An enthusiastic audience of teachers, students and other professionals gathered together recently at Beijing University to honor the Chao family’s long history of accomplishments in business, philanthropy and as role-models for Asian Americans — and to inaugurate the family into the Chinese Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame. The Chao family was represented by Dr. James S.C. Chao, Chairman and founder of the Foremost Group, one of the most reputable international shipping companies in the world, and patriarch of the Chao family. Dr. Chao was accompanied by two of his daughters, former US Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and Deputy Chairman of the Foremost Group, Angela Chao.

Angela Chao

Angela Chao

The evening began with a warm expression of appreciation by Dr. Chao, who noted that he himself did not have the opportunities available to the Beijing University students today. His decades of service to international trade and diplomacy through his shipping company, and the pathways that he and his late wife opened for future generations of Chinese-Americans, was a core element of the Hall of Fame tribute.

The night’s opening speech was given by Secretary Elaine Chao. In her remarks, she attempted to convey to the audience, and particularly the young students, the ease with which one can become successful in America. She noted that she was not born in America, arriving when she was eight years old but, strengthened by her parents and with the richness of the two cultures, she was able to be successful on many levels, including becoming the first Asian American Secretary of Labor.

Secretary Chao’s sister, Angela Chao, continued on the theme of succeeding in the US as a person of Asian heritage. She told the audience that even though she was born in the America, she grew up in a family deeply rooted in traditional Chinese culture. She said that her parents encouraged their daughters to integrate the two cultures, adding that this task is ongoing. Angela Chao spoke about her parents’ lifelong work to bridge the gap between China and the United States, and asked the students in attendance to continue this work.