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Most significant because EU represents a major portion of global economic activity, second only to the US and because UK is unabashedly and proactively going after opportunities associated with becoming a swap center for Renminbi (along with Hong Kong and Singapore) and bending over backwards to entice Chinese investments into UK.
There was a time when UK was the leading economic power of the world--you know, when the sun never set on the British empire. The pound sterling was at the time the world's reserve currency of choice. That was then.
Since then America has overtaken UK and became a superpower and after the collapse of USSR, the world's only superpower. The dollar has replaced the pound as the reserve currency.
Despite the fact that the financial collapse of 2008 was caused by American greed on Wall Street, the dollar was still considered the safest currency to have and hold. Foreign money piling into the US did its part in keeping the interest rate of US Treasury bills low.
Since that time, however, the US Congress has twice threatened to renege on the national debt which would in effect render the foreign holdings of US Treasury bills worthless. Each time, Congress kept the world watching with abated breath and backed off as the clock was about to strike midnight.
Congress has not offered a permanent fix to the circus revolving around the fiscal budget and debt ceiling but merely kicked the can down the street with yet another deadline looming on December 13. Some wags have suggested that Congress lacked sense of humor and did not select February 2, Ground Hog's Day, for the deadline.
Watching the US fiddle with the prospect of default is no joking matter but the world clearly appreciated that Washington has become one big joke.
As Wall Street Journal, among others, have pointed out, Asian countries in particular are now busy doing their own side deals in bilateral currency swaps to avoid additional dollar exposure. The most prominent next to China has been South Korea. They have been cutting one deal after another with their major trading partners. Their central banker said Korea is following China's lead.
The worldwide trend is obvious to anyone except members of Congress. American exceptionalism is fraying along with the declining desirability of the dollar. When enough countries decide holding on to the dollar is too risky, the American dollar will cease to be the reserve currency of choice.
When China is courageous enough to make the Renminbi freely convertible, the appeal of the dollar could take a quantum dump. When the world ceases to want dollars for their rainy days, the value of the dollar will go kaput. The American taxpayers will rue that day but it will be too late to throw the rascals out of Washington. The damage would be beyond repair.
The mightiest democracy in the world has grounded to a screeching halt by the tyranny of few.
The first notable leader who fought for the civil rights of Chinese in America was Wong Chin Foo. Wong came to the U.S. in 1867 at the age of 20 under the sponsorship of a well meaning American missionary who thought that after being properly educated, Wong would return to China to preach to the vast masses waiting to be converted.
Wong lasted one year at the university at Lewisburg, Pa, predecessor to today's Bucknell University. He didn't finish his studies but went back to China to marry and sired a son. He came back to the U.S. in 1873 alone leaving his family behind and became a U.S. citizen in 1874. For the next quarter of a century he lived in the U.S. and he was to exercise his rights of American citizenship to the max.
In a role reversal, he self appointed himself as China's first missionary to America to extoll values in Buddhism and Confucianism and to counter anti-Chinese prejudices and racial bias at every opportunity. He wrote and spoke tirelessly and was credited with the first to coin the term, Chinese American. He challenged anti-Chinese demagogue, Denis Kearney, to a public debate and he was judged the winner when they finally did meet in a public confrontation.
He said on behalf of the Chinese living in America, "As residents of the United States, we claim a common manhood with all other nationalities, and believe we should have that manhood recognized according to the principles of common humanity and American freedom." Not bad for someone whose English was a second language without the advantage of proper schooling.
The next set of Chinese American leaders as told by Seligman was a group of four that organized a fundraiser for the benefit of victims of pogrom in Kishinev, then a part of Russian empire. The benefit was a play held in the Chinese Theater in Chinatown in May of 1903. There were three performances in order to satisfy the demand. New York Times reported that this must be the first event of this kind ever in the world.
The leaders, all ethnic Chinese, were Joseph Singleton, Guy Maine, Dek Foon and Jue Chue. All four were prominent in the Chinese community, spoke fluent English and well known to the New York society at large. Two of them saw the advantage of adopting Anglicized names and three had Caucasian wives. They were pillars of society and saw their future staked to the American soil.
They have been battling against the Chinese Exclusion Acts and the bias against the Chinese ability to immigrate the America. They have been reaching out to the American society at large and in holding the fundraiser, they were aligning with the Jewish community and indirectly protesting the injustices being suffered by the Chinese in America.
These stories go to show that contrary to the image of docile, well behaved Chinese in America, we always had activists willing to challenge injustices and intolerable status quo. These individuals deserved to be honored and remembered.
I had known Scott as a highly regarded China business consultant, the July 2013 issue of Chinese American Forum reintroduced him to me as a historian wherein he wrote about Chinese fundraiser for the Jews of Kishinev.
A version appeared in New America Media.
It's no small irony that this great democracy of the United States encourages the idea, in principle, of whistle blowers to keep abusive government practices in check, but in reality woe unto those that believe in the protection of the American Constitution when they decide to take on the government.
Anyone wishing to understand the degree of dysfunction that afflict the government of United States needs to read the article on the three wise men of NSA.