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Deng Rihua: Serving China and Seattle's Chinatown

Updated: 2014-02-07 13:23
By Deng Yu in Seattle ( China Daily)

Deng Rihua: Serving China and Seattle's Chinatown

Deng Rihua, the 82-year-old chief editor of the Seattle Chinese Times, calls his paper the "letters from the homeland". Deng Yu / China Daily

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-year-old 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 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.

lindadeng@chinadailyusa.com

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