Wed, Feb 21, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Jay Chen vows to strenghten Taiwan-US ties if elected

Staff writer, with CNA, LOS ANGELES

When Jay Chen (陳介飛) last month declared his intention to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for the US House of Representatives seat for California’s 39th congressional district, news of his bid attracted a wave of support outside the US.

A Hacienda Heights resident and son of immigrant parents from Taipei and Chiayi, Chen attended his town’s public schools and earned a US Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship to attend Harvard University, from which he graduated with honors.

Although the only Taiwanese-American politicians currently serving in the US Congress are representatives Grace Meng (孟昭文) and Ted Lieu (劉雲平), the lifelong Democrat said he would do his utmost to serve his district, and hopes that his relatives and friends in Taiwan would be proud of him should he receive the nomination.

The 39-year-old, who is fluent in Mandarin, said he was fortunate his parents emphasized the importance of the language, despite his being born and raised in the US.

His family often returns to Taiwan to visit his grandparents, Chen said, adding: “Every time I go back, I usually put on more than 15 pounds [6.8kg] because of the delicious food there.”

Chen, who is hoping to fill the seat to be vacated by US Representative Ed Royce, a Republican, said he believes his background could help strengthen Taiwan-US relations.

Chen in 2012 ran to represent the district, but lost to Royce, who in January announced that he is to retire at the end of his term.

Royce, who last year received the Order of Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in recognition of his long-term support of Taiwan, has been one of the nation’s most loyal and important friends.

“I care deeply about Taiwan,” Chen said, adding that he would help strengthen the voice of Taiwanese-Americans.

If elected, Chen said he would participate in foreign affairs, especially those related to Taiwan.

As an Asian-American, Chen could have an edge in the district, where a third of the population is of Asian descent.

However, as Asian-Americans often have the lowest voter turnout rate of any racial group in the US, he called on eligible voters in the district to show their support in the June 5 Democratic primary.

Chen joins six other Democrats vying for the hotly contested seat.

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