Step­ping up to chal­lenges as they come

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By WANG JUN in Los Angeles wangjun@chi­nadai­

Charles Lu ar­rived early at the an­nual con­fer­ence of the Round­table of Chi­nese Amer­i­can Or­ga­ni­za­tions (RCAO) with other vol­un­teers to move ta­bles and chairs, set up the stage and get ev­ery­thing ready.

At the con­fer­ence held in Bald­win Park on March 1, Lu was re­elected chair­man of the RCAO, which counts 108 Chi­nese com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia as its mem­bers.

He took it as recog­ni­tion of his hard work and com­mu­nity-fo­cused mind. “I’m from an aver­age fam­ily,” Lu said. “I don’t have a sparkling prom­i­nent back­ground.”

Lu was born in Shang­hai in the early ’60s. He didn’t re­ceive a reg­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion as his gen­er­a­tion grew up dur­ing the “cul­tural revo­lu­tion”(1966-76). To win the op­por­tu­nity for a higher ed­u­ca­tion, he worked hard get­ting him­self pre­pared — ris­ing be­fore 6 am and work­ing un­til mid­night ev­ery day. In 1980, he was ad­mit­ted to Nan­jing Aero­nau­tics and As­tro­nau­tics Univer­sity, where he ma­jored in aero­nau­tics radar. He grad­u­ated in 1984.

“I chose to learn what­ever was most needed in China,” he said.

Work­ing as an en­gi­neer for five years out of school at the Shang­hai Air­craft and Re­search In­sti­tute, Lu was sent in 1989 to work in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia on a project with the McDon­nell Dou­glas aero­space com­pany.

Two years later, he en­rolled as a grad­u­ate stu­dent at Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity in Fuller­ton. And then he started his own in­sur­ance com­pany in 1994, one of the very first owned by some­one from the Chi­nese main­land.

Lu joined the Shang­hai As­so­ci­a­tion of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia in 1999, and worked his way up to chair the RCAO, which was es­tab­lished in 2004 to achieve greater unity among the Chi­nese Amer­i­can com­mu­nity in the re­gion.

“My de­but on the big stage was the 2009 Chi­nese Na­tional Day cel­e­bra­tion,” he re­called. The cel­e­bra­tion — rais­ing the Chi­nese flag — had hun­dreds of par­tic­i­pants in pre­vi­ous years, ac­cord­ing to Lu. 6,000 showed up.

Lu ar­ranged for a small air­plane to fly over the gath­er­ing trail­ing a ban­ner that read “Happy Birth­day China!” When the flag was raised to the top of the pole, thou­sands of doves of peace

But in 2009, about were set free.

“Many people were so touched by the cer­e­mony that they had tears in their eyes,” Lu said.

Lu doesn’t just or­ga­nize happy gath­er­ings; a lot of times they are se­ri­ous af­fairs. When ABC tele­vi­sion’s Jimmy Kim­mel of­fended the Chi­nese com­mu­nity on his show, Lu, with other com­mu­nity lead­ers, or­ga­nized a protest in front of ABC head­quar­ters in Bur­bank.

“It was a tough job,” Lu said. “The event co­or­di­na­tor backed out be­cause of the huge num­ber of people that showed up for the protest. I had to step up. It was not an easy job to make sure the mes­sage was cor­rectly de­liv­ered and at the same time, make sure things were kept un­der con­trol — you don’t want a protest to go wild.”

South­ern Cal­i­for­nia is an im­por­tant cen­ter for the US-China re­la­tion­ship. Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping paid vis­its there in 2012 and 2013. Lu or­ga­nized a Chi­nese com­mu­nity wel­come party for then Vice-Pres­i­dent Xi’s first visit to Los Angeles.

As over­seas coun­cil mem­ber of China’s Over­seas Chi­nese Af­fairs Of­fice of the State Coun­cil and All-China Fed­er­a­tion of Re­turned Over­seas Chi­nese com­mit­tee mem­ber, Lu will lead a team of Chi­nese-Amer­i­can busi­ness lead­ers to the China (Shang­hai) Pi­lot Free Trade Zone next month, with the goal of gen­er­at­ing more back-and­forth busi­ness.

“An­other big thing of this year is the 65th Chi­nese Na­tional Day cel­e­bra­tion,” Lu said. “We’ll have 10 cel­e­bra­tion events, in­clud­ing a show called Ode to the Moth­er­land from Shang­hai.”


Charles Lu in protest against ABC show.

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