Youth urged to get politically involved

Updated: 2014-11-13 12:13

By Hua Shengdun in Washington(China Daily USA)

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 Youth urged to get politically involved

Chiling Tong (fourth from left), former US deputy assistant-secretary of Commerce and policy chair of American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ACE), and Sach Takayasu (sixth from left), CEO and president of ACE, unveil their first legislative agenda at the Congressional Reception at Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. Congresswoman Grace Meng (fifth from left) attended the event. Sheng Yang / for China Daily

Asian-American youth should be prompted and encouraged to learn about mainstream US social and economic processes for their prospective futures, said a former political leader with a Chinese ethnic background in Washington on Wednesday.

"It's high time that Asian Americans join in the social process more actively and make contributions to our communities," said Chiling Tong, former US deputy assistant-secretary of Commerce and Policy Chair of American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ACE), which was founded in 2013 by a group of Asian-American executives and business owners.

Participation of Asian Americans in the US business world is not only imperative, but it's also promising, she said at the 2014 National ACE Congressional Reception on Capitol Hill.

The reception was held for the unveiling of National ACE's legislative agenda.

Chiling Tong, 57, encouraged young Asian Americans to participate in mainstream political and economic processes by talking about her own experience over the past 30 years.

Since coming to the US for an MBA at California State University in 1984, Tong heard "from time to time derogatory language directed toward Asians", she told China Daily earlier.

"For a long time it was very difficult for us minorities to speak out and stand up for ourselves," she said. "It's time to change that."

To prepare young ethnic generations to be future leaders, Tong, together with her husband Joel Szabat, former assistant deputy-secretary of transportation, founded the International Leadership Foundation.

ILF has offered scholarships and leadership training opportunities, through its Civic Fellowship Program, to more than 1,000 selected Asian-Pacific American college students from across the country to foster the next generation of leaders.

"It's important for cooperation between ACE and ILF to connect Asian-American youth to business people, for them to learn the legacy of immigrants and how small businesses drive the economy of this nation," said Soo-Kyung Koo, project director of the ILF.

As experts on both Asian-American business and youth training, it's our obligation to run the program, said Koo, 28, who is of Korean ancestry.

"Small businesses for Asian Americans represent the essence of the American dream, especially for immigrants and their future," said Congresswoman Judy Chu, who attended the reception.

Asian Americans account for 6 percent of policy makers in the US, 3 percent of business leaders and 2 percent opinion leaders, according to a 2012 report from Committee100, a group of prominent Chinese Americans which addresses issues in Sino-American relations.

Sheng Yang in Washington contributed to this story.