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US Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao Speaks at PKU

Peking University, Beijing, December 2, 2008: Elaine Chao, the US Secretary of Labor and the first Asian-American woman in the country’s history to be appointed to the Cabinet, spoke at Peking University on December 2.


Chao shared some thoughts with the students on the US economy and the role of the Department of Labor in strengthening American economy, as well as some observation about American and Chinese culture.


Speaking of the 5th US-China Strategic Economy Dialogue (SED) to be held in December 4, Chao said the Dialogue was established by Chinese President Hu Jintao and former US President George W Bush in 2006, which reflected very important bilateral relationship between the two countries. “In December this year, China will celebrate its 30th anniversary of reform and opening up,” Chao said, “and since then, the relationship between the United States and China has grown and matured.”


On the issue of the current global financial crisis, Chao said the Chinese government is an important partner of the United States in the efforts of the United States to stabilize world financial market and unrestrained credit. “The United States welcomes the recent measures that China has taken to strengthen domestic demand and maintain economic growth.”


With the background as an immigrant to the United States at the age of eight, Chao also shared with the students the story of her family’s struggle in the early years of their migration, when her father had to work three jobs to support the family, when they had little knowledge about the US, its language, people, city, culture and even the foods..


Chao recounted that her father was always busy with endless projects around the house and always enlisted the help of a daughter for the project at hand. And when they were helping in, her father often told the children stories about the Chinese history, Chinese thinking and philosophy. “My parents always make sure that we celebrate all major Chinese holidays,” she said.


Comparing Asian culture and western culture, Chao said Asian culture emphasizes humbleness, self-debasement, and sacrifice, while in western society, individual accomplishment, pioneer spirit and entrepreneurship are much more cherished.


Chao said each country has its own uniqueness in its culture and thinking. That is why people need more interaction and communication between cultures. “And that is why we make a living by sharing mutual experiences so that people in both countries can thrive.”


By Wang Yi