Friday, May 26, 2017

Taiwanese School: Like Entering Another World

Statistician and activist Nancy Lo was born in southwestern China, but escaped to Taiwan at age six. (see post one.)
Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek moved his capital from China to Taiwan, and more than a million Chinese fled between 1945-49 with him to escape the Communist takeover. Nancy's family was part of that exodus.  I’ve often heard of people fleeing to Taiwan, but I wondered of the mechanics of it. Do you take everything? Where do you stay? Are the locals welcoming? 
Nancy said that a truck ferried all their family's belongings to and from the airfields. And, when they arrived in Taiwan, villages had been set up for the military and their dependents according to rank. A two-bedroom house was waiting for Nancy and her family in  Lo Chung Village, Kangshan, a small town in  Kaohsiung (高雄). It was a Japanese-style house, as Japan had occupied Taiwan for fifty years (1895-1945.) 
Nancy admits that the influx of over a million Nationalists to this island of roughly 5 million created conflict. In fact, there was something called "228," which referred to a riot between the Taiwanese and the incoming Nationalists on February 28 (Thus the name '228'), 1947.  Thousands of people were killed, and today there is a memorial park remembering the chaos. 
228 Peace Park
But, at the time, Nancy knew nothing of this. She didn't arrive in Taiwan until 1949. And even when she did move there, she didn't mingle much with the locals.  She attended Air Force Elementary School with other Air Force children.
“I had such a good memory of the time I was in Taiwan, and it just sometimes makes me tears. The school was not that far. The short-cut to get to school would be to cross the river. Sometimes we walked to school. Other students rode their bike. It was just wonderful.”
It wasn’t until she entered middle school that she encountered local Taiwanese students for the first time. 
"While the incoming Nationalist government promoted Mandarin, some Taiwanese students still spoke dialect." So, it was difficult for Nancy to understand her classmates. Additionally, she was used to being insulated in a middle-class bubble. In her new school, the student who scored highest on the entrance exam was a local girl whose father was a butcher. 
“It was kind of like entering another world.”
(To be continued. Next: Societal Pressure Shapes Life Choices.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Activist Lo's Family Last to Leave for Taiwan

Activist and statistician Dr. Nancy Lo was born in  southwest China in DaDing (大定), Guizhou. The name of the city means “big determination”-- something that Nancy is filled with.  I first met her online—as a mutual friend pointed me to her San Diego group, the Association for Preserving Historical Accuracy in Foreign Invasions in China, (aphafic.org). I had the chance to meet her in person when she invited me to discuss Blossoms and Bayonets at their winter meeting in February.
Nancy was born in 1943, a time when Japan occupied many parts of China, but not Guizhou. “We were not in the front area where Japanese soldiers were. We were in the back. So we were pretty safe.”
Her father Wu Chia Lo worked with China’s Air Force. And, after the war (1945), he transferred to the Air Force Institute of Communications. So, their family of seven moved further northwest to Chengdu,  the capital city of Sichuan province. (Today known as “Panda Central.”) By this point China was engaged in a Civil War: the Nationalists (whom her father worked for) against the Communists.  
“We heard people mention, ‘This place was lost or that place was lost’ to the Communists. By 1949, many people had already moved to Taiwan.”
Nancy’s father didn’t see the need to leave.  His friends were telling him that everything would be okay.  In hindsight, those friends were probably Communist spies. Fortunately, Nancy’s mother insisted, “Let’s go."
“We were almost among the last of the Air Force Institute of Communications to leave for Taiwan.”
(To Be Continued. Next: Taiwanese School: Like Entering Another World)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Change World Needs To See

On May 6th, the weather people predicted rain for the 9th Annual Walk of Remembrance in Pacific Grove. But, as Preservationist Gerry Low-Sabado, Councilmember Ken Cuneo, the good wishes of in-absentia Mayor Bill Kampe, community members, supporters, and descendants of the Chinese village gathered, the sun broke through the clouds--the ultimate metaphor.
For over a decade, Gerry has struggled to get the citizens of Monterey and Pacific Grove to remember their history, which included a Chinese village, which included her great-great grandparents.  She said there was this invisible wall blocking her--and the history of the area--out.
"It's important to rectify things that didn't go so smoothly," Councilmember Cuneo said. "And remember the pioneers of Pacific Grove. We put our arms out and welcome you back to this place you created."
"The 'wall' is gone," Gerry said Saturday through tears of joy. "We are the change that the world needs to see today."
Before the walk, attendees broke into small groups to brainstorm necessary steps to further change with kindness, as a city, as a nation.
The young people (middle school and high school) said it's important to introduce more Chinese culture to students. "We know nothing about the Chinese fishing village. We should learn about the place we live in." 
A point echoed again and again was non-judgmental communication.
"If I listen more than I speak," said one woman. "I can be a bridge."



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Walk of Remembrance

Our March BOTP Interviewee Gerry Low Sabado will lead the Annual Walk of Remembrance at the Pacific Grove Museum (165 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove) this Saturday, May 6, starting at 1pm.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

U.S. China Relationship Needs to Go Beyond Economics

Former NY Times Asia Correspondent and author Howard French spoke in conversation with Dr. George Koo at the Commonwealth Club in March, and discussed his reason for writing Everything Under the Heavens. French was puzzled as to why the countries in Asia (Japan, Korea, China) did not behave like those in Europe (Germany, France, UK), putting the World War behind them and moving on. (See post one.) He discovered China's size made the comparison impossible. China went from a small country made up of 4 provinces to a giant. (See post two.) From the early 19th-20th Centuries, China suffered from colonization: The Century of Humiliation. But they are back on their feet, "eager to be pre-eminent in the world" (French), "eager to be respected as a peer"(Koo.) (See post three.) 


Moderator George Lewinski: "In China, we have a man who says he wants to 'Make China great again.' In America, we have a man who says he wants to 'Make America great again.' What are your thoughts right now on the current Trump Administration?"
Author Howard French: "...I’m still just dumbfounded every time I see him speak. Every day brings—and I don’t say this just because of an ideological opposition to Trump...But the dumbfoundedness comes from something much more essential than ideology: Twitter. The way he comes across on Twitter. 
This is a person who clearly doesn’t have preparation for the job. He doesn’t have a history of consistent positions that are well thought through. He has a kind of infantile picture of things. His world view stopped developing in the 1980s. I could go on and on. And I don’t know where this is going to go for the United States, specifically, or with the larger relationship with China. I have a hard time imagining that this is going to end well. 
Dr. George Koo: "To make America great again, Trump is going to have to work with China. Because where is he going to get the money and the skills to build up the infrastructure that he promised? And we all know the United States badly needs infrastructure rebuilt. 
"China is already doing it: China Construction America (CCA) based in New Jersey bid and won an already established contract to build and refurbish the Alexander Hamilton Bridge...They are all American workers being supervised by CCA.  
"There’s CRRC, which is a rail car building company. They won a contract to re-supply the subway cars in Chicago. They’re building a plant in Chicago to make those cars.
"There’s an auto-glass company investing in Ohio...They will hire 3,000 employees. They will inject 20-30 million dollars every month into the Ohio economy. 
"This is what the Chinese typically call, 'Win-win arrangements.'"
French: "I don’t want to come across as the Prophet of Doom. But...economic integration between countries has very rarely served as a sufficient buffer to prevent war when other serious differences of national interest come to the fore. I can go back as far as Greece, or up to Syria.  Era after era it happens. I don’t mean to say this because the U.S. and China are predestined to have a war. I don’t think any of us want war. But finding a modus vivendi between these two countries is something that goes well beyond economic matters. It goes to kind of dispositions towards international order that’s barely begun to be worked out, and  needs to have a much more frank sustained and mature conversation.
(This concludes highlights of The U.S. and China in 2017. To listen to the full podcast, visit the Commonwealth Club.)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Of Course China Wants a Say

Former NY Times Asia Correspondent and author Howard French, who spoke in conversation with Dr. George Koo at the Commonwealth Club in March, discussed his reason for writing Everything Under the Heavens. He was puzzled as to why the countries in Asia (Japan, Korea, China) did not behave like those in Europe (Germany, France, UK), putting the World War behind them and moving on. (See post one.) French discovered China's size made the comparison impossible. China went from a small country made up of 4 provinces to a giant. (See post two.)
Moderator George Lewinski: "And then something happened to China and its sense of self..."  
Author Harold French: "What you’re talking about is commonly referred to in China as 'The Century of Humiliation.' 

"The middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century when European powers—and in the tail end of the century, also the United States—became involved in a series of imperialist quests around the world. I think it’s easily forgotten by non-specialists the extent of this.  Europe basically conquered and colonized the entire world.  The countries that were not colonized –off the top of my head--I can think of Japan... China was semi-colonized. Protectorates of various kinds were established... This was a great loss to Chinese wealth, to Chinese momentum...China was already –many historians believe—beginning to successfully industrialize when the Europeans showed up in this invasion mode. 
"In recent times, it’s been used as a kind of motif in nationalist education to get young Chinese people in China to adhere to an idea of national rejuvenation or resuscitation...What that all means is that Chinese people should put their shoulders to the wheel and all contribute to this national reconstruction."
Lewinski: "Does it mean China wants to regain its place at the center of Asia?"
French: "...I think if you’re a country of China’s size, if you’re a country of China’s recent economic success, if you’re a country of China’s long history, success in development and innovation and technology and achievement in science, you put those things together and it’s normal...for China to want to be pre-eminent both in its region and in the world."
Dr. George Koo: "...I think Xi Jinping has been expressing that China is not looking to compete as a hegemon and replace the United States in any way whatsoever. China would like to be respected as a peer.. It’s going to be in our national interest –the United States and China—to figure out where to get along. Not figuring out a way to become adversaries. That’s where I think we should be heading."
(To Be Continued. Next: U.S. China Relationship Needs To Go Beyond Economics.)

Friday, April 28, 2017

No Such Thing as Chinese

Former Asia Correspondent and author Howard French, who spoke in conversation with Dr. George Koo at the Commonwealth Club in March, spoke about his reason for writing Everything Under the Heavens. He was puzzled as to why the countries in Asia (Japan, Korea, China) did not behave like those in Europe (Germany, France, UK), putting the World War behind them and moving on. (See post one.
French discovered that, because of its sheer size, China was in a different ballpark.
"First of all, the thing we recognize in any common map as China is a fairly recent thing. China started out a very long time ago as something called Zhongyuan which is essentially four present-day provinces in Central China near the Yellow River...

China --Ancient boundaries represented in dark red

"So, China was across the breadth of its own history waging what we now think of as internal wars.... But there was no such thing as China back then. There was an empire. There were dynasties...There was the Qing dynasty, the Yuan Dynasty, or the Ming Dynasty or the Song Dynasty, etc.etc. For simplicity’s sake, we call that, 'The Chinese.' "
(In fact the first use of the term came about during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) when the Emperors referred to their subjects as "The Chinese.")
"And China got to be the big China that we see on the map today through a very gradual process of conquest and assimilation and migration and various other things... And, it’s not one constant, steady expansion, by the way. There are setbacks. It expands. It contracts. It expands. It contracts. Then it gets locked into place in effect by the international system whereby large states recognize each other’s sovereignty." 
(To Be Continued. Next: Of Course China Wants a Say) 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Why Can't Asian Countries Do Like Europe?

Howard French, Former New York Times Asia Correspondent, and author of the new book Everything Under the Heavens :How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power  spoke at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club in March.
He appeared in conversation with Dr. George Koo, contributor to the online Asia Times, a member of the Committee of 100, and a past Bridge-Over-The-Pacific interviewee
George Lewinski, former foreign editor of Marketplace and a lecturer at U.C. Berkeley, served as moderator.   
Following are some of the highlights:
Dr Koo, Professor French and George Lewinski


George Lewinski: Professor French, in the acknowledgements for the book, you write that the idea came when you were a correspondent in Tokyo in the 1990s, and you were struck by the similarities between the three countries in northeast Asia: Japan, China and Korea. And yet you were kind of puzzled by how they seemed trapped in the kind of loop of recrimination and distrust compared to let’s say the three major powers in Europe: France, Germany and the U.K who seem to have sort of gotten over the centuries of war that they had.  Can you explain that?
Howard French: If you look at the principal countries of northwestern Europe and the principal countries of northeast Asia what you find is a common basis in a lot of really important things: writing, religion, philosophy, legal ideas, etc. that go back a really long ways.
And yet you find something striking happens…. after what is probably the world’s worst war, the Europeans found a way to overcome their past divisiveness and killing, and form a golden union. And the northeast Asians were not able to do that.
Once I got to know China…I came to understand that China is this gigantic country that is completely out of proportion with surrounding societies.  China has the longest record of continuous government and civilization.  These other societies have borrowed much more heavily from China than China borrowed from them. And so this is not a mirror of western Europe at all.
It’s quite a different path.

(To Be Continued: No Such Thing as Chinese.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Immigrants Need to Join Society

Retired NASA Chemist, Winifred Huo, was born in Guangzhou, China two weeks before the start of the Sino-Japanese war.  She recalls the first eight years of her life as looking for a safe place to live, and a place where her father could work. (see post one.) Winifred's highly-educated father was assigned to Guangdong to help build the impossible: the Burma Road. (see post two.) Two years after arriving, the Japanese invaded and the family had to make a quick escape. (see post three.) Thanks to Winifred's mother, despite all the moving about, Winifred excelled at her studies.  And, when she finally landed in Hong Kong for high school, she found her passion in the sciences.(see post four.) When she graduated--while the University of Hong Kong would not accept her because of some British rulings--she got a place at the University of Taiwan. (see post five.) In 1957, her father was offered an exchange post at Purdue University. This coincided with Sputnik--and was a time when America needed scientists--and he was offered a green card, the family was welcome to the U.S. (see post six.) She pursued graduate studies in science at the University of Chicago where she was often the only woman in the class. (post seven.)  Upon graduation, Winifred taught in a number of prestigious universities. (post eight.) In 1978, she found NASA, which turned into a lifelong rewarding career. (see post nine.She had wise words for women, including the thought, "You're as good as any man." (see post ten.)
For young Chinese immigrants, she also had some thoughts.
“In order to—if you want to stay in the United States—then you have to be part of the society instead of a special section."
"It’s really much more comfortable to be with someone that you share the same language and same worries than someone you don’t know as well. But you cannot work successfully if you don’t try to integrate. Try to understand how American society functions.”

(With gratitude to Winifred Huo, this concludes our interview.) 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Losing Gifted Scientists to Social Pressure

Retired NASA Chemist, Winifred Huo, was born in Guangzhou, China two weeks before the start of the Sino-Japanese war.  She recalls the first eight years of her life as looking for a safe place to live, and a place where her father could work. (see post one.) Winifred's highly-educated father was assigned to Guangdong to help build the impossible: the Burma Road. (see post two.) Two years after arriving, the Japanese invaded and the family had to make a quick escape. (see post three.) Thanks to Winifred's mother, despite all the moving about, Winifred excelled at her studies.  And, when she finally landed in Hong Kong for high school, she found her passion in the sciences.(see post four.) When she graduated--while the University of Hong Kong would not accept her because of some British rulings--she got a place at the University of Taiwan. (see post five.) In 1957, her father was offered an exchange post at Purdue University. This coincided with Sputnik--and was a time when America needed scientists--and he was offered a green card, the family was welcome to the U.S. (see post six.) She pursued graduate studies in science at the University of Chicago where she was often the only woman in the class. (post seven.)  Upon graduation, Winifred taught in a number of prestigious universities. (post eight.) In 1978, she found NASA, which turned into a lifelong rewarding career. (see post nine.)
Winifred said it was important for women to remember:
“You are as good as any man."
“There’s a program set up by the former astronaut Sally Ride—after she retired from NASA her focus was to try to understand why girls do not excel in engineering and science and how do you get them interested. I went to one of her seminars."
Astronaut Sally Ride on Sesame Street
"She said she went to schools and talked to kids. All kids love to talk to astronauts. She said before 3rd grade—3rd grade and below—she found boys and girls both asked questions, asked very similar questions. After 3rd grade you see the deviation. 
"First, boys asked more questions. The girls kept quiet. Or they asked less-relevant questions. It was more important for them to be interested in stuff that is considered, ‘womanly.’ 
"I was surprised.
“We lose half the population because of social pressure.  It’s very difficult for a young girl to fight social pressure. The only way to overcome it is to buddy with another girl who is, say, interested in science. You need companionship. You cannot fight it on your own."
(To be continued.  Next and final post: Immigrants Need to Join Society.)

Friday, April 14, 2017

NASA Rewarding Career for Women

Retired NASA Chemist, Winifred Huo, was born in Guangzhou, China two weeks before the start of the Sino-Japanese war.  She recalls the first eight years of her life as looking for a safe place to live, and a place where her father could work. (see post one.) Winifred's highly-educated father was assigned to Guangdong to help build the impossible: the Burma Road. (see post two.) Two years after arriving, the Japanese invaded and the family had to make a quick escape. (see post three.) Thanks to Winifred's mother, despite all the moving about, Winifred excelled at her studies.  And, when she finally landed in Hong Kong for high school, she found her passion in the sciences.(see post four.) When she graduated--while the University of Hong Kong would not accept her because of some British rulings--she got a place at the University of Taiwan. (see post five.) In 1957, her father was offered an exchange post at Purdue University. This coincided with Sputnik--and was a time when America needed scientists--and he was offered a green card, the family was welcome to the U.S. (see post six.) She pursued graduate studies in science at the University of Chicago where she was often the only woman in the class. (post seven.)  Upon graduation, Winifred taught in a number of prestigious universities. (post eight.)
In 1978, Winifred's husband got a job offer from Bank of America in San Francisco. That is when she found NASA. It was a rewarding place to work as a woman. She was there until her retirement in 2006. (Even today she still goes in once or twice a week.)
In 1994 she received the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal.
“It was for the study of Entry Environment, and I worked with an experimental group to study—in the early 80s—to try to study the Shuttle’s protective shield because there was worry about the shuttle design. We tried to devise an experiment to measure the temperature, the pressure and the speed of the shuttle.”
(To be continued. Next: Losing Gifted Scientists to Social Pressure.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

No Place for Women

Retired NASA Chemist, Winifred Huo, was born in Guangzhou, China two weeks before the start of the Sino-Japanese war.  She recalls the first eight years of her life as looking for a safe place to live, and a place where her father could work. (see post one.) Winifred's highly-educated father was assigned to Guangdong to help build the impossible: the Burma Road. (see post two.) Two years after arriving, the Japanese invaded and the family had to make a quick escape. (see post three.) Thanks to Winifred's mother, despite all the moving about, Winifred excelled at her studies.  And, when she finally landed in Hong Kong for high school, she found her passion in the sciences.(see post four.) When she graduated--while the University of Hong Kong would not accept her because of some British rulings--she got a place at the University of Taiwan. (see post five.) In 1957, her father was offered an exchange post at Purdue University. This coincided with Sputnik--and was a time when America needed scientists--and he was offered a green card, the family was welcome to the U.S. (see post six.) She pursued graduate studies in science at the University of Chicago where she was often the only woman in the class. (post seven.) 
Upon graduation, Winifred did a post-doc at Harvard, taught at Rutgers, the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Mellon and University of Notre Dame.  I asked if she ever ran up against discrimination.
She said that she did, adding, “I’m pretty thick-skinned. It didn’t bother me much. But when I moved from Harvard to New Jersey, because my husband was teaching in New Jersey, my professor contacted three places for me. He contacted AT&T, Rutgers, and Princeton. 
"Princeton said, ‘We don’t have a position for females.’ 
"AT&T said, ‘We don’t take women employees in physical sciences.  You could be a secretary, but we don’t take women employees.’ 
"This was between ‘67-‘69.”

She managed to get a research position at Carnegie-Mellon, although she was way beyond the researching phase in her life. 
“My boss was trying to get me into a regular teaching position.  He said he was upset because one of the comments the other faculty made was, ‘She’s doing pretty well, as a woman.’”
(To be continued. Next: NASA Rewarding Career for Women)