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Museum Promotes Cultural Bonds between Chinese and Americans

Working abroad for many years, Philip Qiu, the founder of the Chinese American Museum in Washington, has a sentimental attachment to Chinese culture.

Six years ago, Qiu, a real-estate developer based in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Los Angeles, came up with the idea of a cultural nonprofit organization, which evolved into a museum focusing on Chinese in America and their culture, contributions and potential as an important part of the America’s social fabric.

Housed in a five-story, 1907 Beaux Arts-style mansion in downtown DC, just five blocks north of the White House, the museum is the first and only destination in the Washington area dedicated to the Chinese-American story.

Qiu said that the museum was founded for the purpose of promoting Chinese culture. “By organizing cultural activities and exhibitions, we present profound Chinese culture to visitors,” he said.

For more than 200 years, Chinese people in America have made great sacrifices, overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges and served a critical role in the success of America. From hardship and perseverance to ingenuity and leadership, the Chinese-American experience is a story about American resilience and fortitude.

Today, Chinese Americans, ranging from the most recent citizens to fifth-generation families, represent a spectrum of professions, industries, arts and culture, government, and military service.

No story is the same. Each is part of a rich history of tragedy and triumph that features the accomplishments of both prominent and lesser-known Chinese Americans — from everyday citizens to titans of industry.

Working and living in the US and Canada for many years, Qiu observed that most Chinese Americans are not active in social activities because they spend a majority of their time working or dealing with everyday life, so it’s not easy for them to be part of mainstream society in America.

What’s more, in the case of some fourth or fifth-generation Chinese Americans who have deep interactions with mainstream society in America, they know little about Chinese culture, he said.

With these people in mind, Qiu made it a mission for his museum to advance the understanding, knowledge and appreciation of the Chinese-American experience.

Since it opened to the public in 2018, the museum has hosted an array of cultural activities and attracted millions of visitors.

He said that as one of the most ancient civilizations in the world, the time-honored Chinese culture deserves more attention.

“Since ancient times, the hardworking, humble, honest and generous Chinese people have been loving peace and promoting friendship. Culture knows no border or race, and humanities live in a global village. Chinese culture is a part of the human civilization that should be valued.”

Many celebrities and senior professors in the US have expressed their interest in the museum. Some political and business leaders, who are keen on Chinese culture, also offered to provide support for the activities it organized.

It seems to Qiu that running the museum to enable more American people, Chinese Americans and even people from around the world to learn about the colorful and fine Chinese culture is something that he loves best.

“In the past six years, my team worked hard. Our directors of board, including Neil Chen, Elbert Michael Ussery and Jenny Liu, have been devoted to the museum development. Their efforts have paid off,” Qiu said.

“The museum has won acclaim from American mainstream society. A number of former US diplomats and influential business executives have joined our board of directors or honorary board of directors.”

Former US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao (second right) and representatives from various organizations pose for a group photo during an exhibition at the museum. [Photo provided to China Daily]

“The Chinese Embassy of the United States also spoke highly of our efforts in promoting the Chinese culture,” he added.

Despite the many challenges of today’s world — such as the pandemic and moments of social upheaval — Qiu’s team and its growing community of supporters have managed to make great progress in developing the museum.

As a visionary businessman, Qiu sees museums not just as a place for objects and artifacts. “They can also be centers of knowledge exchange and social connection,” he said.

“In addition to presenting Chinese culture, we also plan to organize young American people to visit China from this year, so that they will have an opportunity to understand Chinese culture through personal experience,” Qiu said.

It is Qiu’s firm belief that humanities are a big family and all cultures deserve to be respected.

“If possible, we want to bring traditional American culture to China in the future through the platform of the museum.

“By promoting cultural exchanges, we hope to strengthen the people-to-people bond between China and the United States and enhance the nations’ friendship,” he said.

Source : China Daily