On September 8-10, 2016, the United Chinese Americans (UCA) held the Inaugural Chinese-American Convention, in Washington, DC. The convention began on Friday, September 8 with a reception on Capitol Hill hosted by Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA) and UCA, to welcome hundreds of guests from Asian American communities around the United States, and continued through the weekend with various panels of prominent speakers and breakout discussions surrounding topics in the Asian American community today.
UCA President Xue Haipei said that the purpose of the conference was to explore four proposals: (1) the formation in Congress of the bill "Technology Immigration Act to Help Foreign Students" (STEM Bill); (2) the creation of an organization to provide free counseling for Asian American youth with learning disabilities; (3) a training service to help those who are willing to successfully enlist in Marine Corps recruits; and (4) improving and integrating the core values of Spring Festival, a major event in traditional Chinese culture, to promote greater cultural understanding in America.
According to the event organizers, the convention on Sept. 9 and 10 focused on topics of general concerns in the Chinese community such as Chinese-Americans participating in American public affairs, US-China relations, ethnic Chinese identity, equal rights in education, helping Chinese youth, and justice of law. The speakers and guests in attendance were experts from a variety of different fields, including former US ambassadors to China Gary Faye Locke, J. Stapleton Roy, President of the Committee of 100 Wu Hua Yang, President of the University of Maryland Wallace D. Loh, Director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institute Cheng Li, and Chinese scientists Xiaoxing Xi and Sherry Chen who have been falsely charged for espionage allegations, and many others.
The second day of the conference was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC. Congress members Judy May Chu, Grace Meng and Ted Lieu delivered opening remarks, followed by panel discussions on Chinese American civic engagement, the re-definition of Asian American success, and how Chinese culture and values enrich American life. After lunch, more panels and breakouts continued on the topics of defending civil rights, U.S.-China relations, and Chinese investment in the United States. In the evening, there was an awards dinner, and the screening of the documentary "Finding Samuel Lowe: from Harlem to China."
For the third day of the conference, more important topics were addressed in seminars. One was about affirmative action and its effects on Chinese Americans, and the other two focused on connecting with Chinese American teenagers and how to define Chinese American identity. The final sessions focused on organizing Chinese American communities and hearing from leaders in politics and individual communities about how they found success. The last major event of the conference was signing the Washington Manifesto, a document with the goal of uniting the Chinese American community, and forging ahead the spirit of UCA programs.
Ameson’s Executive Director Stephen Smith and Deputy Director Zhu Xiao Di were invited to attend the UCA welcome reception on Capitol Hill on Thursday, September 8. Mr. Smith praised the UCA inaugural conference, and stated that it is important to unite the Chinese American community in order to make Chinese American affairs a more mainstream topic in society. He was happy to participate in a large-scale event uniting the American Chinese community. The Ameson Foundation very much agrees with the goals of the UCA to unify and develop organizations of the Chinese American community across the United States. The inaugural UCA conference was the perfect way to bring people together to discuss the most pressing issues for the Chinese American community. Mr. Zhu Xiao Di also said that both APAPA and UCA work toward having more civic engagement from Asian Americans and particularly Chinese Americans, and this goes along well with Ameson Foundation’s mission to promote U.S.-Sino relations and U.S.-Sino cultural and educational exchanges.