Monday, December 14, 2015

Holiday Cheer!

December 13th, Teresa O'Neill opened her house (once again) to our group. We enjoyed a nice take-out meal from China Stix, had some wonderful conversation with old friends and new, watched a bit of The Moveable Feast, and definitely started off the holidays in a fun fashion.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Roosevelt Institute Speaks Out

Member Flo Oy Wong recently sent us news from the Roosevelt Institute where her daughter Felicia is CEO. The Institute spoke out against Donald Trump and his racist agenda--and the news was published in the New York Times.  To read more--and to sign up for newsletters from the institute--click here

Friday, November 27, 2015

Exploration of Teen Suicides

Join us for a special screening of "Unmasked", a documentary exploring youth suicide and mental health. Created by a group of high school seniors, "Unmasked" was nominated as "Best Short Documentary" for an LA Film Festival. After the film there will be a Q&A Panel with some of the filmmakers. To reserve your FREE tickets click here!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Profiling Not OK

The following information was brought to my attention by Jack Peng, President of the Chinese American Forum. It was written by S.B. Woo, President of the 80-20 Initiative. People are asking that this information be shared.

Gathering Momentum
The US Commission on Civil Rights, a bipartisan commission, has by a 
majority vote decided to request DOJ for an investigation regarding the
questionable prosecution of Sherry Chen, Prof. Xiaoxing Xi and others.   
Click here to see the Media report.  

1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Suite 1150 
Washington, DC 20425 
November 18, 2015 
The Honorable Loretta E. Lynch Attorney General U.S. Department of Justice 
950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW 
Washington, DC 20530-0001 

Dear Madame Attorney General: 
On behalf of the United States Commission on Civil Rights we write to urge you to examine whether, in the government’s efforts to stop espionage by the Chinese government and Chinese institutions, it may be rushing to judgment in investigations involving Asian Americans, primarily of Chinese descent. We are concerned that the government is failing to exercise sufficient due diligence when targeting Asian Americans for investigation, surveillance, and arrest, due to their race or national origin. Recent news reports have detailed embarrassing attempts by the federal government to prosecute Chinese Americans for spying and economic espionage, only to drop the charges “in the interest of justice” after it became clear that serious errors had been made that were fundamental to the charges. 
A Temple University physics professor, Xi Xiaoxing, was arrested for allegedly sharing confidential schematics of laboratory equipment with scientists in China. FBI agents raided his home with guns drawn and he was taken away in handcuffs in front of his wife and children. The charges against Dr. Xi, a naturalized citizen, were dropped after scientists, including the co-inventor of the equipment in question, informed the government that the blueprints he shared were not for the equipment.
Another American citizen, Sherry Chen, was a hydrologist for the National Weather Service when she was arrested for spying for China. She was arrested at her workplace and led away in handcuffs past her coworkers. The evidence in her case was weak and prosecutors dropped the charges a week before trial. According to a former federal prosecutor who specialized in computer crimes and industrial espionage, “it’s clear there was a little bit of Red Scare and racism involved.”
We are concerned these and other examples may show a pattern of overzealous targeting of Chinese Americans. Members of Congress and national Asian and Chinese American organizations have raised similar concerns with you, but the Department of Justice’s response has been to dismiss these concerns without addressing the underlying policies and practices that led to mistakes which precipitated these wrongful prosecutions of American citizens. This is not the first time a person of Chinese descent was arrested for spying with flimsy evidence and suspicions based on the suspect’s race. Dr. Wen Ho Lee was a federal nuclear scientist who was arrested for spying and held without bail in solitary confinement for over nine months. Unable to prove its accusations, the government dropped its spying charges and charged him with one count of mishandling sensitive documents, which did not require solitary confinement. 
Dr. Lee received an apology from a federal district court judge for his denial of bail and solitary confinement and for the government’s misconduct in investigating and prosecuting the case. While these Chinese Americans were able to eventually have their charges dropped, they—and their families—suffered tremendously because of, at best, lack of diligence on the part of the investigators, and at worst, racial bias. Temple University demoted Dr. Xi as chair of its physics department and the government recently informed Dr. Chen it plans on firing her for many of the same reasons for which she was prosecuted. They watched their professional reputations get tarnished and incurred debt to defend their innocence. They endured months of being labeled traitors to their country, and were ostracized by neighbors, friends, and professional colleagues. Not only is there personal loss, but the nation loses promising and productive scientists when improper investigations foster anxiety in the Asian American scientific community over fears of unfair treatment. 
Similar to the recent request of 42 members of Congress4 calling for an investigation, we urge you to investigate whether federal investigators and prosecutors improperly over-relied on race in recent prosecutions, and to increase training and oversight over ongoing and future investigations and prosecutions against Chinese Americans for spying and espionage. As the Department of Justice states in its 2014 guidance on the use of race, biased law enforcement practices “have a terrible cost, not only for individuals but also for the Nation as a whole.” Very truly yours, 
Martin R. Castro, 
Chairman Patricia Timmons-Goodson, 
Vice-Chair Robert Achtenberg, Commissioner 
Commissioner David Kladney,Commissioner 
Karen K. Narasaki, Commissioner

Monday, November 16, 2015

Life is short. Enjoy your tea and company.

V.P. Winny helps our speaker serve tea

The treasured tea set from Taiwan
Restaurateur and Tea aficionado Kenny Lin brought his 25–year-old dragon tea set (which he had brought with him from Taiwan in 1996) to Teresa O’Neill’s for our November gathering. Kenny explained that the art of drinking tea dated back almost 5000 years. In 2737 there was an Emperor who was also known as a researcher and scientist. He liked trying different plants and herbs. He also had a practice of drinking boiled water. As legend has it , one time he accidentally ate an herb that made him deathly ill. At the same time, a leaf—Camelia sinensis—fell into his cup of boiled water. This leaf-flavored water counteracted whatever bad thing he had eaten, and besides, it tasted very good. Thus tea drinking was borne.
Kenny said that according to modern research, drinking tea can avert heart disease, keep your weight down by stimulating your kidneys, and prevent gallstones. It stimulates your brain and cleanses your digestive system. While tea has caffeine, it is better than coffee as tea also has antioxidants. Also, if you chew the tea leaves, it helps get rid of bad breath.
There are many types of tea (green, yellow, red, white). Some teas are best for the morning (Longjing, Yellow needle) and some are best for the night (Iron Goddess, Pu’er). But no matter the tea, it is also important to have good equipment. Kenny has a purple sand teapot from Yixing, China, a gift from when he and Winny visited as part of a USCPFA delegation. The pot can keep water hot for two hours.
Kenny put a pouch of loose tea leaves into the pot and poured 100C water on top. “The first brewing I don’t serve,” he said as he dumped what looked good enough to many of the rest of us. “I need to wake up the tea leaves. The 2nd brewing is the best.” Vice President and wife Winny Lin helped serve small cups of the tea, which indeed did taste like the best.
“Life is short,” concluded Kenny. “Enjoy your good tea and company.” That evening we certainly did that.
***And as a special treat, Billy Lee who had just returned from a trip to China, brought several lucky members a tin of tea to take home.***

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cut Out The Eyes

Join Asia Society Northern California and the Center for Asian American Media for a special screening of Cut out the Eyes, a documentary by Chinese film director Xu Tong, shown as part of the Cinema on the Edge Film Festival in San Francisco. Q&A with Karin Chien, the President and Founder of dGenerate Films, will follow the film
Where: 145 Ninth Street, First Floor, San Francisco 
When: November 20, 7-9pm

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Chinese-American Civil Rights Fighter
“American Heathen”  --The Stanford Graphic Novel Project

by Winny Lin
Vice President of CA South Bay Chapter

Out of the blue, I received an email about the publication of a graphic novel project about Wong Chin Foo,王清福, the very first Chinese-American activist, and his journey.  Thanks to both Shimon Tanaka and Scott Hutchins, Stanford lecturers and project leaders, I received a copy and started reading.

The novel tells the story of a Chinese-American who in the 19th century pioneered the struggle for the civil rights of his own people while under the restrictions of the Exclusion Act.  Today, the scenery has changed.  Chinese-Americans are working in every field, no longer are they isolated in restaurants and laundries.  Nevertheless, we are still struggling to improve our rights and places in the United States of America. 

It was amazing how Wong knew to use the same tactics we are using today to fight for the rights for Chinese-Americans--- newspaper, associations, testimony in US Congress, and traveling lectures.

In 1874 Wong became a naturalized US citizen.  However when he exercised his right to vote, he was thrown into jail.  In the novel he is quoted as saying “Cutting my queue, speaking perfect English, lecturing to thousands---none of it matters.” It is still true that in parts of America today, there is still subtle discrimination against Chinese-Americans. I remember when our attorney first jokingly called my husband, “Chinaman” many years ago, my smile froze and did not know how to respond. Last year when I subbed in a 5th grade classroom in Kentucky, a girl was mocking me and my accent. Where did all these come from? History and stereotype!?

The novel goes on to explain that Wong founded a weekly newspaper, The Chinese American, in New York City for distribution east of the Rockies.  The purpose was to keep the people informed and organized to fight for their rights. In 1893, he wrote in his paper about the Geary Act which extended the Exclusion Act and made it even more onerous.  The new law required all Chinese to carry their resident permit, or they would be deported or get a year of hard labor.  As difficult as it is to imagine, Chinese were not allowed to bear witness in court.

Wong established the Chinese Rights League and organized meetings to discuss how to protest the hideous Geary Act. “We won’t let stand a law that treats us like branded cattle” he is quoted as saying.  Over a thousand prominent Americans came  to support his rally at Cooper Union in New York City.  This reminded me of the rally held in Washington DC in 1963.  I was not surprised to see in the novel that Wong is compared to Martin Luther King, Jr.  However, Wong used the same strategy way before King. Interesting!

The novel reports that he spoke for 150,000 Chinese in the US and testified at Congressional hearings.  He faced Congressman Thomas J. Geary himself and said “I will not be photographed against my will like a criminal.  I would be hanged first.”  Why should Chinese be singled out for this treatment?  Although Wong did not completely succeed, Secretary of the Treasury Carlisle did make modifications to the government’s enforcement procedures under the Geary Act.  So his effort did pay off!

Wong traveled the globe giving speeches to the American public and promoted the awareness of Chinese culture, Confucianism, and the evil of opium brought by western world to China.  He even defended Chinese food against the rumor of rats and cats served in Chinese restaurants. One time he offered $500 reward for anyone who could prove that Chinese ate cats and rats.  It is so sad that people in the Mid-West still asked me if our Chinese restaurants in town serve cats and rats! History and stereotype! It has not changed yet.

Other than his fight for civil rights, Wong struggled with his own identity.  Was he a Chinese or an American? Once he was educated by Christian missionary and  baptized into the Baptist faith. However, when he spoke to the general American public, he often praised Confucius’ teaching as the reason for a harmonious society and criticized “the hypocrisy of Christianity”.   And that is “why I am a heathen”, he proclaimed.  He worked hard to protect the rights of Chinese in America, but was often sought after by Chinese tongs (secret societies often engaged in illicit activities), because he wrote about the vices existing in  of Chinatowns.  When he was in China, the Qing government put a reward on his head, due to his anti-government activities.  So where could he find his place?  Over 150 years later, many of us also are facing the dilemma: Chinese or Americans?  Or do we get the best of two worlds?

 Before reading this graphic novel, “American Heathen”, I was not aware of Wong Chin Foo (王清福) and his Chinese-American activism.  USCPFA South Bay chapter recently had several speakers to speak on the topics of Chinese-American’s history:
1.     Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants by author John Jung and artist Flo Wong
2.     The Angel Island Story by Buck Gee, president of the Board of Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation
3.     Long Overdue Dedication to Fishing Village by activist and historian Gerry Low-Sabado.
I have found these very interesting and relevant, since I immigrated to the USA during the influx of college graduates from Taiwan in the 70’s.  This publication of “American Heathen”, a project of a group of twelve students at Stanford has added more depth of my understanding of the struggle of Chinese-Americans.  Since the project leader, Shimon Tanaka came on October 25 and explained the process how the book was done, I feel more appreciative of this graphic novel, especially each of us present was gifted a signed copy. Thank you, Shimon. 謝謝!

photo #1 Many of us asked Shimon to sign our copy of the book.
photo #2 On behalf of the chapter, I presented Shimon with a certificate of appreciation.
photo #3 Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Member Dr George Koo Recounts Unjust Cases

Dr Koo recently attended the panel discussion on the case of Professor XiaoXing Xi, head of the Physics Department at Temple University, a man accused of spying on the US government. Mr. Xi was awakened in the middle of the night this May, handcuffed and lead away. His family was thrown into turmoil--emotional and financial--for months..until the US government suddenly withdrew its claims. Dr. Koo discusses this in his article, recently published in the Asia Times.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Spreading Stories That Need To Be Heard

Our October speaker, Shimon Tanaka, teaches several classes at Stanford (fiction writing, non-fiction writing, screenplay writing.) But what captured our curiosity was a 20-week course he does with colleague Scott Hutchins on the Graphic Novel. This class was started in 2008 by Pulitzer-Prize winning author (The Orphan Master’s Son) and Stanford Professor, Adam Johnson. During the class, students choose a subject or story, do research, write the script, add the art, and create their own graphic novel.
“It’s like a book-length comic book,” said Tanaka.
In past years, they’ve written about the first women in space, Africa’s oldest national park, a young girl living in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, the trafficking of South Korean women to San Francisco, and the miraculous life of a man who endured both atomic bombs during WWII. This year, they chose to research the story of the first Chinese-American activist. For their research, they found great information in Scott Seligman’s Book, The First Chinese American, which interestingly enough was recently reviewed by member Dr. George Koo. 
 Wong Chin Foo was born in Shandong Province in 1847. When he was twenty, an American missionary sponsored him to come to the US to study, assuming that after he was properly educated, Wong would return to China and spread the gospel. Wong went to the University of Lewisburg, PA (known today as Bucknell), only lasting a year before he went back to China to get married. Yet, something about his upbringing and education and travels had changed him. So when he saw corruption and mismanagement while working in the Customs House in China, he organized an anti-government campaign. The government immediately went after him, and Wong had to flee for the U.S., leaving his wife and infant son behind.
Wong noticed on his journey to San Francisco that there was a whole load of young women enslaved on the boat, having been tricked by a Chinese Tong. So, as soon as the ship landed, he reported the issue to authorities. This endeared Wong to the women, but not the Tongs.  (In fact in his lifetime, he survived numerous assassination attempts.)
Wong began touring the U.S. to introduce Chinese culture to Americans. He brought Chinese theater to New York, established a language school, and opened a Confucian temple. He also was the first to coin the term, “Chinese-American.”
At the time, there was a Labor Leader in San Francisco named Denis Kearny who ended all of his speeches with, “Whatever happens, the Chinese must go.”  Wong challenged Kearney to a public debate, and Kearny eventually backed down. Despite this, public opinion and legislation swayed against the Chinese.
In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. In 1892, Congressman Thomas Geary extended the Exclusion Act, adding more restrictions. A Chinese person had to have two white witnesses to testify to his/her (mostly his) immigration status. He had to always carry his certificate of residence or risked being thrown out of the country. Wong Chin Foo thought this was wrong. He established the Chinese Equal Rights League, as well as a newspaper to discuss such issues.  He debated Geary on the topic. Unfortunately, he not only lost the debate, but more importantly the issue. As our membership pointed out, he was just one person fighting the U.S. (The Chinese Exclusion Act wasn’t dismantled til 1943.) Despite his “failures“ and mis-steps, throughout his life Wong forged ahead, trying to explain Chinese culture to Americans, and fighting for all Chinese to be recognized, “according to principles of common humanity.”  
As an aside, Tanaka said that, although Geary St is not named after Thomas Geary—but a relative—it is still a happy irony that today this street in San Francisco is filled with Chinese.
The Stanford students who researched Wong’s life, worked together to create dialogue, drew the art, and revised, revised, revised. The result was the graphic novel, “American Heathen.
Tanaka brought each USCPFA member a complimentary copy.  For those who didn’t get a copy, it is available online as a free download.  The Stanford students also sent one copy back to China, via author Scott Seligman, to Wong Chin Foo’s great-great-great grandson.

“Thank you,” the man said. “Thank you very much.”

Friday, October 9, 2015

Commonwealth Club Program

Member George Koo writes:
I would like to call your attention to an important forthcoming forum at the Commonwealth Club to be held on October 22. The two speakers will discuss how conflict between China and the U.S. can be avoided from very different but relevant points of views. Rather than bore you with long bio descriptions of the speakers, I refer you to two links that tell you something about them.

Zhang Weiwei

Admiral (ret) Gary Roughead

I hope you will attend this event and help me spread the word and encourage your friends and others to attend. To register, please go to the link below:

A good turnout will encourage the organizers to move forward with the next in the series.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Let’s Celebrate the Chinese Moon Festival on 9/27/15
 by  Winny Lin 林龍素華

On the night of September 27, when the harvest moon appears abnormally large and bright as “blood moon”,Chinese all over the world will celebrate the second biggest festival of the year, “Moon Festival”, as it is August 15 on the lunar calendar.  While some of you are admiring supermoon eclipse, I probably will look for Chang’e, the beautiful Chinese Moon Lady somewhere on the moon.

The legend says thousands of years ago, the world had 10 suns that burned down the plants and people were starved to death. But along came Hou Yi in China, he shot down 9 suns with his bow and arrows and became a hero. People admired him and made him their ruler. However Hou Yi changed his temperament for the worse and wished for immortality. He found a magic elixir from a Goddess in Heaven. Before he could take it, his beautiful wife, Chang’r took it instead to spare the people from the rule of her cruel husband.  Immediately after she took it, she flew to the moon taking with her beloved house pet, the rabbit, for company.  Now she and the Jade Rabbit live forever in the cold and desolate palace on the moon.

Other than the folktale of the Moon Lady (Chang’r), Chinese also celebrate the holiday with moon cakes. My husband and I have already sampled a couple of fresh moon cakes from a popular bakery in Oakland, CA.  Yummy! $3.50 each. But the ones in the boxes are more expensive, especially the ones imported to the States from Hong Kong. The legend also says that during Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368 AD), the Hans plotted a revolt against the Mongols by concealing their message in the moon cakes. Talk about an interesting filling!
The Moon Festival is also a perfect time to teach students a poem by a famous Chinese poet Li Bai of the Tang Dynasty.  His poems are simple, romantic, but beautiful!

by 李白 Li Bai

床前明月光  Moonbeam by my bed,
疑是地上霜  Or frost on the ground?
舉頭望明月   I look up at the bright moon,
低頭思故鄉   I bow my head and think of my hometown.

Tonight we just bought a box of moon cakes to share with all who will come this Sunday to our monthly meeting. Enjoy!
In China, Moon Festival is the time for family gathering, when women (not men) worship the Moon with food, flowers, incense, and pomelo fruit.  I know I will look at the fullest moon on September 27, and search for the beautiful Moon Lady (Chang’r), what will you be doing?


Friday, September 11, 2015

WWII Pacific War Memorial Hall in SF Chinatown
By Winny Lin林龍素華

We never know what adventures we will run into in the 24 square blocks that make up San Francisco’s hustling, bustling and, above all, touristy Chinatown!  It is a place that I absolutely adore.

It was pure luck that we discovered the WWII Pacific War Memorial Hall while strolling on Grant Avenue with some friends.  It was even more amazing that we met Florence Fang, the founder of the memorial (see photo #1) and some of the very enthusiastic student volunteers from San Francisco Academy of Arts who help out as docents at the museum. 

The Memorial Hall is a museum devoted to remembering the Chinese experience during World War II and it is the first of its kind outside of China.  Now the exhibit houses hundreds of photos, artifacts, weapons and sculptures, in a 5,000 square ft. facility. The museum opened on August 15, 2015, the 70th anniversary of Japan’s signing one of the key surrender documents that ended the war in the Pacific.  The founder looks and acts far younger than her 80-plus years and I wonder if I will ever have the energy and determination to take on such a huge task when I get to her age.

The artifacts and exhibits are definitely amazing.  It took Ms. Fang over a year to gather and organize them.  As a whole, the Hall certainly accomplishes her major objectives in creating this museum: Helping the younger generations to understand what happened during the war, to learn its true history, and to realize the importance of maintaining peace.  Two bright red banners announce these objectives to visitors when they first enter the building.  尊重歷史(right) 珍惜和平 (left)To show that I understood the lesson, I hit the gong, “I got it!”  (photo #2)

 Ms. Fang’s dedication to this project is personal.  As she said in a recent interview, “Everybody lost their family members, everybody. Three of my brothers went to army and they give up their study in the middle high school, university, they went to join the army to protect their own country, protect their home.” The invasion of China began in 1937 and a total of 35 million lost lives during the war.

Although I did not lose any of my family members during the war, I did hear terrifying tales about it from my elders.  My mother repeatedly told me about fleeing from the Japanese soldiers by hiding in the rice paddy in Guilin and how the leaches sucked her blood along her calves. Yuck!  I also remember growing up with stories of Colonel Claire Chennault and Flying Tigers, a group of American fighter pilots who volunteered to fight with Chinese pilots side by side in WWII.  Mrs. Chennault, a Chinese-American, visited Taiwan and was in the news many times when I was a teenager. Photos and other artifacts of Flying Tigers are prominently featured at the Memorial Hall. 

One tall black cabinet at the entrance really attracted my attention.  Student  volunteer Jiang explained that during WWII, Chinese-Americans saved one bowl of rice daily, 一人一碗饭, and sent the money to the newspaper “Kuo Min Yat Po” 國民日報for them to keep in the safe to donate to China in the fight against Japan’s invasion. (photo #3)

When the Hall was officially opened on August 15, the Chinese consul general in San Francisco was a featured speaker and he addressed a large audience that included young and old, including many WWII veterans.  I am happy that I bumped into this place and met Ms. Fang and the enthusiastic volunteers.  Maybe you would like to visit there too.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

An Enchanted Evening with the Summer Quartet

Thanks to Peninsula Symphony Cellist Alan Bien, we had quite a treat at Lucille and Billy Lee’s home on August 23rd. Mr. Bien invited three of his musician friends to make a “Summer Quartet.” Violinist Cathie Lowmiller of the Peninsula Symphony led the group, and added explanations to all the pieces. Another Violinist Hazel Keelan, who performs with various chamber groups including the Redwood Symphony, played first violin interchangeably—and beautifully-- with Cathie. Violist Goetz Leonhard, who plays with Mission Chamber, demonstrated his wonderful skill when he played the solo piece, “Jamie’s Waltz,” written by Cathie Lowmiller.
Thanks to all the quartet members for entertaining our group. Thanks also to Lucille and Billy Lee for opening their home to us.

Cathie Lowmiller (left) and Hazel Keelan (right)
The talented quartet
Billy Lee introducing our guests

A table of Friends
Vice President Winny Lin thanking guests

Friday, August 14, 2015

Recent Guest George Koo to Talk on NPR's All Thing Considered

Dr. George Koo joined us Sunday, August 9 to discuss the recent formation of the Asian Infrastucture Investment Bank. The AIIB was formed for two basic reasons, explained Dr. Koo.
1) The 2008 Financial Crisis sent a shock wave through China, shaking the confidence it had in America’s ability to make the right financial decisions.
2) In order to make a decision the IMF must have 85% agreement. However, as the US has 16.6 percent majority, they can veto any decision. China wanted more say in the World Bank and IMF, but Congress refused.
So, on October 2, 2013, President Xi Jinping raised the idea of creating a new investment bank the purpose of which is to modernize third-rate counries. By the following year 22 prospective nations had signed on. While Obama spent many months in the beginning of this year travelling about and warning people not to get involved, the UK joined in March and by the end of the month all of the major first-world countries had joined except for the US and Japan.
The key aspects of the bank are:
1) There is no outright veto power in day-to-day operations. A decision requires 75% majority. While currently China has 26% voting rights, as they are investing 30% of the initial capital, that percentage can change and is dependent on monetary participation.
2) The Board of Directors will comprise unpaid members who do not reside in the same location as the bank.
3) Bidding of projects is open to non-members.
4) Starting capital is 100 billion dollars.
In addition to the AIIB, China is also working on a BRICS Bank, made up of five countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Each country will contribute $20 billion dollars, and each will have an equal vote. The purpose of both of these organizations is to raise infrastructure. It is estimated that the coming decade will require 7-8 trillion dollars in infrastructure. So these two new banks are a drop in the bucket.
“The advantages for China are several,” said Dr. Koo. “China is not just doling out riches.” They are doing this
1) to make friends among Asian countries
2) to create opportunities for China’s construction and engineering companies
3) to create further regional and global economic integration,
4) and to facilitate the eventual internationalization of the Renminbi.
This last one gave several audience members pause. “What?” asked one man. “Why would we want that?”
Dr. Koo pointed out that while the dollar feels as if it has been around forever, it’s really a recent phenomenon. (The dollar was first created in 1786, and only became the international currency standard after WWII.)
The benefit for the world, Dr. Koo noted would be:
*Fill an investment void. (Currently Asia Development Bank only meets less than 2% of the total investment needs in Asia.)
*Strengthen and facilitate growth in Asia.
“There are no disadvantages to this program,” said Dr. Koo. “There are way too many projects that need financing. In fact, the only disadvantage is psychological. The U.S. doesn’t like the limelight taken from the IMF.” He paused. “But we’re all big boys. We’ll get over it.”
(Dr. Koo will be a guest on this weekend's "All Things Considered"--NPR, Saturday August 15th to discuss the anniversary of the end of WWII. Check your local listings for the correct time for your area.)