Immigrant exhibit opens

‘BUILDING AMERICA’::The AIT-hosted exhibition highlights the contributions that Chinese immigrants have made to the US over the decades and the difficulties that they have faced

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Sep 20, 2012 - Page 4

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Christopher Marut yesterday acknowledged the contributions made by Chinese immigrants to the US since the 1850s, saying they “have helped make the US what it is today.”

At the opening ceremony of an exhibition titled “Immigrants Building America,” Marut said he hoped that visitors to the exhibit would “feel a sense of pride in how Chinese immigrants played a critical role in the American success story.”

What the Chinese immigrants have experienced in the US are all “inspiring stories” and they have contributed to the growth of the US, he said.

Chinese immigrants, known as “ethnic Chinese (華裔)” in Mandarin, are defined as people from Taiwan and China who immigrated to the US to help build US society, AIT spokesman Mark Zimmer said.

The AIT is hosting the exhibition in conjunction with the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission and National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to highlight the important contributions Chinese immigrants have made to the US over the decades.

Marut said he apologized if there were some people whom visitors consider important who were left out of the exhibition.

“The truth is, there are so many inspiring stories, we did not have time or space to include them all. And that is the point. These are inspiring stories. People like the ones we talk about in the exhibit and those we didn’t mention who have helped make the United States what it is today,” he said.

The three-week exhibition, which will run until Oct. 10 in the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, gives visitors an overview of the history of Chinese immigration in the US, and shows the hardship the immigrants have endured and the perseverance they have shown.

Like so many other immigrants who came to the US to earn money and send it home, the lives of Chinese immigrants were filled with hard work and many difficulties, but they faced more difficulties than some other immigrant groups, Marut said.

In 1882, the US Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Acts to limit the number of Chinese who were able to come to the US. The law was not repealed until 1943.

When the law was in force, the only Chinese allowed to enter the US were merchants, diplomats, students and tourists, and neither the federal nor any state government could nationalize any Chinese.

On June 18, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution expressing regret for the restrictions that had been imposed on Chinese immigration, Marut said.

“It is only the fourth time in US history that the House has apologized for historical actions. In passing the resolution, the House acknowledged and applauded the important contributions that Chinese-Americans have made — and continue to make — to the success of the United States,” Marut said.

On Thursday next week, Arthur Dong (曾奕田), an Academy Award-nominated US documentary filmmaker whose films focus on topics such as Asian American history and identity, and gay rights, will be in Taipei talking about his documentaries and his life as an immigrant in the US.