Deng Ri­hua: Serv­ing China and Seat­tle’s Chi­na­town BIO

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By DENG YU in Seat­tle lin­dadeng@chi­nadai­

On the wall over Deng Ri­hua’s of­fice desk in Seat­tle’s Chi­na­town is a beau­ti­ful Chi­nese cal­lig­ra­phy scroll, “Sang Zi Qing Shen”, which in tra­di­tional Chi­nese script re­lates the deep feel­ings Chi­nese peo­ple over­seas have for their home­land.

“We still have our bear­ings in the moth­er­land. When the moth­er­land is stronger, we will have a firmer foot­ing where we live,” said Deng, the 82-yearold chief ed­i­tor of the weekly Seat­tle Chi­nese Times. “In the past few decades, China has ex­panded on their for­eign pol­icy. That has helped lift the sta­tus of over­seas Chi­nese.”

Deng still re­mem­bers when he was one of more than 1,000 Chi­nese-Amer­i­cans who par­tic­i­pated in the wel­com­ing cer­e­mony when Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao ar­rived in Seat­tle in 2006.

A lion dance greeted Hu at the air­port when he ar­rived. The tops of build­ings in the old Chi­nese dis­trict of Seat­tle were adorned with large Chi­nese flags, while down in a build­ing base­ment one of the old­est over­seas Chi­nese groups, the Su Yuan As­so­ci­a­tion, was busy putting fi­nal touches on wel­come signs and ban­ners.

“Emo­tions were run­ning high, as the US had never re­ceived a state leader against the back­drop of a strong China,” he re­called. “I was also one of the lead­ers of the 37 par­tic­i­pat­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions to meet the pres­i­dent.

“Feel­ings of pride in be­ing Chi­nese have never been stronger in Seat­tle’s Chi­na­town.”

Deng’s true love for China and the Chi­nese com­mu­nity in Seat­tle is the rea­son for his 27 years of ser­vice to both, es­pe­cially in at­tract­ing over­seas in­vest­ments to his home­town prov­ince of Guang­dong.

Deng was born in 1934 in the vil­lage of Yunfu in Guang­dong. Dur­ing most of his early life he ex­pe­ri­enced wars, wan­dered from place to place and en­dured many hard­ships, but he never thought of leav­ing China.

At the same time, he grad­u­ally started to write about masses of his coun­try­men liv­ing in dire straits, as well as their pas­sion for their coun­try and about their daily lives. “From the year of 1952, my life­long writ­ing ca­reer be­gan. I en­joy ob­serv­ing the changes about my home­town and fel­low coun­try­men,” he said.

In his most pro­duc­tive year, Deng had more than 100 ar­ti­cles pub­lished by news me­dia and mag­a­zines.

He did not stop writ­ing af­ter he and his fam­ily mi­grated to the US for a fam­ily re­union in 1987.

In Amer­ica, Deng be­came a jour­nal­ist for Chi­nese news­pa­pers in­clud­ing the Sing­tao World Jour­nal. He also worked as an ed­i­tor and writer for lo­cal Seat­tle Chi­nese news­pa­pers such as the Seat­tle News and the Chi­nese Busi­ness Times.

“With the wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence with me­dia friends work­ing


•1934 Born in Yufu , Guang­dong prov­ince •1987 Mi­grated to the United States for a fam­ily re­union •2004 Founded bilin­gual weekly news­pa­per Seat­tle Chi­nese Times and be­came the chief ed­i­tor for the me­dia in China, my con­tent of sto­ries was not re­stricted to the Chi­nese com­mu­nity in the United States, but the changes and de­vel­op­ment of the mi­grant Chi­nese Amer­i­can’s home­towns in China”.

“Then I thought why not have our own Chi­nese news­pa­per for our com­mu­nity? In the year 2000, to­gether with six of my best friends we be­gan the prepa­ra­tion work,” he said. In May 2004, to­gether with those friends Deng founded the bilin­gual weekly news­pa­per, the Seat­tle Chi­nese Times, and be­came chief ed­i­tor.

Since then, the news­pa­per has be­come the “let­ters from home­land” to the lo­cal Chi­nese Amer­i­can au­di­ence.

In the past 20 years, apart from writ­ing thou­sands of ar­ti­cles on re­cent de­vel­op­ments about more than 20 cities in Guang­dong prov­ince, Deng also has edited and pub­lished thou­sands of sto­ries that told of busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties and poli­cies in prov­inces and cities such as Sichuan, Hainan, Zhejiang, Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Qing­dao fol­low­ing China’s re­form and open­ing.

On Deng’s book­shelf, piles of mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers from China al­most block the win­dow light. “Sto­ries and re­ports from al­ter­na­tive presses in China help keep me posted on the most re­cent de­vel­op­ments in China,” he said.

Deng also seeks to bring the Chi­nese com­mu­nity closer to­gether. “It not only means the com­mu­nity within the in­ter­na­tional dis­trict but all the Chi­nese Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties in Seat­tle,’’ he said.

Deng’s lengthy list of ti­tles show­cases the ac­tive role he has played in Seat­tle’s Chi­nese com­mu­nity, where most of his work has been vol­un­tary and done in his spare time. He is the pres­i­dent of the US-China Eco­nomic & Cul­tural De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, vice-chair­man of Wash­ing­ton State China Coun­cil for the Pro­mo­tion of Peace­ful Na­tional Re­uni­fi­ca­tion; and hon­orary chair­man for many Chi­nese Over­seas Friend­ship as­so­ci­a­tions such as the Shan­tou Chi­nese Over­seas Friend­ship As­so­ci­a­tion and the He­shan Chi­nese Over­seas Friend­ship As­so­ci­a­tion.

Deng also has trav­eled to China at least twice a year for the past 27 years. He went not only to pay trib­ute to an­ces­tors and to visit friends and old neigh­bors, but to lead lo­cal Chi­nese as­so­ci­a­tions and busi­ness groups to pro­mote cul­tural ex­changes and at­tract in­vest­ment to de­velop his home­town.

Last year, Deng led a del­e­ga­tion of more than 80 peo­ple from 11 Chi­nese com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions and as­so­ci­a­tions to China for cul­tural ex­changes. He told China Daily he ex­pects to go to Yunfu in Guang­dong to cel­e­brate the 20th an­niver­sary of his city’s found­ing.


Deng Ri­hua, the 82-year-old chief ed­i­tor of the Seat­tle Chi­nese Times, calls his pa­per the “let­ters from the home­land”.

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