Sue Zhang: Fo­cuses on im­prov­ing ties

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By WANG JUN in Los Angeles wangjun@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Sue Zhang usu­ally does not tell oth­ers that she’s a daugh­ter of Zhang Zhizhong, who was a high-pro­file gen­eral in China and a well-rec­og­nized pa­triot.

How­ever, people find that out through Zhang’s many vol­un­teer ef­forts with Chi­nese or­ga­ni­za­tions in the United States, the fo­cus of which is pro­mot­ing the USChina re­la­tion­ship.

Zhang is the youngest of three daugh­ters, and also has two broth­ers. She was ex­pected to be a boy and was raised like a boy, she said.

“Maybe that’s why I’m ad­ven­tur­ous,” she said, “I learned how to swim when I was 3, horse ride when I was 10. I was a gym­nast on my col­lege team. And, in my 50s, I started to learn to ski and fell in love with it!”

Zhang has been leading sev­eral Chi­nese com­mu­nity groups, in­clud­ing the Ts­inghua Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion in North Amer­ica and the Round­table of Chi­nese Amer­i­can Or­ga­ni­za­tions.

In 2007, Zhang wa s elected chair­woman of the Round­table, work­ing with more than 60 Chi­ne­seAmer­i­can or­ga­ni­za­tions in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia to bring the US and China closer.

Zhang has lived in the US for decades and her home in Cal­i­for­nia is not far from Pasadena, which has been host for the world fa­mous an­nual rose pa­rade for more than 100 years.

But it was not un­til 2007 when the f irst Chi­ne­sethemed

f loat was pa­rade.

“The f irst thing that I worked on was to bring a f loat rep­re­sent­ing China to the pa­rade,” Zhang said. “At the time, Bei­jing was pre­par­ing for the 2008 Olympics It was es­pe­cially mean­ing­ful to show­case our Olympics dream in the rose pa­rade.”

Avery Den­ni­son, a For­tune 500 com­pany whose prod­ucts in­clude pres­sure­sen­si­tive ad­he­sive ma­te­ri­als and spe­cialty med­i­cal prod­ucts, also wanted a Chi­ne­se­float be­cause it has branches in China.

Zhang man­aged to ob­tain au­tho­riza­tion f rom the Bei­jing Olympics Com­mit­tee for the f loat. Avery Den­ni­son agreed to pro­vide $150,000 and Zhang needed to raise an additional $200,000.

“The econ­omy was good in 2007,” Zhang said. “I called up 10 friends and asked each of them to do­nate $20,000. All of them did.”

With the money raised, Zha ng and he r t e am en­coun­tered other prob­lems try­ing to get the float into the pa­rade.

For ex­am­ple: Should the Round­table of Chi­ne­seAmer­i­can Or­ga­ni­za­tions be listed first as a spon­sor or Avery Den­ni­son?

That is­sue was solved by ev­ery­one agree­ing to honor

China’s hold­ing of the Olympics in­stead of the names of f loat spon­sors, she said.

Then the US Olympic Com­mit­tee sought to charge $500,000 for Olympic copy­right roy­alt ies, but that was re­solved. And

in

the some ant i- China forces tried to sab­o­tage the float. Most people thought the f loat would not be­come a re­al­ity, but Zhang per­sisted. “I was never dis­cour­aged,’’ she said. “I be­lieved we would be suc­cess­ful.”

Af­ter nu­mer­ous ne­go­ti­a­tions, on Jan 1, 2008, the China Olympics f loat passed by the rose pa­rade podium. Zhang held hands with her team mem­ber from Avery Den­ni­son and said: “We fi­nally made it!”

But Zhang was not fin­ished with floats. Af­ter the Bei­jing Olympics float, she be­gan pre­par­ing one for the Shang­hai World Expo in 2010. With the sup­port of the Shang­hai Mu­nic­i­pal Govern­ment In­for­ma­tion Of f ice, she in­vited sev­eral Rose Pa­rade com­mit­tee mem­bers to the 2008 Shang­hai Tourism Fes­ti­val pa­rade. Zhang also brought de­sign­ers to Shang­hai to be­come fa­mil­iar with the city’s cus­toms and styles.

“As a re­sult, the de­sign­ers cap­tured the essence of the city of Shang­hai, and it be­came an­other win-win co­op­er­a­tive ef fort from the two ends of the Pa­cific Ocean,” she said.

In 2012 when then- Chi­nese Vice-Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping vis­ited the US, Zhang de­liv­ered a speech rep­re­sent­ing all Chi­nese Amer­i­cans in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia at a party for Xi.

Zhang gave Xi a copy of her book In Mem­ory of My Fa­ther: Gen­eral Zhang Zhizhong, with an in­tro­duc­tion writ­ten by Xi’s fa­ther, Xi Zhongxun.

In May 2002, Zhang in­vited her fa­ther’s old friend, Xi Zhongxun, to write the book’s in­tro­duc­tion. “I re­gret that he didn’t see the book pub­lished be­fore he died in 2007,” she said of her fa­ther.

“Al l over­seas Chi­nese have a com­mon feel­ing: the fur­ther away we’re from our moth­er­land, the closer our heart is to it,” Zhang said about liv­ing in the United States for decades.

While trav­el­ing back and forth be­tween China and the US, she es­tab­lished an ed­u­ca­tional foun­da­tion in her fa­ther’s name to sup­port needy stu­dents from An­hui prov­ince, her fa­ther’s home.

Zhang plans to pro­duce a movie of her fa­ther in 2015, the 70th an­niver­sary of the end of World War II.

“My in­ten­tion is to help more people know about our an­ces­tors’ ef­forts for nat ional in­de­pen­dence, peace­ful re­uni f icat ion, re­ju­ve­na­tion and pros­per­ity of our great na­tion,” she said. “We should toast the great re­ju­ve­na­tion of the Chi­nese na­tion be­cause it em­bod­ies the dream of sev­eral gen­er­a­tions of Chi­nese.”

WANG JUN / CHINA DAILY

Sue Zhang (sec­ond from left) joins a protest with other com­mu­nity lead­ers against “racial dis­crim­i­na­tion” of a TV host about the Chi­nese people.

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