Betty Yuan: One China stand leaves her feel­ing lonely BIO

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By CHANG JUN in San Fran­cisco Junechang@chi­nadai­

Betty Yuan lives in the most pop­u­lous Chi­nese com­mu­nity in the North Amer­ica, but she said she of­ten feels lonely. And the rea­son is her ide­o­log­i­cal dis­agree­ment with fel­low Taiwanese in the Bay Area and Tai­wan.

“I be­lieve the fu­ture of Tai­wan is, and will con­tinue to be, heav­ily re­lied on the Chi­nese main­land, but they don’t agree,” she said.

Be­cause of that dif­fer­ence, “sev­eral of my old friends hate me and ter­mi­nated our many years of re­la­tion­ship,” said Yuan, who moved to the US from Tai­wan with her fam­ily in 1981.

Now Yuan holds po­si­tions in seven com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions, and she is in­volved in­ten­sively into a wide spec­trum of businesses, in­clud­ing ath­letic and cul­tural ex­changes, fundrais­ing for ed­u­ca­tion in ru­ral China, restor­ing the his­tor­i­cal truth about the Ja­panese in­va­sion of China and to the peace­ful uni­fi­ca­tion be­tween Tai­wan and the Chi­nese main­land.

“I work 365 days a year,” said Yuan. In the East Bay city of Fre­mont, she also op­er­ates a bou­tique in­sur­ance agency where she is the pres­i­dent.

Among her com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties, Yuan has fo­cused on Chi­nese for Peace­ful Uni­fi­ca­tion — North­ern Cal­i­for­nia (CPUNC), an NGO mainly com­posed of Chi­nese from Tai­wan, which ad­vo­cates more com­mu­ni­ca­tions and ex­changes across the Tai­wan Straits.

As the three-term pres­i­dent of CPUNC, Yuan said she is an adamant be­liever that there should be only one China.

“No mat­ter whether you like it or not, the ‘Tai­wan In­de­pen­dence’, ‘ One China, One Tai­wan’, or ‘Two Chi­nas’ ad­vo­cacy is ground­less and doomed,” said the 59-year-old his­tory ma­jor who in 1977 grad­u­ated from the Tamkang Univer­sity in Tai­wan.

Against the back­drop of the Feb 18 meet­ing be­tween the Com­mu­nist Part of China Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Xi Jin­ping and Kuom­intang Hon­orary Chair­man Lien Chan in Bei­jing, Yuan ap­plauded the lead­ers’ po­lit­i­cal wis­dom and urged over­seas Chi­nese to join hands to fa­cil­i­tate re­uni­fi­ca­tion.

Her feel­ing to­ward the Chi­nese main­land can be traced back to 1999 when she first time stepped on its soil as she ac­com­pa­nied her fa­ther, paid a pil­grim­age visit to her an­ces­tors in Gaoyou, Jiangsu prov­ince.

“The then-eco­nomic cri­sis plagued the whole of Tai­wan and ev­ery is­lan­der was com­plain­ing about the plunge in liv­ing stan­dards and lament­ing the loss,” Yuan re­called, “the en­vi­ron­ment in gen­eral was de­press­ing.”

But in a sharp con­trast, she said that each rel­a­tive she met in Jiangsu was op­ti­mistic, up­beat and con­fi­dent about the fu­ture of them­selves and the na­tion as a whole. “As an ob­server, I sought rea­sons for the dif­fer­ences, and grad­u­ally was con­vinced that the fu­ture of Tai­wan is at­tached to a vig­or­ous and pros­per­ous Chi­nese main­land,” she said.

In that year, Yuan also met with then-Shang­hai Mayor


• 1955 Born in Tai­wan • 1977 BA in His­tory, Tamkang Univer­sity • 1981 Im­mi­grates to the US • 1999 Vis­ited the Chi­nese Main­land • 2000 Chi­nese for Peace­ful Uni­fi­ca­tion -North­ern Cal­i­for­nia • 2003 CEO of the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia Chi­nese Ath­letic Fed­er­a­tion • Hob­bies Bas­ket­ball, In­spi­ra­tional book, help­ing people Xu Kuangdi, a politi­cian renowned for his eru­di­tion, vi­sion and demo­cratic man­ners. Yuan was in­vited to sit through Xu’s lec­tures on the Tai­wan is­sue and the CrossStraits re­la­tion­ship.

“Amaz­ing charisma, un­be­liev­able depth and width of knowl­edge, I can’t help but ad­mire Xu’s com­po­sure and de­meanor,” said Yuan.

The trip to the main­land was a life-chang­ing and defin­ing event in her life, ac­cord­ing to Yuan, and since then she has be­come a staunch sup­porter of the peace­ful uni­fi­ca­tion of Tai­wan and the Chi­nese main­land.

“I hoped the same type of lead­ers could show up in Tai­wan,” but she said to her dis­may “what we had were Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, the worse and the worst.”

In 2000, Lee Teng-hui’s an­nounced “Tai­wan in­de­pen­dence” caused wide range in­dig­na­tion and protest among the over­seas Chi­nese. Some in San Fran­cisco took the lead and es­tab­lished the Chi­nese for Peace­ful Uni­fi­ca­tion — North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. “From day one, I’m a de­voted mem­ber of this or­ga­ni­za­tion,” said Yuan, adding the One China’ prin­ci­ple is non­nego­tiable.

On Nov 3 last year, CPUNC spon­sored a two-day Amer­ica Sum­mit for China’s Peace­ful Re­uni­fi­ca­tion dur­ing which Yuan mod­er­ated the panel dis­cus­sions and presided over the meet­ing. The con­fer­ence was at­tended by 300, in­clud­ing people from Asia, South Amer­ica, Africa and Aus­tralia, as well as Chi­nese of­fi­cials and schol­ars, all of them ad­vo­cates for the peace­ful re­uni­fi­ca­tion of China.

“I was so touched to see those people could put aside their dif­fer­ences and brain­storm how to con­struct a break­through in the cur­rent Cross-Straits re­la­tion­ship,” said Yuan.

His­tor­i­cal changes have been made in the past five years due to the cen­tral govern­ment’s poli­cies to fur­ther de­velop the Cross-Straits re­la­tion­ship, said Yang Yi, spokesman for the State Coun­cil’s Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice, at the con­fer­ence and he ac­knowl­edged that there are “his­toric sticky prob­lems” still unat­tended, but said he is up­beat about the cur­rent strong mo­men­tum of bi­lat­eral trade and travel across the Tai­wan Straits.

To date, main­land au­thor­i­ties have ap­proved 180 in­vest­ment ap­pli­ca­tions with $1 bil­lion in fund­ing for busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in Tai­wan. Each week, 670 di­rect flights shut­tle back and forth across the Straits. The Free In­de­pen­dent Trav­eler (FIT) pro­gram, which was ini­ti­ated in June 2011 start­ing from Shang­hai, Bei­jing and Xi­a­men, has been ex­panded to 26 cities.

Res­i­dents of these cities are able to ar­range their in­de­pen­dent travel plans to Tai­wan with­out hav­ing to join a tour group. By the end of Au­gust last year, 300,000 Chi­nese main­lan­ders vis­ited Tai­wan through the FIT pro­gram, a 23 per­cent in­crease com­pared to the same pe­riod of 2012, said Yang.

How­ever, progress in po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity talks is slow. For ex­am­ple, there is no con­crete de­vel­op­ment re­gard­ing the vow of set­ting up rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fices in Bei­jing and Taipei with ques­tions about what au­thor­i­ties in the of­fices would have.

“There is still a long, long way to go,” said Yuan. “We should not waste our time and en­ergy but stay the course.”

As the CEO of the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia Chi­nese Ath­letic Fed­er­a­tion, Yuan has been spon­sor­ing an­nual sport­ing car­ni­vals for over­seas Chi­nese through sports and cul­ture. “The uni­ver­sal lan­guage of sports­man­ship unites us all,” said Yuan. Uti­liz­ing re­sources within dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions, Yuan has ar­ranged ath­letic and cul­tural ex­changes among Chi­nese from Tai­wan, Hong Kong and Chi­nese main­land.

She has also led a del­e­ga­tion of Chi­nese-lan­guage teach­ers in the US to visit their coun­ter­parts in China.

“I want to let them sense the ne­ces­sity and im­por­tance why we need to ac­com­mo­date the sim­pli­fied Chi­nese read­ing and writ­ing,” said Yuan. “Other­wise, some of our teach­ers would stick to the tra­di­tional Chi­nese spell­ing, which is much more com­pli­cated than the sim­pli­fied pin yin and ig­nore what was hap­pen­ing out­side of the box.”

“I work 365 days a year,” said Yuan, adding that she al­ways tries to bal­ance her busy life with qual­ity fam­ily time.

She has two sons, and each week she drives to San Fran­cisco to babysit her older son’s 1-year-old son, Cody.

“This is the hap­pi­est mo­ment of my life,” she said.


Betty Yuan checks a sou­venir among many of her col­lec­tions as an ac­tive com­mu­nity leader in her of­fice Tues­day.

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