Asian-Americans honored in DC

Updated: 2016-07-14 13:36

By HUA SHENGDUN in Washington(

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Asian-Americans honored in DC

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (sixth from right in the front row) and his wife Elaine L. Chao, International Leadership Foundation (ILF) honorary chairwoman (fifth from right in the front row), with Chiling Tong (fourth from left in the front row), founder and CEO of ILF, at the ILF Awards Gala held at Capital Hilton on Wednesday in Washington. Provided to China Daily

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) may be just a small minority of the American population, but the community's voice is growing louder by the minute.

"After so many years of being invisible, we have pushed to break the glass ceiling, to get more AAPIs into Congress, and to be promoted by President Obama to the highest levels of the administration and judiciary," said Congresswoman Judy Chu.

Asian-American business and community leaders gathered at the International Leadership Foundation's (ILF) annual Awards Gala on Wednesday night at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC.

Although the Asian-American community makes up only slightly more than 5 percent of the US population, the contributions it has made to the US society and economy are significant, according to Chiling Tong, ILF founder and CEO.

For their great contributions to the AAPI community, the ILF gala awarded several accomplished individuals leadership awards, including Larry Lee, vice-chairman of China Daily (Holding) Co. Ltd.

Wednesday night's ILF gala also created an environment in which political figures could set aside their philosophical differences to celebrate achievements of the AAPI community, with both Democrat and Republican members of Congress in attendance.

California Republican Representative Ed Royce, chair of the Congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs, was recognized during the gala with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the AAPI community.

Royce's bipartisan legislation has fought discrimination against AAPIs including a bill that banned the slur "Oriental" from being mentioned in US law, and leading a fight against quotas and discrimination at institutions of higher education.

He praised the AAPI community, and promised to continue "to build relationships between Asia and the United States, and to assist this community," said Royce.

Former US Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and her husband, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, both spoke about the progress that AAPIs have made in America, and the success of the community.

Chao's family is a shining example of how far AAPIs have come, having been recently honored with the dedication of the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center at Harvard University.

"My parents are very humble, modest people but I have to say I am glad there is finally a building named after a woman and a building named after an Asian American for the first time in Harvard's 380 year history," said Chao.

Chao ended her speech by introducing her husband, who had words of high praise for the Asian-American community.

"One thing I've learned about the Asian-American community is you don't have to tell anybody how to work hard. America is a perfect place for Asian-American immigrants, because your reward for hard work is success," said McConnell.

Tong was thrilled with the success of the Gala. She stressed that bipartisan support from US leaders continues to play a vital role in the advancement of the AAPI community.

"The success of this gala is significant because we worked with both sides," said Tong. "We want to show the best of the Asian-American community, and to enhance the position of the Asian-American community. We hope the next generation of our young leaders will use all of our resources to make our community even stronger."

Allan Fong in Washington contributed to this story.