Former U.S. Ambassador Curtis S. Chin says New Year offers opportunity for APIs

By Staff
Northwest Asian Weekly

Curtis Chin

Despite the downturned economy, opportunities are thriving for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (APIs) that want to be involved in business, government, and community and other non-governmental organizations, as the Year of the Dragon unfolds.

Indeed, with 2012 being a U.S. presidential election year, greater participation and involvement are more important than ever.

That was the simple, straightforward message of former U.S. Ambassador Curtis S. Chin when he stopped by the Northwest Asian Weekly offices during a New Year’s visit to his Washington roots.

“Whether exports of airplanes and apples, to growing markets across the Pacific, high-tech innovations or new business models, the state of Washington in particular continues to show the way forward by looking outward and forward,” Chin said. “Yet, even as we embrace international trade and investment, this does not mean that we cannot at the same time do more here at home to build businesses and create jobs.

“We need to come together to better address the near-term challenges facing the API and communities right here at home. We, however, also have to believe in ourselves — believe that we can each make a difference,” Chin said.

Chin served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama as the 15th U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), a Manila-based international financial institution focused on poverty reduction and economic growth. He was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as U.S. executive director with the rank of ambassador in early 2007. The United States and Japan are the largest shareholders in the ADB.

As a member of the ADB board of directors, Chin reviewed and approved some $12 billion annually in a range of investments in Asia, including clean energy, water, and transport infrastructure. At the same time, he spoke regularly on the importance of addressing the needs of the poorest and least developed. He kept an eye out for opportunities for U.S. businesses to participate in ADB-financed projects and programs.

After stepping down as ambassador at the end of 2010, Chin joined the board of CFSI Community and Family Services International, an Asia-based humanitarian organization that is involved in assisting refugees and displaced persons in the Asia and Pacific region. Major CFSI-supported efforts are now underway in Vietnam and in the Philippines following the devastating floods that recently hit the country.

With U.S. Senate confirmation, Chin became only the fourth U.S. ambassador of Chinese ancestry. With his great-grandfather having settled in the Yakima area early in the last century, Chin is perhaps the first Chinese American ambassador with long-time Washington roots, preceding the confirmation of former Governor Gary Locke as U.S. ambassador to China.

“We also are very much a Boeing family, with three generations having worked at Boeing, beginning with my grandfather who worked as a draftsman and continuing on to cousins today in everything from engineering to communications,” added Chin.

By coincidence, Chin was succeeded as U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank by a former CEO of Boeing Japan.

Chin joins U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, former U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank Linda Tsao Yang, former U.S. Ambassador to Micronesia Marge Fong Eu, and former U.S. Ambassador to Nepal Julia Chang Block, together recognized as our first five U.S. ambassadors of Chinese ancestry.

“Yet one certainly does not have to be an ambassador or sit in a board room to make a difference in people’s lives,” Chin added. “Every day, teachers, nurses, athletes, soldiers, journalists, businesspeople, and many others from all walks of life of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage are making a difference here in the Pacific Northwest and around the country. Let’s honor, cherish, and build on that in this year ahead.” (end)

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