US Chinese American WWII vets were 'forgotten, ignored and excluded.' That's no longer the case
Pandemic, politics drive Xi's absence from global talks
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping has been absent from the Group of 20 summit in Rome and this week's global climate talks in Scotland, drawing criticism from U.S. President Joe Biden and questions about China’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. China is the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and has pledged to begin reducing that output by 2030 and obtaining carbon neutrality by 2060. The U.S. and others have urged Beijing to make bigger commitments, but Xi's administration has strongly implied those will only come in exchange for political concessions.
Raymond Chan, a World War II veteran who enlisted in the Army Air Corps the day after the Pearl Harbor attack, wore a suit and tie for a Zoom call Wednesday afternoon as he received his Congressional Gold Medal.
He didn’t say a word, only flashed a smile. During the war, the 97-year-old veteran worked as a radio operator on an aircrew that dropped supplies in combat zones.
The day before Veteran’s Day, Raymond Chan and fellow World War II veteran, Hing Lee, 95, were the latest Chinese American veterans to receive the Congressional Gold Medal honoring them for their service nearly 80 years ago.
Legislation targets historic GI Bill racial inequities
For Veterans Day, a group of Democratic lawmakers is reviving an effort to pay the families of Black service members who fought on behalf of the nation during World War II for benefits they were denied or prevented from taking full advantage of when they returned home from war. The new legislative effort would benefit surviving spouses and all living descendants of Black WWII veterans whose families were denied the opportunity to build wealth with housing and educational benefits through the GI Bill. Since 1944, those benefits have been offered to millions of veterans transitioning to civilian life.
The medals were awarded under a 2018 law that formally recognized the Chinese American veterans' service. One-quarter of the country’s 78,000 Chinese Americans served in the conflict.
“The recognition of their service has been slow in coming,” retired Maj. Gen. William Chen said. “Chinese World War II veterans were largely forgotten, ignored and excluded.”
Thebanned Chinese immigration to the United States until 1943. Despite this, Chinese Americans fought on the frontlines in WWII. Their participation helped integrate Chinese-Americans into mainstream American society and break down some of the racial barriers for the generations that followed, historians said.
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The remarks come as Chinese President Xi Jinping became the third leader to oversee the politically significant approval of a "historical resolution" this week.The night before, Chinese President Xi Jinping joined the ranks of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping and became the country's third leader to oversee the adoption of a "historical resolution" at the close of a widely-watched meeting of the Chinese Communist Party, the sixth plenum of the party's Central Committee.
“World War II changed the lives of all Chinese-Americans,” said Montgomery Hom, a Chinese American historian and filmmaker. “The war was a monumental event that was the impetus that forever changed the Chinese community.”
Eager to serve
Alfred Chan, a 97-year-old World War II Navy veteran, was harvesting pears on his family ranch in Sacramento Delta in California in 1941 when he heard President Franklin Roosevelt announce over the radio that the United States was going to war. He knew he would be called into action.
Japan had already invaded China, so his home country had entered the war as well. “For me to serve, it meant fighting for freedom for both China and America,” Chan said.
Chan worked as a Seabee aboard an aircraft carrier in Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean for two years.
“We zig-zagged across the ocean to hide our destination and avoid submarines,” he said. As the only Chinese American working on the air carrier, Chan worked alongside other Seabees to fortify Midway, building airfields, munition dumps, submarine pens and Quonset huts for storage and soldiers.
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BEIJING (AP) — China on Tuesday hailed a virtual meeting between President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden, saying they had a candid and constructive exchange that sent a strong signal to the world. The positive description of the meeting came in sharp contrast to heated exchanges between the two nations earlier this year. The talks appeared to mark what both sides hoped would be a turnaround in relations, though major differences remain. © Provided by Associated Press In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency Chinese President Xi Jinping, fourth from right waves as he greets U.S. President Joe Biden via video link from Beijing, China on Tuesday, Nov.
He fondly recalls Sept. 2, 1945, the day Japan surrendered and the war ended. “I don’t remember much, but the beer flowed freely,” he said.
The desire to serve wasn’t limited to men.
“I wanted to join the military because I felt as women, we wanted to do our part,” said Ruth Chan Jang, a 99-year-old Army veteran. Jang first was a clerk before working at a New York Air Force Base, aiding wounded soldiers recover from injuries.
Jang said she enjoyed the camaraderie between her and the servicemen. One of her fondest memories was when she got an opportunity to take a group of recovering soldiers to two Broadway shows.
“And Uncle Sam paid for it,” she said.
Marietta Chong Eng, 98, said she took immense pride in being one of the few Chinese American women to serve. After the war, her military pride stuck with her when she insisted on being married in her military uniform instead of a wedding dress.
Another veteran, Margaret Gee, made history as one of two Chinese American pilots flying in the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots.
WTA demands answers, while IOC steps aside in case of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai
China’s state-run media released a statement it said was from tennis star Peng Shuai.The WTA's strong words came little more than an hour after Shuai’s name resurfaced in a bizarre post on the CGTN Twitter feed, more than two weeks after the three-time Olympian accused a former high-ranking Chinese official of sexual assault, then went missing as her accusatory social media post was deleted.
Changing the future
Before the exclusion, Chinese workers joined the rush of migrants to the West Coast after the 1849 Gold Rush. Many worked in gold mines, but others worked on farms and factories. In the 1860s, thousands of Chinese workers were instrumental in building the transcontinental railroad, despite being paid less than American workers.
Economic and cultural tensions rose and an anti-Chinese sentiment developed because they were taking jobs some people believed only Americans should hold.
Chinese Americans were harassed, beaten, and murdered, including the Chinese Massacre of 1871, where 17 Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles were tortured and murdered; the Rock Springs Massacre of 1885 where White rioters killed 28 Chinese miners and burned 75 of their homes in Rock Springs, Wyoming, and the Hells Canyon Massacre of 1887 where 34 Chinese gold miners were ambushed and murdered in Hells Canyon, Oregon.
As a result of anti-Chinese attitudes, Congress in 1882 passed the first law to ban a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the U.S. The exclusion act kept many Chinese nationals from entering the country and fueled further mistreatment of those already in America.
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Women's tennis takes a stand for Peng Shuai, a Chinese player who accused a Communist Party leader of sexual abuse and has vanished from public view.It is a case that touches on the most sensitive topic in China: abuse of power by Communist Party leaders. It also comes as Beijing prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February amid international calls for a boycott over China’s human rights violations.
The racism continued into the 20th century. Before the war, Alfred Chan remembers attending segregated schools in California because the “Chinese were not allowed to mix with whites.”
A theater in Sacramento once refused to sell him a movie ticket. Another time, he went home hungry when no one at a restaurant would take his order.
“I knew my place,” Chan said.
It would take the devastation at Pearl Harbor to break down some of the social barriers and to ease some of the overt racism. When America entered the Second World War, many Chinese Americans volunteered or were drafted.
Chinese Americans served in all branches of the military, including combat infantry, medical units, fighter and bomber squadrons, engineering, intelligence and support units, said K. Scott Wong, an Asian American history professor at Williams College.
When Chinese American veterans returned home, they capitalized on the benefits they earned. The G.I. Bill allowed them to attend college or buy a home. Hing Lee finished his high school education before enrolling and graduating from Cornell University.
“World War II changed the lives of all Chinese Americans,” Hom said. “The returning veterans got their benefits. They went to school, they started businesses, they became entrepreneurs, they became professionals.”
The U.S. repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943, which permitted Chinese people already living in the country to become citizens and allowed Chinese immigrants back into the country. The War Brides Act allowed Chinese Americans to bring their wives to America. The World War II veterans paved the way for future generations.
“Now as I look at the contributions of Chinese American World War II veterans, aside what they did in the war, what they did as well after the war was open up opportunities for all Chinese Americans to be a part of mainstream America, and through their hard work and sacrifices, they enabled the following generations like us to live the American dream,” Chen said at Wednesday's ceremony.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
Concern grows for tennis player who accused Chinese official of sexual assault .
The apparent disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has attracted the attention of the United Nations, Serena Williams, members of the U.S. Congress, and other international, high-profile individuals. © Provided by Washington Examiner Peng, 35, seemingly had her social media censored by the Chinese government and had not been seen for weeks since she accused a former vice-premier of China of sexual assault. Celebrities and organizations that have typically been reluctant to speak out against human rights concerns in China have publicly expressed their concerns over the case.