From China with Love

  

Consul General Peng Keyu was at a small fundraising reception (about 50 people or so, mostly Chinese in finances) last week at Harvard Club, with a pledged donation of US$55k for the quake victims. He took the floor after the featured speaker. Couple of minutes in to his opening notes, he ditched English in favor of Mandarin.  First he assured us that every single penny they received are recorded and will put to use to aid the victims and followed by an over view of the situation in Sichuan, stressed the shortage of tents. .. .. then he talked about the China in the media.

” .. .. like the toothpaste .. it was herbs to us for thousand of years but toxic to them.. ” 中药 .. 毒药 ..
He doesn’t look as sleek and dynamite as the audience, but I supposed he looks like a Chinese official and acts like one. A very successful one: being the Consul General of New York (2007-) and San Francisco (2004-7), he’ll probably take up the ambassadorship in a major European country or even in DC. I found him to be very cautious and neutral.

The very first time I visited the consulate in New York was back in 1989 when I wanted to have a Chinese passport. I waited in line for my turn at the window. A young man was giving detailed info to a blond with very sunny warm demeanor. I thought to myself, good lord they’re friendly here. Then when it was my turn, the sunny smile turned to cold snarl, “what do you need!?” I could hear my heart dropped a hundred feet, broken into thousand pieces. What’s wrong with him or it’s me? I found that rather typical. Anyway, time has changed. They souped up the consulate, although I think the building still houses the staff. The services are much improved now.

Seeing the donation/coverage/response of this quake to 1976‘s, there isn’t a comparison. It was particular pungent when Peng pleaded for tents: we lived on the streets without any tents in 1976. I have any qualm about it, but truly happy to see the progress China’s been making. It’s only 30 years or so.

We chatted briefly afterward (he apparently does his homework), and I asked about the handling of the flag episode back in February at our school. He’s no committal but took my business card. Very surprise to me – and impressed – a lady from the education at the consulate called this morning. We shall see.

The night ended with $88,000.
 

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