad and had been treated so poorly by the immigration officials and experienced such hardships as they were trying to settle in America.

"It just brought home for me what kind of difficulties that my own grandfather and parents must have experienced as they came over."

Chu, 58, is a member of the Democratic Party and the first Chinese-American woman elected to the US Congress. She was elected to the US House of Representatives for California's 32nd district in 2009.

A year ago, Chu received a petition signed by more than 100 Chinese-American organizations urging legislators to pass a resolution of apology to Chinese Americans for discriminatory laws against them more than a century ago. A resolution to that effect was later introduced in May this year.

Chu's latest trip to Jiangmen gave her further resolve to work on the "expression of regret" for the Chinese exclusion laws.

Chu's visit first brought her to Beijing, where she met Lu Yongxiang, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislative body. She also went to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province.

In Nanjing, Chu visited the museum commemorating the victims of the Nanjing Massacre.

"We were very moved and very touched. And I don't think the world knows about what terrible things occurred. I want to work on a sponsorship to have that museum come to Los Angeles and do a display. I'd actually like to have the Jiangmen museum of overseas Chinese come to Los Angeles as well and do a display," she said.

It is all part of increasing understanding between the United States and China, a relationship which Chu said has sometimes been hit by "great anxiety and tension".

"There are some in Congress who are saying negative and angry things about China," Chu said.

"I felt that we needed to have this trip in order to help balance the perspective that is out there. We have more to gain in our relationship between US and China than we have to lose." There is also much that the US can learn from China, she added.

"We need to explain what great progress China has made, with some great advances that we can learn from. For instance, on high-speed rail. We actually rode the high-speed rail from Nanjing to Shanghai and we were incredibly impressed at how China could make these advances when we in the US actually have not been able to get our first high-speed train going," she said.

There must be increased efforts to better explain how the two sides mutually benefit each other, Chu said. She cited her visit to a furniture factory in Jiangmen and how it impressed her by creating more than 1,000 jobs for Chinese people, as well as creating export opportunities for the US.

"This is a furniture store that exports worldwide to places like Italy, Australia and the US. But at the same time where does it get its wood? It gets it from the US," she said.

China can similarly learn from the US in many areas, Chu said.

"I was really struck by the students when I went to the Peking University School of Transnational Law. This is the first school of its kind and they are trying to teach the students the American way of learning law, with critical thinking and dialogue back and forth."

Chu also took the opportunity to push a product from her home state that she felt "very strongly about".

"We have to let the Chinese people know how great American wine is. I was very shocked to find that 50 percent of the wine that is consumed in China comes from France and only 5 percent from America," she said.

"So I am on a mission to let Chinese people know that Californian wine is some of the best in the world."