Act of honor

Updated: 2012-07-20 07:59

By Tan Yingzi (China Daily)

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At the same time, Gold, who has written two books on Senate procedure, felt the urge to investigate the drafting of the exclusion laws.

"The distress Congress caused for multiple generations of Chinese - those who were directly affected as well as their families - is still real," he wrote in his latest work. "Shedding light on the past helps to ensure that such miscarriages do not recur."

Using senators' and representatives' own words, the book chronicles the sad and disturbing legislative history of the Chinese exclusion laws, with many passages transcribed from the debates, he says.

Though Congress expressed regret for passing the laws, the exclusion story remains unfamiliar to most Americans, including those of Chinese heritage, Gold says. He hopes his book, published on July 4, will help redress this.

Since first visiting China in 1998, Gold has developed a warm feeling toward its people and become committed to promoting exchanges between the country and the US.

Act of honor

He has been a guest lecturer at Beijing's Tsinghua University and the Foreign Studies University.

In 2006 President George W. Bush appointed Gold to the United States Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, a position through which he encountered the story of Jews in Shanghai. He led an effort in 2008 for official US recognition of Ho Feng Shan, a Chinese diplomat who rescued Austrian Jews from Nazi persecution during World War II.

To promote understanding of China, Gold has taken several delegations of former members of Congress to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum and told them the story of Ho's humanitarianism.

Gold says the US historically has a European-centered view of the rest of the world and that, partly as a result, most Americans know little about China. But he believes this will change as the US-China relationship continues to develop.

Current lawmakers in Washington who are around Gold's age of 65 grew up with the Cold War and had little contact with China, he says, so it is natural that many hold stereotypes about the country.

But much has been done, on various levels, to remedy this, he says.

"We need to know the difference between Ming and Qing (dynasties); we need to understand what motivates Chinese people, what Confucianism means to them.

"We do not need to agree on everything, but we should understand each other."

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