History of the Center

“Thirty Years of the Chinese Culture Foundation and Twenty-Two Years of the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco”
by Him Mark Lai

The Chinese Culture Foundation (CCF) of San Francisco is one of the earliest
Chinese community cultural organizations founded in the United States in the post-
World War II era. Its founders included both Chinese Americans and non-Chinese
Americans. The organization operates the Chinese Culture Center (CCC) and offers
programming to promote Chinese and Chinese American culture, serving the Chinese
community as well as members of the larger society. This essay traces the evolution of
CCF and CCC and how this development was influenced and shaped by changes in
American society, particularly in the Chinese American community.

The Social Milieu
During World War II Congress repealed the Chinese Exclusion Acts in 1943 and
granted naturalization rights to Chinese aliens in this country. Thus Chinese Americans
emerged from the War with optimistic prospects of improved status in American society.
Slowly this was realized in the succeeding decades. The relaxation in immigration
restrictions allowing a growth in the number of families also signaled the passing of the
bachelor society.

During the exclusion period from 1882 to 1943, the oppressive atmosphere
faced by Chinese in this country had fostered alienation among them toward America,
and had encouraged the continued maintenance of strong sentimental ties to the
ancestral land. Changes in the postwar decades, however, such as the opening of
more opportunities to 9hinese Americans and tense relations between the U.S. and
mainland Chinese government, weakened their links to China and encouraged them to
identify with this country. Moreover, America’s economic prosperity during the post-war
decades fostered the rapid growth of a western oriented Chinese American middle
class that often was more fluent in English than in Chinese. This middle class
comprising of businesspersons, professionals, and technical personnel with interests
firmly rooted in this country had begun to forge numerous economic, political, and
social ties to mainstream America. As part of this development there was a strong
desire among these Chinese Americans to be equal partners in American society.
Within their own community a heightened sense of ethnic awareness and kindred
feelings of community expressed their group solidarity to attain the common goal.

As this new middle class grew in number, it sought to play leading roles in
pushing for change and modernization of the Chinese community. Using the links they
had been developing with mainstream politicians, members of the new middle class
including Lim P. Lee, H. K. Wong, Paul Louie as well as some leaders of the Chinese
American Citizens’ Alliance promoted and supported projects to improve the quality of
life in the Chinese community. For example, on October 24, 1951, San Francisco
Chinatown saw the dedication of its first public housing project, East Ping Yuen,
followed two weeks later by the opening of the Chinese Recreation Center. Most often
the undertakings furthered and facilitated the development of Chinatown businesses.
Thus in 1953 Chinese American merchants initiated the first Chinese New Year
Festival, changing a traditional festival into a tourist attraction complete with parades,
exhibitions, and later, queen competitions, more familiarly known as “beauty contests.”
By 1962 a public garage underneath Portsmouth Square opened to facilitate parking for
Chinatown visitors. This middle class was eager and desirous of changing the
community to better advance their class interests. However, their relatively small
numbers and weak economic base in the Chinese community, as well as their limited
influence in mainstream American politics, inhibited their effectiveness to push for
changes in the heavily immigrant-dominated Chinatown community. Also, due to
interlocking economic ties and working relations some of the new middle class had -
developed with the Chinatown elite over a period of time, self interest prevailed over
the desire to challenge the status quo.

Since the mid-nineteenth century, the immigrant-dominated district associations,
family associations, and secret societies had provided the leadership in a Chinatown
bachelor society which was comprised largely of laborers socially isolated from
mainstream America. During the twentieth century, especially during and after World
War II, the increasing number of families, the higher level of education, as well as the
increasing participation of Chinese Americans in mainstream American society all
worked to whittle down the influence of the traditional organizations and undermined
their ability to effectively exercise leadership in the community. Although the reins of
power in most organizations were still held by Chinatown’s traditional elite comprised of
prominent merchants and heads of secret societies, members of the new Chinese
American middle class were beginning to enter decision making circles in some
organizations. However, international events soon played a role in slowing this
development and instead placed control of many organizations firmly in the hands of a
small circle of politically partisan leaders.

The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the Western nations had begun in
the late 1940s. China became involved when the Communists defeated the Chinese
Nationalists (Kuomintang) government in a civil war. The victors led the founding of the
People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 and aligned that nation with the Soviet
Union’s socialist camp. In the meantime, remnants of the defeated Nationalist regime
took refuge on the island of Taiwan. Before the dust even had a chance to settle in this
conflict, fighting broke out between neighboring North and South Korea in mid-1950. By
the end of that year the fledgling People’s Republic had also joined the fray when it
went to the aid of its North Korean ally and confronted the armed might of the United
States and its allies supporting South Korea. Meanwhile, the Cold War had
engendered the growth of an anti-Communist hysteria in this country that resulted in
political witch hunts dedicated to rooting out alleged Communist sympathizers. The
federal government’s investigation into Chinese immigration fraud in the 1950s further
abetted this pervasive atmosphere of fear in the Chinese community and led many
Chinese to become politically circumspect. This era was soon followed by US
participation in the Vietnam War during which the PRC was again supporting the other

This situation was favorable for the hard-pressed Nationalist (Kuomintang)
regime on Taiwan. It was allowed to mobilize the party network in America to take
measures to cull the support of the Chinese in America. Gaining control of the
traditional associations was not difficult for by this time small oligarchies were
controlling most organizations. A number of these active members were already
Kuomintang members or were sympathizers. Kuomintang members also became active
in other associations and entered decision-making circles. Thus by the 1950s, the
Kuomintang was increasingly able to control and use the traditional organizations led
by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA; also known as the
Chinese Six Companies in San Francisco) to maintain political dominance in the
community. They imposed a rigid one-sided exclusionary political orthodoxy on the
Chinatown media, the Chinese schools, as well as on cultural activities and public
opinion. The politically-correct view they advocated was that Republic of China on
Taiwan was the sole legitimate government of all of China and that the influence of the
PRC “Communist bandits” should be banished from Chinatown. They systematically
excluded from organization decision making positions all individuals suspected of being
unfriendly to Taiwan or advocating better relations with the PRC.

In the meantime, a continuous influx of Chinese refugees and immigrants from
Hong Kong had greatly aggravated the severity of Chinatown’s social and economic
problems in employment, housing, and crime by the 1960s. However, the CCBA
demonstrated little interest in understanding and dealing with these complex social
issues. As the situation worsened in Chinatown, critical articles on the community’s
problems began to appear in the metropolitan dailies. (1) The Chinese Six Companies,
speaking for these organizations as a group, persistently denied the existence of any
serious social and economic ills, all the while insisting that the Chinese community
could take care of its own. (2)

By this time Chinese Americans growing up in the post-war era were emerging in
society. Even more so than their parents, they possessed an intense desire to be equal
partners in American society and were beginning to play active roles in mainstream
politics. Although their primary interest was not Chinese politics, many nevertheless
took a pragmatic view favoring normalization of US diplomatic relations with the PRC.
The increased ethnic consciousness and concern for the community that became part
of this development spurred many young activists with the desire to play roles in
shaping Chinatown’s destiny. Taking their cue from the civil rights movement in the
U.S. that had made gains when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, these
Chinese Americans became involved in social programs in the community. They
became a progressive activist faction of the new middle class in contrast to the older
more conservative group. These activists began vying with the conservatives for the
leadership role among the new middle class. Like David facing Goliath, or more
fittingly, like new-born calves who were unafraid of facing tigers, the activists also
challenged the CCBA and began attacking the latter’s inaction in the face of social
problems and its failure to provide constructive leadership in the community. CCBA
reacted by branding them as “a few unworthy Chinese” who teamed up with “some
Caucasian agitators” to stir up Chinatown’s social problems. (3) In line with CCBA’s pro-
Taiwan political position it also regarded the activists as pro-Communists since they
favored better US relations with the PRC. (4)

It was these interactions in the Chinese community in the 1960s and 1970s that
became important factors in shaping the course of development of the Chinese Culture
Foundation and the Chinese Culture Center. This may be considered as occurring in
three principal stages: 1. Planning a Chinese Culture Center; 2. Opening and maturation of the facility; 3. Strengthening the Center’s ties with the Chinese community.

Planning a Chinese Culture Center: J. K. Choy and the SFGCCSA
Beginning in the early 1960s the civil rights movement led by African Americans
had promoted increased ethnic awareness among non-white minorities. There was
demand for the recognition of the histories and customs of other ethnic communities.
The validity of diverse ethnic identities analogous to ingredients in a “salad bowl” was
beginning to replace the traditional notion of America as a “melting pot” where different
cultures merge together into one homogeneous mass. In the pursuit of cultural equity
and the belief that the arts and culture should not be divorced from the community,
cultural centers began to appear in ethnic communities to give expression to the ethnic
identity of its members.

In San Francisco Chinatown members of the new Chinese American middle
class founded the Chinese Historical Society of America in 1963. This was the first
organized attempt in the community to research and promote the history of the Chinese
in America. Shortly afterward there came a push to establish a more inclusive Chinese
cultural organization that would appeal to a wider range of people.

It was members of the new Chinese American middle class in San Francisco that
took the lead in establishing such an institution. A leading figure guiding the early
efforts was Jun Ke Choy, commonly known as J. K. Choy. (5) Choy was a Hawaii-born
Chinese who had served the Chinese government for almost three decades. His most
notable accomplishment was the reorganizing of the government-owned China
Merchants Steamship Company, of which he was general manager from 1935-41.
Choy returned to his native America in 1945 and became active in community affairs
soon after his arrival. He became an outspoken, relentless and often tactless and
intolerant critic of what he considered to be unproductive and outdated practices in
Chinatown institutions that led to their ineffectiveness and encouraged corruption. He
soon became a controversial figure in the community and those with vested interests in
the status quo regarded him as an annoying gadfly. In 1954-55, Choy became the first
executive director of the anti-Chiang Kai-shek, anti-Communist Crusade for Free
Democratic China. The fact that the crusade was not only anti-Communist, but also
anti-Chiang Kai-shek, did not endear him to Taiwan partisans. Choy possessed an
astute and shrewd political sense, honed by decades of experience in the treacherous
sands of republican officialdom in mainland China. He also had numerous contacts in
high political and financial circles.

In 1957 Choy established and became manager of the Chinatown branch of San
Francisco Savings and Loan Association located at 1044 Grant Avenue. With thrifty
Chinatown residents attracted by the institution’s higher interest rates as compared to
banks, the branch became highly successful. By 1960 the branch had moved into an
adjacent new building it built. Soon afterward the Kennedy administration took office in
Washington. In America the civil rights movement was growing in intensity along with
the demand for a renewed sense of national purpose, with an increased demand to
enhance the quality of American life. This change in the national political atmosphere
probably played a role in influencing Choy to convert the former office of the savings
and loan into a Chinese Community Center, sometimes known as the Chinese
Community House, wholly supported by his financial institution. The facility housed a
small library, community bulletin board, and a meeting hall. Personnel stationed there
also provided some assistance and advice on access to social and welfare services. (6)
Choy probably had an idea of eventually using this as a launching pad for social and
political action in Chinatown.

Chinese Community House filled an obvious need in a Chinatown that was
beginning to feel the pressure of numerous social problems. It soon attracted the
attention of many individuals concerned with finding solutions to the community’s
needs. On February 26, 1963 Choy announced formation of the San Francisco Greater
Chinatown Community Service Association Organization (SFGCCSA) “to keep pace
with the times by providing the maximum amount of social and other community
services, as called for by President Kennedy in extending the service of the Peace
Corps to help the underprivileged in communities throughout the country.”
Among SFGCCSA’s founders were Choy’s associates from San Francisco
Federal Savings and Loan Association as well as activists connected with churches
and community groups. These included Lorna Logan, Director of Presbyterian
Cameron House; Irving Kriegsfeld, Director of Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center and
Dr. John Rigney, psychiatrist and director of San Francisco Planning and Urban
Renewal Association (SPUR). There were also prominent Chinatown figures such as
Joe Yuey, Samuel Wong, Nellie Tom Quock as well as other businesspersons,
professionals and enlightened community leaders.

Joe Yuey was one of the owners of the upscale Imperial Palace Restaurant and
leader in the influential Chinatown fraternal association Suey Sing. An immigrant who
had risen from humble beginnings, he had become a respected leader in the
Chinatown business community. He was also a collector of Chinese art and well-known
in art circles. In 1949 Joe Yuey was one of a group of Chinese American leaders who
owned the newspaper Chung Sa; Yat Po that advocated American recognition of the
newly established People’s Republic of China. (7) Samuel Wong was a wealthy real
estate owner. He had long been a critic of what he perceived as CCBA’s lack of fiscal
accountability to the Chinese community. Thus around the time of the founding of
SFGCCSA, when CCBA was soliciting contributions to remodel its headquarters
building, Samuel Wong offered to donate $1,000 but pointedly announced in public that
CCBA must first make public the income and expenditures for the construction of
Victory Hall after World War II, as well as the accounts for the “Double Ten”
celebrations for the previous three years. Although public opinion generally sided with
Wong, CCBA rejected his contribution rather than release the figures. (8) Nellie Tom
Quock, a social worker, was born and raised in America but had long been interested in
Chinese art and culture and was active in Chinatown cultural groups. Through her
influence, the Tom family and the Tom Do Hing Foundation became active supporters
of Chinese cultural activities, and of the future Chinese Culture Foundation as well.

SFGCCSA became a platform independent of the CCBA and traditional
associations for advocating and launching community projects. The founding president
and executive vice president were J. K. Choy and Joe Yuey. The two established a
complementary working relationship that was to last throughout the next decade.

Playing the Political Game
Coincidentally with the founding of SFGCCSA in February 1963, the city
government announced a month later that the city-owned land at Kearny and
Washington Streets opposite Portsmouth Square on the edge of Chinatown (formerly
occupied by the Hall of Justice that moved out in 1956) was up for sale for a minimum
price of $850,000. The City soon received an offer from the Howard Johnson interests
to buy the land for construction of a 21-story auto court and was inclined to approve the
deal. Getting wind of the pending sale J. K. Choy, representing SFGCCSA, contacted
City authorities regarding the possible conversion of the abandoned building into a
museum, cultural center, or other public facility for use by the community. When the
City came back with the conclusion that such a project would be economically
unfeasible, Choy and his associates, through the mayor’s office, persuaded a reluctant
Board of Supervisors to postpone a decision on the land to allow Choy’s group to make
a feasibility study and come up with a similar proposal for a Chinese cultural and trade
center. (9)

In April 1964 SFGCCSA contracted the firm of J. Francis Ward, who did the
architectural design for the Ping Yuen public housing project, to draw up preliminary
plans. Most of the design was the responsibility of a young architect Thomas Hsieh. (10)
Subsequently in May SFGCCSA entered into a working arrangement with San
Francisco Redevelopers on a proposal to acquire and develop the site. (11) In the
meantime SFGCCSA also established a cultural committee chaired by Prof. John D.
LaPlante, acting head of the Stanford University Museum, to work with the architect to
formulate ideas for the facility. Committee members included representation from San
Francisco Redevelopment Agency, educators, experts on Chinese arts and culture as
well as lay persons actively involved in such activities. There were also individuals
such as Chinese Historical Society of America founders H. K. Wong, Ching Wah Lee,
and Thomas Chinn. Others were SFGCCSA members. (12) The group came up with a
conceptual plan envisioning a Chinese Cultural and Trade Center on the site that
includes an apartment ,and/or motel area, a garage, a cultural center with theater,
museum and social areas, a commercial area of shops, and offices. However, San
Francisco Redevelopers soon ran into financial difficulties. SFGCCSA terminated the
working agreement in late December and so informed the City in January 1965. (13) The
project was now left without a developer.

On March 1, 1965, the County Board of Supervisors met to consider the
proposed project. A supervisor raised the objection that the long delay in developing
the site was “robbing San Francisco of needed tax revenues.” However, SFGCCSA
successfully lobbied the Board to pass a resolution by a vote of 7 to 2, turning over the
property to the Redevelopment Agency to begin negotiating with several prospective
buyers, select a design and developer and dispose of the land by December 31, 1965.
(14) By November 30 the Agency had approved two concepts for further study. One
was by Clement Chen and Dartmond Cherk, while the other was by Campbell and
Wong & Associates and Chan-Rader & Associates. It was not until a year later, on
November 15, 1966, before the Redevelopment Agency finally recommended the
investor’s group Justice Enterprises, Inc. to be the developer to construct a 27-story
skyscraper based on a modified version of a design submitted by Clement Chen and
Associates. The structure was to be operated as a Holiday Inn. Furthermore, Justice
Enterprises was to build a 20,000-square foot facility dedicated to cultural activities
within the edifice and to contribute $70,000 toward its completion. (15)

Founding of the Chinese Culture Foundation
Meanwhile advocates of the proposed center incorporated on October 15, 1965,
as the Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco (CCF). The new non-profit
corporation’s stated primary objective was “to establish a forum of Chinese culture in
San Francisco by means of collection and presentation for public enjoyment and
education the best historical and contemporary paintings and objects of fine art and the
best examples of early Chinese culture, artifacts and articles depicting the contribution
of the Chinese people in the United States; and to present outstanding artistic, literary,
dramatic, dance, and musical expression, and other creative and performing arts, by
Chinese and Chinese American artists.” CCF will establish “a museum, library,
auditorium, and other appropriate facilities for carrying out the programs and purposes
of the Foundation”; i.e., a Chinese Culture Center. (16)

The thirty-four CCF founders each, from his or her own perspective, had an
interest in promoting Chinese and Chinese American culture. The majority were
Chinatown businesspeople and leaders in Chinatown organizations, mostly of the
immigrant generation. More than half were active participants in SFGCCSA, which
assumed the role of principal supporter of CCF until the Chinese Culture Center (CCC)
opened. There was also a significant minority of American-born Chinese and non-
Chinese that were connected with financial and neighborhood organizations, social
agencies, churches, or cultural circles. The political leanings of individuals among the
founders varied from moderately conservative to moderately liberal. J. K. Choy became
acting president of the fledgling organization aided by Quailand Tom of San Francisco
Savings and Loan Association as secretary; Samuel Wong as treasurer. Later Joe
Yuey became executive vice-president. He was to continue in the role of Choy’s righthand
man in the organization until after CCC began operations. (17)

After a year of intense negotiations, CCF signed a lease with Justice Enterprises
on November 21, 1967, for 20,000 square feet of space including the entire third floor
of the new structure plus storage and plaza areas as a cultural center for fifty years at
an annual rental of $1. The lease provided for an additional ten years at the end of fifty
years if the structure continued to be operated as a hotel. The developer agreed to
contribute $650,000 for construction of the facility that would include an auditorium
seating 500 persons, an eighteen-foot high exhibition hall, and lecture rooms and
offices for community uses. (18) As the project inched toward start of construction the
Nationalist regime on Taiwan also became increasingly interested in the Center and
invited M. Justine Hermann of the Redevelopment Agency and Clement Chen, project
architect to Taipei to discuss support for and involvement in the cultural aspects of the
forthcoming facility. As a result of the negotiations Dr. Paul H. C. Wang, Director of the
Bureau of Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Education arranged for gifts of publications, films,
artwork, etc., from the National Palace Museum, the National Historical Museum, city of
Taipei and other Taiwan institutions. Taiwan authorities also agreed to provide the
services of an architect to consult on embellishment of the pedestrian bridge
connecting Holiday Inn and the Chinese Culture Center to Chinatown. Later that year
they sent noted artist-architect Chi-kwan Chen to assist with the final design. (19) Groundbreaking
for building construction took place on August 20, 1968, with a projected
completion date of early 1970. (20)

Holiday Inn and the Bridge
Now that the Holiday Inn with a Chinese cultural center was going to be a reality,
the project became caught in the swirling political currents of the community. The late
1960s was a period of social action in America sparked successively by movements
demanding civil rights for African Americans and other ethnic minorities, and an end to
the Vietnam War. The tumultuous events sparked a demand for change in the Chinese
American community. In 1968 street youths organized as the Wah Ching, with George
Woo as their spokesman, demanded at a meeting held at Chinese American Citizens’
Alliance Hall that CCBA and the traditional organizations contribute funds to help solve
the youth problem. (21) In 1968 and 1969 activist Chinese American students participated
in strikes demanding the establishment of curricula on Asian American Studies in San
Francisco State College and University of California at Berkeley. The students soon
combined forces with community activists pushing for change in Chinatown.
When construction began on the Holiday Inn, activists negotiated fruitlessly with
the contractor to place Chinese American workers in construction jobs on the project.
Their failure spurred a group to form Chinese for Affirmative Action (CM) to promote
equal opportunities for and to fight discrimination against the Chinese in America.
While construction was going on, CM continued to press Holiday Inn to train and hire
more Chinese on its future staff. (22) As construction proceeded other dissenting voices
felt that the site should have been used for public housing. Thus when the Holiday Inn
sans pedestrian bridge was formally dedicated by San Francisco Mayor Alioto on
January 13, 1971, not only were there firecrackers, a lion dance, speeches and two
young ladies popping out from a giant fortune cookie, but present also were young
activists with signs shouting “Housing for the people –not a hotel for tourists.” (23)
The elevated pedestrian bridge planned by the developer to span the busy
arterial of Kearny Street and facilitating access between the hotel containing the
proposed culture center and Chinatown became another point of contention.
Opponents charged that the structure will obliterate some precious open space and
shut out the sun on Portsmouth Square — traditionally a place where Chinatown elders
relaxed and children played. Particularly, they pointed out that the bridge will cast a
shadow over the children’s play area. Thus when the City Recreation Park and
Planning commissions respectively approved the bridge on November 14 and 21, 1968,
soon after ground-breaking for building construction, they required that the playground
be moved to another p.art of the park. Detailed design, however, was not approved until
more than two years later on January 4, 1971, when the City issued a construction
permit with the proviso that the bridge be designed to withstand the heavy traffic
expected for some Culture Center events, adding some $160,000 to the originally
estimated $480,000 construction cost. The bridge finally opened for traffic in August
1971, but the facility for Chinese culture still remained an unrealized dream. However,
anticipating its early completion, San Francisco Federal Savings and Loan Association
offered to CCF use of its Chinese Community House for use as a temporary office from
October 1, 1968, to January 31, 1970. (24) As events unfolded and the opening was
delayed for another three years, CCF had to move after termination of the lease
successively to temporary offices at 41 Spofford Alley, 560 Pacific Avenue, the lobby of
Holiday Inn, and finally in the unfinished CCC facility. (25)

Planning the Facility
While construction was progressing on the Holiday Inn CCF board modified the
Foundation’s internal structure. In 1969 the maximum number of directors on the board
increased from thirty-four to forty-four in an attempt to broaden the base of support to
make CCC a reality. (26) New faces appeared as the CCF board added more members of
the Chinatown business community as well as non-Chinese from the larger community
influential in the political and cultural spheres.

On July 1, 1969 the CCF board appointed Shanghai-born William D. Y. Wu as
the first Executive Director of the culture center in the making. Wu had been involved in
the embryonic Asian American movement on the East Coast. When he accepted the
appointment he was teaching at Dartmouth College and had just established a seminar
Arts in Society. In the course enrollees worked on problems of culture in black
ghettoes, depressed white communities, etc., giving Wu an opportunity through
observations and implementation to work out a theoretical blueprint for a communitytype
institution such as a Chinese Culture Center. (27)

The facility that Justice Enterprises had agreed to construct and turn over to
CCF was originally meant to be only one floor with a twelve-foot headroom. $70,000
was allowed for finishing the interior for occupancy. As Wu worked with the board on
concrete plans for the facility it gradually became clear that there was inadequate
working space in the facility as planned by the contractor. The CCF board decided the
facility should be. 20-foot high with an auditorium and a mezzanine. The Foundation
also requested the contractor to relocate four columns that would have obstructed the
audience’s line-of-sight in the proposed auditorium. All these changes resulted in
unforeseen additional design and construction costs. The Redevelopment Agency had
to arbitrate the dispute that arose between CCF and Justice Enterprise as to the share
of fiscal responsibility borne by each party. Thus after the Holiday Inn was formally
dedicated on January 13, 1971, followed by the completion of the bridge in August of
the same year, the Culture Center remained an unfinished cavernous vault awaiting
resolution of the dispute. Even more important, CCF had not come up with its share of
the construction money. (28) It was during this period that CCF became embroiled in the
political controversy that was to affect the CCC’s course of development for the next
two decades.

Political Controversy
According to time-honored practice in the Chinese American community, CCF
had planned to solicit contributions from Chinese all over the United States to build the
Chinese Culture Center. On August 6, 1969, it requested and received the important
unanimous endorsement of the board of directors of the influential Chinese Six
Companies urging the Chinese community to support the Center. (29) After this
endorsement, many major family and district associations responded positively with
pledges for donations, and as plans for the culture center were more finalized,
membership and donations increased. On September 7, 1970, a San Francisco
delegation consisting of Joe Yuey, Park Louie, Albert Wong and George Wu flew to
New York and obtained the approval of the project in a meeting with representatives
from seven major associations of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of
New York, the most influential traditional organization on the eastern seaboard. (30)
Everything apparently was going smoothly.

A fortnight later the situation suddenly changed when the Chinese Six
Companies voted on September 22 to withdraw its support from CCF because certain
unnamed Foundation officers had made unfavorable remarks about Nationalist China
in an article that appeared in the February 23, 1970, issue of Newsweek. In that essay
reporter Min Yee had quoted Joe Yuey as saying: “It’s a question of what a government
can do for the people. The Nationalists were in power for forty years and nothing
happened. Look at China now, after only twenty years. No matter how you look at it, the
Communists are helping the people.” (31)

In reality CCBA’s break with CCF was the culmination of a situation that had
been festering over several years. At the time a change in the international and
national arenas was already in the air. In 1968 the United States’ next-door neighbor
Canada had announced its intention of establishing diplomatic relations with the PRC.
The United States was also already exploring means to relax tensions with the Chinese
mainland. Correspondingly, the Taiwan Kuomintang regime and its supporters abroad
stepped up efforts to buttress their interests in different countries and to ensure
continued sympathy and support for Taiwan. In the Chinese American community the
principal effort continued to be the maintenance of political control and keeping the lid
on public opinion favorable to mainland China and critical of Taiwan. Thus although
expressions of opinions favoring better US-PRC relations were not uncommon even
among Chinese Americans, open advocacy, especially in a national periodical, was
unacceptable to supporters of the Taiwan regime guarding against political heresies in
the Chinese American community.

An additional factor was that during this same period President Lyndon
Johnson’s domestic “War on Poverty” program had led to the establishment of social
agencies in Chinatown funded by federal money. Their appearance attracted the influx
of western-educated professionals and idealistic students intent on changing the
Chinese community and bringing it into the American mainstream. Prominent among
these were activists pushing for action on issues such as unemployment, housing, and
juvenile delinquency prevention. Some of the activists soon came into conflict with the
guardians of the status quo as represented by the CCBA and the traditionalist
organizations. The Chinatown-North Beach Economic Development Agency was one of
the principal battlegrounds. A number of activists were also on the board of directors of
SFGCCSA and/or CCF. Most advocated such liberal policies as US recognition of the
PRC, opposition to the Vietnam War, integration in the public schools, etc., all of which
were diametrically opposite to the political stances of the Kuomintang and CCBA.

CCF, along with SFGCCSA, had been two of the few major Chinatown
organizations outside the orbit of the CCBA. CCBA leaders had long been irritated with
the outspoken and sometime scornful criticism emanating from CCF leaders such as J.
K. Choy and Samuel Wong. CCBA was especially sensitive to what was perceived as
their questioning of CCBA’s leadership capability and right to occupy the top position in
the Chinatown community hierarchy. These organizations were also free from the
political domination by the Kuomintang, who suspected the political reliability (i.e.,
support for Taiwan) of their officers, J. K. Choy and Joe Yuey. Thus individuals in
power in both the CCBA and the Kuomintang had an underlying hostile and distrustful
attitude toward CCF and principals connected with the organization.

CCF foes seized available opportunities to harass and to discredit individuals
connected with the organization. Earlier on in 1966 they had struck at the outspoken J.
K. Choy. On the morning of Oct. 12, 1966 Choy found garbage and rubbish heaped at
the door of Chinatown’s San Francisco Savings and Loan. At the same time rumors
circulated in Chinatown that the financial institution was about to fail and the president
had fled to Mexico. A run started on the Chinatown branch as anxious Chinese
Americans flocked to withdraw their hard-earned savings. More than $3 million in funds
was disbursed in three days before the panic subsided. (32) Again in 1969 the Chinese
community was rife with talk charging that Alan Wong, SFGCCSA member and a CCF
founder, was affiliated with Communist and radical groups. Wong, a member of the
Chinese Y.M.C.A. staff, was active in the “War on Poverty” Program where he often
clashed with board members speaking for CCBA. He had also openly advocated better
understanding between the US and the PRC. Wong finally had to run a personal
advertisement in the Chinese newspapers to refute these groundless allegations. (33)

Toward CCF the Taiwan partisans exhibited in turn the velvet glove and the iron
fist. In early 1970, eleven Taiwan government agencies held a March 5 ceremony at
the Literature and Arts Center of the Cultural Bureau in Taipei to formally donate art
objects and decorations for installation on the pedestrian bridge connecting Holiday Inn
to Chinatown. (34) Taiwan government representatives also offered to lease space in the
facility for a Republic of China information office; however, CCF turned down this offer
since it felt that, being Chinese American in origin, there must be no doubt that the
organization is not the agent of any foreign government. (35)

During the same period, articles hinting that certain CCF board members were
politically undesirable and embarrassing to the Taiwan government began to be
planted in Chinatown newspapers. On May 4, 1970, the pro-Taiwan Truth Semi-Weekly
reported that the Taiwan government was about to take over the Culture Center.
Subsequently Taiwan Consul-General Chou Tung-hua and Chinese Six Companies
director Foo Hum requested an August 21, 1970, meeting with Justin Herman, director
of the Redevelopment Agency and Foundation representatives to discuss changing the
composition of the Foundation board of directors. But despite heated exchanges and
unsubstantiated charges during the talks, nobody could really openly disagree with the
appropriateness of the Foundation’s policy that J. K. Choy’s reiterated: “We operate
according to by-laws. We exclude no one.” It was after the failure of this attempted
takeover of the Foundation board that Taiwan supporters staged the vote to annul the
CCBA endorsement. (36)

Unwilling to let the accusations go unanswered, CCF called a press conference
on October 7 presided by Board chairperson George Davis and President J. K. Choy.
In the meeting Choy stressed that Joe Yuey expressed his opinion as an individual and
not as an officer of the Foundation. Reporter Min Yee, who was present, also pointed
out that during his numerous interviews in the Chinese community many had expressed
similar views. In a prepared statement Choy stated: “We feel that the Six Companies do
not understand that we live in a free society here and that individuals can express
themselves openly. ” He further reminded the audience that the United States
recognizes only single citizenship and an American citizen can be loyal only to the
United States, but Taiwan maintains dual citizenship and uses it to control cultural
activities of American citizens [of Chinese extraction]. In response to a reporter’s
question Choy accused Doon Wong and Foo Hum by name of seeking to take over
CCF, and failing that, to destroy it. (37) After the press conference Choy received an
anonymous letter on Oct. 8 threatening to kill him and Joe Yuey. (38)

By this time the indefatigable J. K. Choy, who had spearheaded the effort to
build a culture center since its inception, was in his late seventies and it was inevitable
that he would soon have to pass the leadership to a younger person. Key board
members led by Joe Yuey were anxious that the CCF continued to have a leadership
that could maintain its status as an independent non-political Chinese American
institution. At the time a rising star among the new generation of Chinese American
activists who were ready to change the Chinese community and to raise the status of
Chinese in American society was a 27-year old attorney named Gordon Lau. Lau had
been actively organizing the Chinese community around civil rights, housing and
unemployment issues. In late 1968 Lau had announced his candidacy seeking a seat
on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. (39) He had a number of supporters on the
CCF board, among whom was the influential executive vice-president Joe Yuey, who
had been steadily moving toward a close working relationship with the activists. Lau
became a CCF board member in 1969. In 1971 he succeeded J. K. Choy as CCF
president. Choy co-chaired the board along with Attorney George Davis for one year
before he retired from that office in 1972 and was succeeded by Lim P. Lee. (40)

In 1971 Dr. Rolland Lowe, who came from a family that had long supported
progressive causes, entered the CCF board. During the 1960s Lowe had played an
active role in a number of Chinatown organizations and social agencies. In 1968-69 he
participated actively in the San Francisco Chinese Community Citizens’ Survey and
Fact Finding Committee that looked into the problems and issues faced by the
contemporary San Francisco Chinese community. (41) Another entering the board the
same year was activist Ling-chi Wang. Wang had been a outspoken critic of the CCBA
and the Kuomintang and active in the “War on Poverty” Program. Around 1969 he was
one of the group that supplanted the more conservative faction that had been in control
of the influential Chinese American Democratic Club (CADC). In 1971 Wang had just
resigned as director of Youth Service Center working on juvenile delinquency
prevention activities. (42) During the next few years other liberal community activists also
became board members. However, although they made important contributions to the
development of CCC, their principal focus was on activities outside CCC.

For awhile, it appeared that the Taiwan government ministries had a friendlier
attitude than the San Francisco party loyalists toward CCF. As the pedestrian bridge
connecting Holiday Inn to Portsmouth Square approached completion, part of the
embellishments promised by the Taiwan authorities arrived in mid-1971. The remainder
was also loaded at the port of Keelung, Taiwan awaiting the voyage across the
Pacific. (43) However, San Francisco Kuomintang hard-liner leaders Doon Wong and C.
1. Shew soon prevailed when they appealed to Republic of China President Chiang
Kai-shek to halt further shipments. No further shipments arrived. (44) Taking their cue
from the CCBA most Chinatown traditional organizations instituted a de facto boycott of
the Culture Center. This situation had a profound effect on CCC’s course of
development for more than a decade and did not change for the better until after the
relaxation of tension between Taiwan and the PRC beginning in the late 1980s. (45)

Building the Facility
Following the withdrawal of the CCBA endorsement, a number of Chinatown
traditional organizations canceled their donation pledges. Although CCF assured the
public that it would overcome financial obstacles to finish the project with or without the
Chinese Six Companies, by 1972 CCF had raised only about $120,000, not nearly
enough to build the facility. In an attempt to further broaden its base the maximum
number of directors became fifty-four that same year. Another significant change was
that CCF increasingly began to target Chinese living away from Chinatown, especially
the American-born and western-educated professionals, since they tended to be less
involved in Chinese politics. Also they were more educated and many were of middle
class status with the interest to support cultural and artistic activities. Increasingly, new
board members were drawn from these quarters. They became the nucleus of
volunteers for planning and implementing activities and raising funds.

In mid-summer 1972 CCF proponents received critical support when the San
Francisco Board of Supervisors Cultural Activities Committee passed a resolution
“Endorsing the Chinese Cultural [sic] Foundation and its efforts to provide a worthy
cultural project” and urging public support for the Center. (46) Bolstered by this
reaffirmation of support, the CCF board, largely through the efforts of J. K. Choy and
others, persuaded three banks — Hong Kong Bank of California, Bank of the Orient and
Bank of America, to lend $150,000, $50,000, and $50,000 respectively to complete
construction of the Culture Center. (47) The facility was to include an auditorium,
exhibition galleries, library, audio-visual room, meeting room, and offices.

Work on the Chinese Culture Center began on January 27, 1973. Despite being
the target of derisive and sarcastic attacks from published articles such as Mike Miller’s
“Meanwhile, back in Chinatown, the Inscrutable Chinese Cultural Center — It’s a
Holiday Inn” (48) and Allan Temko’s “Dr. Fu Manchu’s Plastic Pagoda: San Francisco’s
new ‘Chinese Cultural Center’ has given the ‘Inscrutable East’ the Worst Screwing It
Has Had in a Century,” (49) the facility was ready for occupancy by fall 1973. (50) It had
taken almost a decade for the Chinese Culture Center to progress from abstract
concept to concrete reality. It was a facility for cultural activities that had no rival in the
Chinese community of that era, but CCF was also saddled with a heavy construction

Opening and Operating the Chinese Culture Center: Defining a Chinese Culture Center
While planning and construction of the facility was progressing, Executive
Director William Wu and the CCF board were also tackling the monumental task of
organizing and building programs for the Culture Center and defining the Center’s
working objectives. Since this was the first such institution among the Chinese in the
United States, there were no prototypes for reference. The fact that Chinese culture
itself had many facets and had gone through many changes rendered the definition of a
Chinese Culture Center that much more difficult. Thus even though there was a general
consensus on the desirability to establish a Chinese Culture Center, there were wide
variations in conception and objectives.

The older generation in the Chinese community was primarily concerned with
the preservation of their own cultural links to the ancestral land: family customs, moral
values and traditional culture. For example, at the founding of CCF, Joe Yuey was said
to have pledged half of his Chinese art collection for display in the Center. Moreover,
the older generation was anxious that the younger generation continue to be literate in
Chinese and speak in their ancestral tongue so that at least the generations could
communicate. Members of the younger generation, at least the more articulate and
vocal, defined their ethnic identity as the totality of their American experience, distinct
from mainstream American culture and from the culture imported from the ancestral
land. They were eager to create a culture as distinct as the Afro-American culture. In
addition, there were non-Chinese who found the idea of a culture center appealing: an
opportunity to relate to Chinese culture not from the standpoint of identity or heritage,
but from the aesthetic viewpoint. To them, a Chinese culture center meant access to
the richness and variety of Chinese culture that they would be able to experience close
at hand. Thus it was a coalition with diverse interests and different outlooks that was
working together toward realization of a Chinese Culture Center.

Executive Director Wu eventually developed a set of guiding principles for CCC
activities that was generally acceptable to a range of people: To reaffirm the identities
of Americans of Chinese ancestry and to develop those areas of Chinese culture that
remain meaningful to contemporary and future lifestyles. These had remained the goals
of the institution. Up to this point, all discussions had centered on the establishment of
a Chinese Cultural and Trade Center. However, as programming objectives became
better defined and programs evolved, it became clear that the name “Chinese Culture
Center” would be more appropriate for the type of activities envisioned and the change
was made around 1972.

With his small staff and a core of dedicated volunteers, Executive Director
William Wu implemented a number of innovative ideas, many new to the San Francisco
Chinese community. Wu strove to put on non-controversial, non-political cultural
programs and be even-handed in the highly sensitive area of dealings with Taiwan and
the PRC. One of the earliest CCF programs initiated around 1969 was a folklore
workshop that in 1971 developed into weekly story-telling sessions by Kenneth Joe.
These sessions continued until the late 1970s and was one of the CCF programs with
the greatest longevity. In 1970, CCF organized in-service training workshops on
Chinese music and arts and crafts for teachers in the San Francisco Unified School
District. There were workshops for music, dance and shadow play in 1971. CCF also
organized a Moon Festival Celebration at Portsmouth Square. In 1972 the Foundation
co-sponsored performances by the Tung Hua shadow play troupe from Taiwan. In
1973, the first film on recent archaeological finds in the People’s Republic of China was
presented at the Palace of Fine Arts. As program activities increased, CCF initiated
publication of a newsletter to keep members informed of CCF activities. (51) Executive
Director Wu also added Vivian Chiang to the staff as his assistant in 1972. (52)

During this period CCF began also to play an important role presenting
outstanding Chinese artists and talent to the public, especially those who had recently
arrived in America. CCF was one of the earliest institutions to introduce dancer Chiang
Ching to the followers of Terpsichore in the San Francisco Bay Area. Chiang went on to
establish an international reputation as a dancer and choreographer. (53) CCF was also
instrumental in enabling Chinese pugilism master Lien Ying Kuo and his wife Eing Ru
Loo (Simmone L. Kuo) to gain permanent residence in the United States. Master Kuo
was one of the earliest teachers who helped to popularize tai chi chuan in this
country. (54)

More Political Controversy
Despite these accomplishments, international development during the early
1970s continued to be a negative factor exacerbating CCF relations with the
conservative Chinatown establishment. 1972 saw the initiation of “ping pong
diplomacy” between United States and the PRC. Many Chinese Americans had high
hopes for better relations between the two nations. In January 1972, a Chinese
Americans for Better US-China Relations Committee launched a petition drive aimed at
drawing support for the President’s forthcoming trip. Heading the committee was Joe
Yuey, Gordon Lau, and Ernest Wong, all CCF board members. Four of the eighteen
committee members were also current or former CCF board members. The Kuomintang
party organ Young China immediately branded the committee as “fellow travelers and
dupes” and anyone who signed the petitions as supporters of “Mao’s communism.” (55)
After the breakthrough in US-PRC relations following Nixon’s trip to China, CCF joined
with more than a hundred organizations in Northern California to sponsor a reception in
April for the visiting PRC Ping Pong Team. The board also sent Executive Director Wu
with a delegation of fifteen to visit the PRC to explore the possibilities of cultural
exchanges. (56) Leading the support for these actions were Joe Yuey and the younger
activists who felt that it was time for the Chinese community to get in step with changing
US-PRC relations rather than be governed by the dictates of a foreign regime. Some
board members, especially certain individuals with close ties to Chinese community,
however, feared that they would further antagonize pro-Taiwan elements and make it
even more difficult for CCF to gain support in Chinatown.

To allay these apprehensions the CCF annual meeting on November 14, 1972
passed a resolution affirming that CCF was a non-profit, non-political organization and
that its objectives were promoting culture and working for the public welfare. Members
participating in political activities should do so as individuals unaffiliated with CCF. (57) It
was probably the same line of reasoning that led CCF board to change the official
Chinese name of Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco from Sanfanshi Zhongguo
Wenhua Zhongxin to Jiujinshan Zhonghua Wenhua Zhongxin. The more generic term
Zhonghua, pertaining generally to people of Chinese descent, was used rather than
Zhongguo, referring to China the national state, to emphasize that CCF’s focus was on
Chinese culture regardless of political boundaries. The organization also chose to use
Jiujinshan, (old gold mountain), the widely used Chinese term for San Francisco, rather
than the more local Cantonese transliteration Sanfanshi as an indication that CCF
intended CCC to be more than merely a local institution. (58)

However, fine legal distinctions meant little to the pro-Taiwan camp who saw
CCF as intending to create a PRC beachhead in San Francisco Chinatown. It
continued to exert unremitting pressure on CCF. At the annual conference of the
Kuomintang held in San Francisco in August 1973 members of the San Francisco and
Oakland party branches, presented a resolution charging that CCF was “an organ used
by Maoist communists to build a united front.” The resolution requested central party
headquarters on Taiwan “not to donate any cultural objects to the Chinese Culture
Center without the agreement of the General Branch in America.” (59)

These attacks did not cease when the Chinese Culture Center formally opened
on October 18, 1973 and celebrated the occasion with a village fair, an idyllic recreation
out of 12th century China. This was an approach to Chinese culture fresh to
America with the emphasis on folk arts and crafts, music and dances and almost
10,000 people attended. But a reporter for the pro-Taiwan Chinese Times sneered at
the cultural presentations, branding them “disappointing” and remarking that “if these
were representative of Chinese culture then they missed by a thousand miles.” At this
point Executive Director William Wu, having reached a milestone, announced his
resignation, effective Dec. 31, 1973, in order to devote more time to research. Vivian
Chiang became acting executive director until the board appointed a permanent
executive director. Wu continued to be a valued advisor and from 1981 through 1986
served on the board of directors.

In an attempt to mute the criticism that the CCF was pro-PRC, the CCF board
elected Lim P. Lee president in 1974. Lee had long been active in the Chinese
American community and had numerous contacts in the traditionalist power structure.
He had worked closely with the CCBA, especially during the 1950s when the Federal
Government was investigating Chinese immigration fraud. Lee also actively
participated in mainstream politics and was identified with the more conservative
faction in the Chinese American Democratic Club that the younger activists had
displaced around 1969.

Lee and other directors with close connections to the traditional associations
tried to pour oil on the stormy waters. However, when board director Dennis Wong
stated the case for CCF to the editor of the influential Chinese Times, the response was
an editorial ridiculing CCF’s claim of non-involvement in politics and accusing it of
“displaying a ram’s head while in reality selling dog meat.” CCF’s weak response was
an advertisement in the Chinese newspapers reaffirming its non-profit, non-political
status. This only resulted in a second round of calumny and accusations from the right.
These exchanges became the stimulus for a rash of articles in the Chinese press
attacking and defending CCF’s viewpoint on Chinese culture. (60)

CCF’s foes tried in other ways to undermine CCF programs. When CCF invited
taichi master Lien Yin Kuo and his pupils to demonstrate the martial arts at a fundraising
banquet in 1974, Kuo received an unsigned letter asking: “Are you not a
delegate from Suiyuan Province to the National Assembly? Are you not a citizen of the
Republic of China?…[By accepting the invitation] you simply are dishonoring your
character and performing a disservice to the nation [meaning Republic of China] and all
your fellow Chinese. What a pity!” Kuo ignored the letter and the performance went on
as scheduled. (61) However, political pressure Republic of China Consul-General Y. S.
Lee allegedly exerted on Katherine Wang, Peking opera performer from Taiwan,
resulted in her withdrawal from a scheduled CCF-sponsored performance. (62)

As these events were unfolding the CCF Board took time out on May 15 to
choose a new executive director. The strongest candidate for the position was Shirley
Sun. The Shanghai-born Sun was raised in Taiwan. She matriculated at Stanford
University receiving a bachelor’s degree in Asian literature and an M.A. and Ph.D. in
Asian Studies and East Asian art history. She was curator of a Chinese American
historical exhibition Three Generations of Chinese – East and West that was shown in
the Oakland Museum from October 2 to 28, 1973. The exhibit was then augmented with
artifacts on loan from the Chinese Historical Society of America and became the first
exhibit in the new CCC facility from December 15, 1973 to February 17, 1974. Thus the
board was very familiar with Sun’s qualifications. However, in 1971 Sun had been
among the first Chinese Americans invited to visit the PRC after the US had lifted the
ban on travel to mainland China, and she was known to support better US-PRC
relations. The decision on her candidacy split the board with President Lim P. Lee
leading the opposition to her appointment. After a heated discussion the board voted
17 to 10 in her favor over two other finalists. (63)

After Shirley Sun became the new Executive Director on June 1, 1974, CCF
continued with a bit of unfinished business and called a press conference on June 26,
1974, to answer its Chinatown critics. Several CCF board members attended the
meeting, including Dianne Feinstein, then president of the San Francisco Board of
Supervisors, who was there to demonstrate CCF ties to mainstream political figures.
During the conference Co-Chairperson Davis accused the Taiwan Consulate-General
and the Chinese Six Companies of interference in the affairs of CCF. He further
charged: “We have found sufficient evidence that the consulate-general of Taiwan is
following the dictate of its government to take over organizations that are capable of
being taken over, and this is one of those organizations.” Davis complained that CCF
had been blackballed by the Chinese Six Companies and that word had been sent out
through newspaper editorials in the Chinese press that described members of the CCF
board as Communists. Davis, referring to the conflicts on the board, also denounced
unnamed Peking-oriented individuals that had tried to pack meetings to take over the
board; however, his principal target was the actions of pro-Taiwan groupS. (64)

Subsequently, Supervisor Feinstein introduced a resolution that the Board of
Supervisors passed on July 8 reaffirming “its unqualified support of the Chinese
Culture Center and the sponsoring Chinese Culture Foundation” and urged “all people
to support the Chinese Culture Center.” The resolution read in part that “the Center is
devoted strictly to the presentation of Chinese art, music, and literature regardless of
origin and is devoid of political consideration; and …

“Unfounded charges and rumors that the Center is dominated or influenced by
Nationalists or Communists are harmful, even if absurd; and …

“Political interference in the growth and well-being of the Chinese Culture Center
is unwarranted under any circumstances …” (65)

This strong reaction and endorsement from the City authorities had the desired
effect of silencing CCF’s Chinatown critics for the moment, but the CCBA and
traditionalist associations continue to maintain their boycott of CCF-sponsored events.
The political controversy continued the division within the CCF board as to whether the
institution should continue to try to placate the right or to disregard them and move
ahead on an independent course.

Expansion of Activities
Newly appointed CCF executive director Shirley Sun was an aggressive, harddriving,
strongwilled and astute individual. She quickly perceived that there was an
intense growing interest in American society concerning mainland China and she was
eager to capitalize on the situation to help develop programs at CCC. However,
President Um P. Lee, affected by the pervasive Cold war mentality, feared that too
close a relationship with the PRC will be detrimental for the CCF’s image and put
obstacles in many. of her proposed actions in this direction. The result was a frustrating
stalemate. Soon after Sun took office, the Wushu Troupe from the PRC offered a
benefit performance for CCF. In order to avoid a bitter debate at the board level, some
board members and friends organized Friends of the Chinese Culture Foundation to
sponsor the event.

Sun was determined to change this situation. She recruited sufficient new
members into CCF who at the end of 1974 voted to help elect directors more receptive
to her ideas. President Um P. Lee and co-chairperson Davis were among the directors
deposed. (66) Sun now had firm control of CCC’s destiny. The newly constituted CCF
board was by no means radical, but it exhibited a more open attitude toward programs
emanating from the PRC. This change marked the beginning of a new phase in the
development of CCF. One by one directors with ties to SFGCCSA and Chinatown
retired from the scene, and CCF’s destiny was increasingly in the hands of directors
who had fewer ties to the Chinatown community. Dr. Rolland Lowe became president
in 1975 and held the office until 1978. He successfully rallied different factions on the
board to support Executive Director Sun in defining the newly opened CCC.

During the last year of William Wu’s tenure as executive director, Shirley Sun,
who was already actively seeking the position, had learned that revenue sharing funds
were available from the City. She persuaded eleven community cultural groups,
including the Chinese Culture Foundation, to form a loose group known as Chinatown
Council for the Performing and Visual Arts (CCPVA) in July 1973, with the announced
objective of dealing with current and future issues pertaining to arts and culture of the
Chinese community. (67) By August, CCPVA had gone before the San Francisco Art
Commission and successfully lobbied for a grant from the funds. (68)

After protracted negotiations, CCF executed a sublease with the City on May 21,
1975. Under its terms the City-run Neighborhood Arts Program (NAP), through CCPVA,
was to have full usage of the audio-visual room (renamed the Community Room), onethird
usage of the auditorium, and 24% usage of the lobby for 15 years, starting June
15, 1975, in return for a one-time rental payment of $125,000 plus $25,000 for utilities.
$60,000 of this amount went toward discharging part of the $250,000 construction debt
incurred to build the Culture Center.

The board soon found that even the reduced debt figure was still a heavy
burden. The lion’s share of CCF’s annual fund raising went toward payment of interest
on the bank loans with little surplus left for retirement of principal. In 1976 the CCF
board was able to negotiate agreements with the banks to retire the principal first and
paying the interest at the end. (69) However, the situation remained such that little money
was left for facility improvement and program development. The fact that there was no
income generating profit center nor endowments to provide a financial buffer led to
chronic tight budgets. A legacy of this state of affairs was that a major share of the
energy of the CCF board each year was devoted to solving budgetary issues. It is to
the dedicated core of volunteers who planned and implemented fund-raising events as
well as those who attended these events and donated generously that credit is due for
enabling CCF to continue to develop despite these daunting problems.

CCF’s tight fiscal situation forced it to develop a high degree of dependence on
private and public foundations and corporations for funding its major programs. At that
time such funding was fairly readily available, especially for exhibitions. When record
crowds visited the Exhibition of Archaeological Finds of the People’s Republic of China
in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco during the summer of 1975, CCF initiated
highly popular coordinating programs to enhance this event. In 1976 CCC presented
Front-runners in Modern Chinese Painting, an exhibition of works by modern Hong
Kong and Taiwan artists, after which came Eastern Streams, an Asian American
multimedia presentation. In 1977 the Center became the first gallery on the West Coast
to exhibit the Han and Tang Murals from the People’s Republic of China. Other major
exhibitions were Hu Xian Peasant Paintings (1978) and Chinese Woodcuts (1979). In
this manner CCC attained national prominence and recognition for the quality of its
programs within a few years. Unfortunately the upscale tone set by many of the
programs gave an impression of elite snobbishness. It also offered to the outside world
an appearance of affluence that the organization did not possess.

In the meantime those features and embellishments expected of a functional
public facility had to be added. Soon after the CCC opening, a logo was adopted by
CCF. It was designed in 1973 by graphic designer Ted Wu based on the concept wai
fang nei yuan (“square on the exterior and round in the interior”). (70) In 1975 a donors’
plaque installed in the CCC lobby. (71) A canopy with the CCC name and logo was
designed by architect Worley Wong and constructed and installed by contractor Bob
Yick in 1976. The name of the Chinese Culture Center in Chinese characters was
rendered by artist C. C. Wang. Facsimiles of the calligraphy were used on the canopy
and at the elevator e.ntrance. (72) In 1977 a founders’ plaque was added as well as a
security system for the facility. (73)

Jack T. Quan, as head of the CCF board Building Committee during the 1970s
and early 1980s, spearheaded many of these efforts to upgrade the facility. Soon after
the CCC opened it was discovered that severe noise and vibrations were occurring in
the facility as well as malfunctioning of the air conditioning system. It was Quan and
naval architect Lawrence Jue who worked out acceptable engineering solutions in 1975
to minimized the effects. (74) Later during the early 1980s Quan also headed a project to
expand the exhibition space in the CCC’s north gallery.

Thus during the 1970s each of the features visualized for a functioning CCC
came into being except for one component that failed to materialize. During the design
phase a reading library open to the public had always been intended to be part of the
facility. Indeed, in 1976 the CCF board had solicited and received donations of
publications to form the start of a collection. (75) However, due to the shortage of staff and
available space as well as lack of operating funds the establishment of a public reading
library was postponed indefinitely.

Shirley Sun ran CCC with a firm hand and was quick to discourage any board
attempts to infringe upon what she considered the Executive Director’s prerogatives.
Under Sun’s direction, activities burgeoned to use the new facility to its fullest
advantage. The staff organized Mandarin language classes, shadow play, painting and
calligraphy, and Chinese dance workshops, as well as martial arts, culture, arts and
crafts workshops for youth. A Chinese-American youth orchestra was organized in
1974 that performed both Chinese and western musical compositions. The same year
also saw the establishment of a docents program and the inaugural of Heritage and
Culinary Walks in which docents gave guided tours in San Francisco Chinatown. A
gallery shop was established in 1975 to sell quality publications and art objects. (At first
it was named Zhaohua Zhai (Studio of flowers in the morning) Shop, but the name
never gained general acceptance.) The walks and the gallery shop performed
important functions as media for introducing Chinese and Chinese American culture
and society to the public. In the process they also brought in revenue to supplement the
CCF budget. With all these cultural activities CCF was becoming known as a leader in
promoting Chinese culture in the American context. In 1975, the Ninth Annual Festival
of American Folklife in Washington, DC. sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution
invited CCC to participate as the first Chinese American group to be represented in this

Director Sun encouraged community organizations to use the CCC facility.
During this period the Hop Jok Fair (1974) and Chinese Spring Festival (1975) saw
their beginnings as annual community activities. For about a year beginning with March
1976, CCF sponsored a series of membership nights. in which community groups
presented skits, musical performances, and dance programs. Periodically classes and
workshops for learning Mandarin, Chinese calligraphy and painting, Chinese dance,
folk crafts, martial arts and other aspects of Chinese culture were offered to adults and

Periodically CCF sponsored well-received public lectures on different aspects of
Chinese art and culture. The lecturers included experts in their respective fields such
as Prof. Wei-ming Tu (1974), Prof. Ming-yueh Liang (1975), William Wu (1975, 1976),
Prof. Wen-chung Chou (1976). Due to the popular interest in China after the relaxation
of tensions between the United States and the PRC during the 1970s, CCC offered
lectures and travelogues on the region. Speakers at these popular sessions that helped
better understanding of a region that had been cut off from contacts with America for
more than two decades included Prof. John K. Fairbank (1973), Jack Chen (1975,
1978), Prof. Chien-ning Yang (1975), Prof. Chang-lin Tien (1979), John S. Service
(1979), as well as other recent visitors to China. When PRC Premier Zhou Enlai
passed away in 1976, CCF co-sponsored with five other organizations a symposium
Chou En-Iai: His Time and Impact. In 1980 CCF also co-sponsored a lecture series,
Impact of Foreign Trade on China at the World Affairs Council. Most of the CCFsponsored
lectures and symposia were delivered in the English language.

CCF was also successful in obtaining grants for some research projects. In 1975
CCF received funding to document and record Chinese folklore. Another grant was for
production of instructional materials on Chinese history, art, music and food for high
school teaches. Director Sun also became interested in films and film making. In 1978
CCF co-sponsored with the San Francisco International Film Festival the West Coast
premiere of the cartoon made in the PRC Monkey Makes Havoc in Heaven. The same
year CCF received a grant for a Chinese Cinema Research Project in 1978 to gather
historical information and to write synopses of films produced in China between 1905
and 1949. In 1979 the CCF co-sponsored with Pacific Film Archives of the University of
California, Berkeley, and Center for East Asian Studies of Stanford University the
showing of a series of five PRC films. Sun also received a grant to film three cities in
China – Beijing, Xi’an and Suzhou. This series co-produced with Sue Yong Li became
one of her first major works.

During this period, due to the refusal of the Taiwan authorities to deal with CCF,
many CCC activities and exhibitions by default were connected with the PRC. But CCF
at all times strove to maintain a non-political, non-partisan stance. In 1975 the CCF
board passed a resolution affirming that the CCC facility cannot be used for overt
political purposes and meeting. (76) Users also had to agree not to display foreign flags.
However, most Chinatown traditional association leaders, following the lead of the proTaiwan
CCBA, were reluctant to set foot in the facility. This de facto boycott plus the
fact that the great majority of the board members were increasingly westernized and
English speaking, often lacking fluency in Chinese, created a barrier to
communications between CCF and the Chinese speaking immigrant-dominated
community. The gap was widened further by the impression that the executive director
was unable or unwilling to communicate with people in Chinatown in the prevalent
Cantonese dialect.

Conflict with Community Activists
The adverse conditions CCF faced in Chinatown led the organization to look to
the more liberal activist elements in the Chinese American community for support.
However, this proved to be an uneasy relationship. Activists and their organizations
tended to have egalitarian outlooks and were suspicious of what they considered elitist
tendencies in CCC’s approach to programming. This was accentuated by the fact that
some CCF events, such as exhibition opening receptions and fund-raising dinners,
were targeted toward the more affluent upper middle class from which the organization
received much of its financial support. By 1978 these differences had given birth to a
controversy over community usage of the facility.

CCF’s agreement with the City allowed community cultural organizations access
to the facility, and provided the furbishing of the auditorium. It also brought in a number
of NAP-sponsored programs, greatly diversifying programming at the center.
Programming and space usage became the responsibility of a part-time coordinator
working for the City. In the beginning it was Jim Yee, who was succeeded by Andy

CCPVA applied the NAP guidelines for community use of CCC space rather
loosely. As activities and the demand for usage increased, CCF felt that there was a
need for more coordinated and orderly scheduling as well as more stringent adherence
to the NAP requirements. In 1977 the CCF board had appointed a committee to draft a
master plan for long range development of CCC that included upgrading exhibition
space and programming.77 In order to clear the way for implementing the plan CCC
Executive Director Shirley Sun met with Director Martin Snipper of the San Francisco
Art Commission in 1978, bypassing CCPVA, and reached agreement to clarify certain
provisions of the sub-lease with the City. (78) Some changes were reasonable and
necessary while others were subject to further negotiations. The tactless manner in
which the proposed changes were handled, however, led CCPVA to greatly distrust
CCF’s motives. Interpreting CCF’s proposals as the first steps in restricting community
usage of CCC, CCPVA led by Russell Lowe of the Chinese Media Committee raised
strenuous objections and called upon Chinese American community activists for
support. Community meetings were convened; feelings ran high; the CCF board
became split on the issue. Editorials appeared in concerned Chinese community
newspapers appealing to the two sides to resolve their differences. CCF president
Rosalyn Koo, who had just succeeded Rolland Lowe, was caught in a maelstrom not of
her making. After several months of negotiations, CCF finally reached agreement with

Community activists had focused much of their ire on Executive Director Sun.
Also, by this time her increasing interest in films had increasingly exacerbated the
conflict between her personal growth and execution of her professional duties as an
executive director. Sun resigned as Executive Director in 1979 to become Deputy
Director of Public Programs for the National Endowment for the Humanities and also to
devote more time to film making. (79) Vivian Chiang once again became acting executive
director while a search committee recruited a new head for CCC. At that time CCF had
received a grant for a The Chinese of America: 1784-1980 exhibition that was intended
to be the most comprehensive presentation on Chinese American history and society to
date. Plans for this exhibition and the accompanying Second National Conference on
Chinese American Studies were only partially completed when Sun resigned. The
Board of Directors appointed Him Mark Lai to oversee these projects which were
completed in 1980. (The exhibition subsequently traveled to S1, Louis, Chicago,
Knoxville, Minneapolis, Boston, and Oakland. In 1985 CCF donated it to the Returned
Overseas Chinese Association of Beijing for exhibition and for its possible inclusion in
a proposed Overseas Chinese Museum.) In the meantime Rolland Lowe assumed the
presidency to mend the cracks in a badly fractured board.

Increasing Community Outreach: Adjustment to New Realities
On January 1, 1981, Lucy Lim assumed the position of Executive Director. Lim
was born in the Philippines and received her B.A. in English Literature from University
of Michigan, her M.A. in Art History from University of California at Los Angeles, and
was a Ph.D. candidate in Chinese art history at New York University. She was greatly
respected by colleagues for her expertise in Chinese art. However, Lim had little
administrative experience. A loner who preferred to concentrate her efforts on
organizing and planning art exhibitions, she delegated the administrative duties into the
hands of Vivian Chiang. Chiang also became responsible for CCF-sponsored
community programs. Due to Lim’s disinterest in management the board played an
increasingly stronger participatory role and exercised more supervisory oversight on
CCC staff.

The 1980s was the beginning of a period of reduced federal funding, reflecting a
downturn in the national economy. Many funding sources dried up and competition for
resources became fierce. CCC presented more exhibitions packaged by other
institutions; however, the policy of presenting quality programs was maintained under
Executive Director Lim. Chinese American arts and crafts were well covered by the
exhibitions Not on the Menu and AlP: Posters About People in 1981 and Made in
America in 1982.

In 1982 the Foundation co-sponsored an exhibition and conference to observe
the centennial of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 as well as a presentation of the
Chinese American drama Paper Angels. Following on the heels of Chinese of America
exhibit, the first exhibition of Chinese women in America opened on August 20, 1983.
Other major presentations at the Center included: Eve Arnold’s In China (1981), Daily
Life in the Shanghai Region (1982).

Him Mark Lai served as president for one year in 1982. During the year the
Foundation joined with organizations in six other US and Canadian cities to sponsor
the first North American tour of the Guangdong Yue Opera since the founding of the
PRC. (80) The troupe was led by famous prima donna HongxiannO and actor Chen
Xiaofeng. This event, which required complex coordination and involved more than a
hundred volunteers, raised $90,000 for CCF, the high-water mark in fundraising events
up to that point. Part of the funds raised was expended in 1983 on an expansion of the
exhibition space in the north gallery, a project headed by CCF board member Jack
Quan. The first major show in the enlarged space was an exhibition of contemporary
Chinese paintings from the People’s Republic of China (1983-84).

The visit of the Yue opera troupe established new standards for such
presentations in the North America and opened the door for visits by other PRC Yue
opera troupes; however, similar to the situation that had developed in China and Hong
Kong, the audience for the opera was largely those who were middle-aged or older.
The novelty soon wore off and a second tour in 1985 without Hongxiannu, even though
the troupe was more evenly balanced talent-wise, only netted $3,000 for CCF.

As US-PRC cultural exchanges and the number of Chinese artists in this country
increased, CCC would from time to time sponsor public performances by these artists.
CCC was one of the institutions sponsoring concerts for zheng performer Wei-shan Liu
when she first arrived in America in 1982. These performances inspired many to take
up this instrument and led to founding of the San Francisco Gu-zheng Music Society in
1983. CCF staged special programs such as a lecture by visiting Chinese composer
Chen Gang (1981), a performance by Yen-lu Wong and her dance troupe (1981), a
Central Ensemble of National Music concert (1984), a Chinese American artists’
symposium (1984), a book party for and a talk by author Han Suyin (1985), an
exhibition and lecture on the Jews of Kaifeng co-sponsored with the Jewish Community
Museum (1985), a retrospective of eight films by noted director Xie Jin (1985).
Periodically CCF would also sponsor performances by community traditional
instrumental ensembles, choruses, Cantonese opera clubs and Chinese folk dance

Thrusts in new directions were made. In the crafts, micro-carver Yang Zhou
came from China to demonstrate his skills at the 1983 Chinese Spring Festival. The
Center was instrumental in organizing the well-received Chinese kite exhibition in June
1983 entitled Flights of Fancy that also featured workshops conducted by kite master
Ha Yiqi from the People’s Republic of China. This event culminated an International
Kite Festival on the Marina Green in collaboration with the American Kite fliers
Association. In October 1984 CCF and the Shanghai-San Francisco Friendship
Committee were joint hosts to the Shanghai Puppeteers Troupe. During the group’s
half-month sojourn it gave twenty-three lectures and demonstrations, reaching over
6,000 school children. (81)

Up to this point much of the funding for large scale activities at CCC had came
from the public sector. Due to drastic cutbacks in government funds beginning in the
early 1980s, a heavier burden was placed upon the private sector. Increasingly CCF
had to depend on fundraising in the private sector against great competition. It also had
to rent out the auditorium for use by non-cultural groups and to Holiday Inn clients in
order to help finance the CCC operating budget. The tight fiscal situation also caused
CCF to be unable to repay its construction loans in full. Finally the banks wrote off the
unpaid interest and remaining principal of $35,000 as bad debts around 1987.

In light of the new fiscal realities CCF also reexamined its operations for greater
efficiency and effectiveness. Still trying to broaden its base of support, the maximum
number on the board of directors was increased to sixty in 1980. It did not take long to
discover that so large a number was unwieldy and an obstacle to organizational
effectiveness and responsiveness. Under the leadership of Dr. Rolland Lowe, who
occupied the office of president again from 1983 to 1985, the board in a December
1983 retreat concluded that the size should be reduced. In 1985 the board amended
the bylaws to pare the number of directors to forty-five by the 1986 CCF annual

In 1983 Julie Cheung became NAP coordinator after a succession of
coordinators -Dennis Dun, Jim Dong, and Wilma Pang, had each served a short time in
the position. The bilingual Cheung was highly motivated to reach out to the Chinese
community. Under her direction NAP community programming greatly expanded to
complement CCF programs at CCC. With the efforts made by Vivian Chiang and Julie
Cheung, the next few years marked the development of more harmonious and fruitful
relationships with the Chinese community.

Focus on Educational Activities
During the 1980s the CCF board began to hold annual one-day retreats to
review past activities and project future plans. Since the opening of CCC in 1973 a
major focus had been on exhibitions, since funding sources were readily available for
such activities. However, many on the CCF board saw exhibitions as being a passive
medium that was inherently ineffective in implementing the guiding principles of the
organization; i.e. to reaffirm the identities of Americans of Chinese ancestry and to
develop those areas of Chinese culture that remain meaningful to contemporary and
future lifestyles. In an early 1984 retreat the CCF board reexamined CCF’s principal
purpose and mission and concluded that its chief focus should be educational

Emory Lee assumed the office of president in 1986 and served for three years.
With the increasing interest among American businesses in doing business with the
PRC, CCF hoped to make an impression on the business world as an institution
offering expertise that could facilitate such ventures. In 1986 it co-sponsored a
business seminar with the Monterey Institute of International Studies, China Business
for Profit: Managing Key Cultural Issues. Although the event was well attended, CCF
failed to make the impact it had hoped for. The event did not generate much momentum
for follow-up activities and proved to be a dead end. A more successful program was
the Summer Youth Program on Chinese Culture and Heritage that was initiated by staff
in cooperation with Community Education Services in 1988. This popular program was
continued annually until 1994.

In 1989 there appeared to be a possible partial solution to CCF’s fiscal needs
when the Thomas Fong Enterprises proposed to establish a Museum of Chinese
American History on the premises. But after intense negotiations and planning for a
year and a half the project was scrapped due to limited available space at CCC for the
museum and some negative publicity based on misconceptions. (82) When the 15-year
lease with the City’s Neighborhood Arts Program expired on May 31, 1990, President
Lee led negotiations for CCF to continue the mutually beneficial relationship. At the end
of the year CCF received donations totaling $200,000 from Eva and Rolland Lowe to
establish the Lawrence and Eva Choy Lowe Endowment Fund. Since then, however,
progress on building up the endowment had been slow.

In 1989, the Chinese Historical Society of America initiated and co-sponsored
with Chinese Culture Foundation and Cheng Family Association of America to hold a
Chinese American Family HistorylGenealogy Symposium — the first such event held in
the San Francisco Bay Area. Just as planning was being finalized, the Loma Prieta
earthquake shook the San Francisco Bay Area and caused extensive damage. In spite
of this disturbance, however, the event was well attended. Following this favorable
response, CCF received a $10,000 grant that was implemented in a pilot program In
Search of Roots, co-sponsored with the Chinese Historical Society of America, the
Community Education Services (dropped out in 1994), and the Guangdong Province
Office of Overseas Chinese Affairs. With the successful conclusion of the pilot
program, In Search of Roots became an established annual program. Ten youths
between the ages of sixteen through twenty-five wishing to trace their ancestries to the
Pearl River Delta region in Guangdong Province were selected to be interns. Given
basic background information on Chinese American history as well as Chinese
geography and history, the interns researched their family histories under guidance,
visited their ancestral villages, and contributed their family trees and family histories
toward an exhibit at CCC. This program has proven to be effective in giving the
participants increased awareness of their heritage and their Chinese American identity.

President Emory Lee continued the ongoing reassessment of CCC operations,
and in 1987 the bylaws were amended once again to cut the number of directors to
thirty as of the 1989 annual meeting. The same year the CCF board reaffirmed the
mission enunciated at the 1984 meeting that the CCF’s chief focus should be on
educational actiities. The board appointed a strategic planning task force to develop a
clear definition of goals and objectives and a plan of action. The board also reexamined
and reorganized the facility for greater effectiveness. The position of executive director
was redefined, giving it responsibility for administrative and budgetary tasks. It was
further recommended that curatorial duties be delegated to a separate staff member. (83)

The implementation of the changes mandated by the 1987 CCF board proved to
be more complex and slower than anticipated. Tatwina Lee, who served as president
from 1989 through 1991, continued implementation of these changes. As the CCF
board carried out the reorganization of CCC, relations between the Executive Director
and the board became strained. This was exacerbated by personality conflicts between
Lim and key board members. After lengthy negotiations Lucy Lim submitted her
resignation to then President Tatwina Lee effective December 31, 1990, thus
culminating the process of changes that had been intiated during the term of President
Emory Lee in 1988!

Despite tense relations with the board during the latter part of the 1980s
Executive Director Lim had continued organizing major exhibitions on Chinese art and
culture that drew favorable reviews. These included Stories from China’s Past Han
Dynasty Pictorial Tomb Reliefs and Related Archaeological Objects from Sichuan
Province, People’s Republic of China (1987) and Wu Guanzhong, A Contemporary
Artist (1989), both of which also went on national tours after their premieres at the
CCC. Exhibits related to Chinese American history, art and culture included Myriad
Worlds: 200 Years of the Chinese in Hawaii (1990). After Lim’s departure her influence
was still evident in later exhibitions that she had been in the process of organizing
when she resigned. A major exhibit was Six Contemporary Chinese Women Artists
(1991-1992). Another was an exhibit of the works of a Chinese American artist,
Weyman Lew: Of Peoples and Places (1991). Another exhibit she had initiated was
Symbol and Adornment: Traditional Costumes and Jewelry of China’s Minorities (1991-
92). In this particular case, however, she enlisted the help of CCC’s first executive
director William Wu as curator. Symposia and lectures by experts in the field also were
coordinated with many of these exhibitions to educate the public.

After Lucy Lim’s resignation President Tatwina Lee and Executive Vice-
President Julie Chu filled in as interim co-executive directors until the board appointed
Beijing-born Kathleen Guan to the position on May 1, 1991. (84) Guan had received her
B.A. in English and Psychology from Southwestern University and her M.A. in
Education from Texas Wesleyan College. At the time of her appointment she was Asian
American community liaison for California State Senator Milton Marks.

Guan was the first CCC executive director who did not have expertise of either
Chinese art or Chinese culture. She had a pleasant personality that enabled her to
work well with people. From the beginning, however, she was frustrated by her inability
to raise much program money. She was soon overwhelmed by the demands of the
position and was unable to exert strong leadership to implement the board-mandated

In 1992 Theodore Kao succeeded Tatwina Lee as president. Kao was reelected
in 1993. Under leadership of the board, CCC planned and launched the first Dragon
Boat Festival in San Francisco. This 1992 event, held in Chinatown’s Portsmouth
Square, was attended by thousands. Unfortunately, construction in the park during the
succeeding year stymied a repeat of this promising new program.

During this period, there were great changes in the international arena. The Cold
War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. In Taiwan, martial law ended and
many restrictions on trade and travel between Taiwan and mainland China were
gradually lifted beginning in the late 1980s. This easing of tension in the Taiwan Straits
soon was reflected in Chinatown politics. In the 1990s the boycott by the traditional
associations had begun to relax. In June, 1992 Charity Cultural Services Center, an
agency affiliated with the Chinese Six Companies, co-sponsored with CCF to hold the
Chinatown outstanding father award program at CCC on Father’s Day. In 1993-1994
CCC was host to the first exhibition from Taiwan — Tradition and Innovation: The Art of
Au Ho-Nien. It appeared that CCF may finally be emerging from under the shadows of
political controversy and constraints to do what it does best; namely, to promote
Chinese culture and Chinese American culture.

In 1993, Kathleen Guan was absent from her post for a total of six months on
vacation and then on maternity leave. During her absence Manni Liu, CCC’s curator,
served as acting executive director. The Hong Kong-born Cantonese-speaking Liu was
raised in Ecuador. She received her B.A. in Art History from the University of California
at Los Angeles and her M.A. in Art History and Museum Studies from University of
Southern California. CCC had hired her as assistant curator soon after she had
received her M.A. in 1991. Despite her lack of administrative experience, Liu
demonstrated a leadership that earned her the respect of the CCC staff and the board.

Mei Lam succeeded Theodore Kao to the presidency in 1994. Soon afterward
Kathleen Guan went on leave due to illness in the family and then vacated the
executive director position on April 5, 1994 Manni Liu filled in again as acting
executive director. She also continued in her capacity as curator. A major exhibition,
Shiwan Ceramics: Beauty, Color, and Passion which she had planned and organized
opened at CCC. This was the first exhibition on this subject mounted in the United

After a search, the CCF board appointed John Seto to fill the post of Executive
Director effective December 5, 1994. Seto was born in Guangzhou (Canton), China and
raised in Sacramento, California. He received his B.A. in Art and Far Eastern
Humanities from California State University, Sacramento, and his Master of Philosophy
in Art and Archaeology of China from the University of London. He also attended the
College of Chinese Culture and worked at the national Palace Museum in Taiwan. At
the time he took the CCC position Seto was Director of the Ohio Joint Program in the
Arts and Humanities and Coordinator of Traditional and Ethnic Arts at the Ohio Arts
Council. He was fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. There are great
expectations as the new Executive Director assumed his duties with CCC to implement
the board-mandated changes, hopefully free at last from the political baggage and
encumbrances of the Cold War and the Chinese civil war.

Discussion and Conclusions
America’s economic prosperity during the post-war decades fostered the rapid
growth of a Chinese American middle class of businesspersons, professionals, and
technical personnel with interests firmly rooted in this country. In their desire to be
treated as equal partners in American society, they developed a group solidarity
expressed by a heightened sense of ethnic awareness and kindred feelings of
community. Increasing awareness among ethnic minorities in America during the Civil
Rights Movement in the 1960s forced mainstream American society to grudgingly
accept the idea of a multi-ethnic society. This development paved the way for members
of the Chinese American middle class interested in preserving their heritage to form a
coalition with non-Chinese who are interested in promoting Chinese culture. Those two
groups coalesced three decades ago to found Chinese Culture Foundation, which in
turn gave birth to the CCC.

At that time the founders had little precedent to follow and had only vague ideas
as to what form the final institution would take. (85) With the passage of time, CCC
eventually evolved into a cultural institution with distinctive characteristics and a
Chinese American orientation. However, as it developed, the direction and pace was
very much influenced by contemporary political, economic and social factors.

The founders were able to take advantage of the increased sensitivity toward
ethnic institutions at the time to successfully lobby and pressure politicians and
bureaucrats for approval and support of the construction project. A more difficult
obstacle was encountered in the Chinese community when the organization was
involuntarily drawn into the struggle between mainland China and Taiwan; the CCC
was attacked by Taiwan supporters in Chinatown as being pro-PRC. Despite the
dominating influence of pro-Taiwan forces in the Chinese community, CCF managed to
survive by using to advantage its connections to mainstream political institutions and
influential personalities to deflect and soften the effects of their attacks. However,
hostility from the Taiwan quarter, plus Cold War psychology, influenced the
community’s perception of CCF as left-leaning, and created a gap in understanding
between CCF and a large part of the Chinese community.

The situation was exacerbated by the fact that during CCC’s first two decades its
executive directors were trained in the fine arts. Many major activities were organized
in these areas since it was the path of least resistance, especially for raising funds.
This led many in the Chinese community to perceive that CCF assigned a higher
priority to the elite arts than to community activities. The fact that the interest of many
directors on the board also lean toward supporting the fine arts only reinforced that
perception. Another factor was that increasingly since the early 1970s most of the
board and staff lacked the language fluency to communicate with the Chinatown’s
Cantonese-speaking community. Many did not live in the Chinatown area and were
unfamiliar with its politics. Also a significant number of CCF-sponsored events,
programs, and exhibitions were designed primarily for CCF supporters who generally
were American-born and western-educated Chinese with greater English than Chinese
proficiency, as well as non-Chinese of the larger society. (This had also led CCF
activities to be in those areas of Chinese culture requiring sensory appreciation, but not
fluency in the language.)

Actually, since CCC was on the edge of Chinatown with a large Chinese
speaking population, it offered a number of activities targeted at this audience. Such
events were well attended but due to the aforementioned limitations of the institution, it
was difficult to develop channels of communication. For this reason, few in the Chinese
speaking community were persuaded that they should be other than passive recipients,
and participate actively in CCF. While the relaxation in tension between the PRC and
Taiwan in recent years had led to improved relations with the Chinese speaking
community, it is still a major task facing CCF to find a way to work with this community
and mobilize its considerable resources and talent to better fulfill its mission of
administering to the cultural and educational needs of the Chinese American

During the three decades since the founding of CCF and two decades since the
opening of CCC, the Chinese population in North America have greatly increased. A
number of Chinese culture centers and facilities have also sprung up to serve the
various Chinese communities. In Canada the government’s multi-cultural policy has led
to the establishment of a number of community-based Chinese cultural and community
centers. The first one, Chinese Cultural Centre of Vancouver, was organized in 1973
and its facility completed in 1980. (86) These facilities offered activities similar to that
offered in San Francisco’s CCC. In the United States a large network of cultural and
community centers in major Chinese communities was established and funded by the
Taiwan Commission of Overseas Chinese Affairs. The earliest of these opened in San
Francisco Chinatown in 1985. (87) These offer space to use for classes, cultural and
social events; some have small libraries and reading rooms. The Kuomintang also
operate another network of community centers on a smaller scale in many of the same
Chinese communities. Another category of community centers are those established by
Taiwanese (the descendants of Chinese who settled on Taiwan before World War II) to
promote Taiwanese language and culture. One of the earliest is the Taiwan Center
(established 1986) in Flushing, New York. (88) There also is the Taiwanese Community
Center in Houston (established 1992). (89) There are cultural and community centers
such as Boston’s Chinese Cultural Institute, (90) San Francisco American Chinese
Cultural Center (established 1986), (91) Visalia’s Central California Chinese Cultural
Center (established 1990), (92) and similar institutions in cities such as Dallas,
Washington, DC, and Atlanta (established 1989). (93) In the 1990s visiting scholars from
the PRC, concerned that their American-born offspring retain some of their Chinese
heritage, established a Chinese cultural center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (94) Some
centers organize full programs of cultural activities while others offer mainly a facility for

The basic objective of all of these institutions was to promote Chinese heritage
in an overseas setting, but there are great differences in the constituencies as well as
the focus. This only serves to demonstrate that Chinese culture covers a wide range of
subjects with many possibilities for variations in emphasis. Among all these cultural
facilities the Chinese Culture Foundation occupies a unique position in that, unlike
most of the other cultural institutions that focus exclusively on the Chinese community,
its target audience includes both Chinese and non-Chinese. It particularly deserves
special recognition as a trailblazer in introducing Chinese American art and culture to
Chinese Americans and mainstream America. It also played an important role
introducing modern developments in Chinese culture to the American public at a critical
juncture in history. Today the Chinese Culture Center as operated by the Chinese
Culture Foundation is a recognized and respected leader in the cultural field for its
innovative quality programs. In spite of its chronic fiscal problems and operational
weaknesses and mistakes, it has established itself as a major non-political, nonpartisan,
multi-functional, community-based facility.

As we review the history of the Chinese Culture Foundation and the Chinese
Culture Center, a striking fact is that many individuals, institutions and businesses
within and outside the Chinese community have contributed time, money and talent to
its evolution. It was only through their collective dedication, perseverance and faith that
the dream of a culture center was finally realized and its continued development
sustained. Today Chinese Americans and non-Chinese on the CCF board and the staff
continue to work together to ensure that the institution reaches out to both the Chinese
and the larger community to promote greater awareness and understanding of Chinese
and Chinese American culture. CCC continues to occupy a unique respected position
as one of the few ethnic cultural centers that consciously wedded the goals of heritage,
identity, community relations to the meaning of the arts and culture. The institution has
met and overcome many obstacles to achieve its present status. However, challenges
still lie ahead in its role to help American society to achieve a fuller understanding of
Chinese and Chinese American culture and to ensure that the Chinese heritage can
continue to develop and flourish in Chinese America as an integral part of a multicultural

Published on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of
the Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco
Copyright© 1995 by Him Mark Lai and Chinese Culture Foundation
Printing donated by Laser Discovery

(1) San Francisco Examiner, Aug. 14 to 18, 1967
(2) Ken Wong, “Fact Finding Committee’s Report: Six Companies’ White Paper Statement on Chinatown
Progress,” EastJWest, Oct. 11, 1967.
(3) A Manifesto by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association with regard to the Chinatown Youth Problem (Sept. 1, 1968).
(4) J. K. Choy (1892-1981) was born in Hawaii in 1892. Inspired by the Chinese Revolution he departed for the ancestral land at the age of twenty after graduating from high school. Shortly afterward, the
Guangdong provincial government sent him back to the United States to study law and political science
at Columbia University. After graduation Choy returned to China in 1916, and where he subsequently
served in various governmental posts. Choy came back permanently to the United States after World
War II. Still very interested in participation in social service and political and financial activities, he
became involved in the promotion of the One World organization for international peace shortly after he
landed. While on a visit to San Francisco in 1949, he was invited by editor Dai Ming Lee of the Chinese
World to participate in the organization of an English edition of the paper, making it the first bilingual
daily Chinese newspaper. Choy became a director of the newspaper from 1953 to 1955. From 1952 to
1953 he was general manager of the Wo Kee Company, then the oldest Chinese importing firm in San
Francisco Chinatown, and helped to reorganize the business. At the time the United States had imposed an embargo on trade with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Choy went to Hong Kong to
successfully negotiate with British and American trade representatives on the issuance of comprehensive “certificate of origin” to indicate that the merchandise did not come from the PRC. After his retirement at sixty-five from Wo Kee, he and his wife settled down in San Francisco.
In 1954-55 Choy became the first executive director of the anti-Chiang Kai-shek, anti-Communist
Crusade for Free Democratic China, Inc. He also became assistant vice-president at San Francisco
Savings and Loan Association. Recognizing the potential of deposits from the thrifty Chinese in the
Chinatown community, Choy began planning in 1956 the first branch to be established by a savings and
loan association in Chinatown. The branch opened operations in 1957 and was an instant success. By
the time Choy retired in 1971, deposits at the branch reached $60 million dollars, to top all Chinatown
financial institutions. Ref. Jun Ke Choy, My China Years: Practical Politics in China after the 1911
Revolution (San Francisco; EastJWest, 1974); Chinese Times, Jan. 1, 1972.
(6) Chinese World, June 22, 1960; San Francisco Examiner, June 26, 1960
(7) Chinese World, Feb. 26, 1963. Joe Yuey (1906- )was born in Kaiping County, China and emigrated to the United States in 1923. From humble beginnings in Central Valley towns he rose to become a
prominent leader in San Francisco Chinatown. In 1937 during the Sino-Japanese War he was one of
three Chinese in America that purchase $10,000 worth of Republic of China National Salvation Bonds.
In 1939 he joined in the formation of and became board chairman of a corporation formed by a group of
Chinatown merchants to participate in the Golden Gate International Exposition held on Treasure Island
in San Francisco Bay. When he was thirty-four he became the youngest person to be elected to serve
as president of the Suey Sing Labor and Merchants Association, a secret society headquartered in San
Francisco. He served the organization as president and vice-president for more than twenty terms.
During the late 1940s after World War II Joe Yuey was owner of the restaurant On On. In the early
1960s this became the site of Imperial Palace, one of the earliest upscale Chinese restaurants catering
to the middle class. In late 1949 Joe Yuey was one of a group that purchased the Chinese newspaper
Chung Sai Yat Po which became the first San Francisco Chinese newspaper voicing support for the
newly established People’s Republic of China (PRC). The paper ceased publication a year later when
PRC armed forces came to the succor of North Korea during the Korean War and engaged in hostilities
with troops under the command of US General MacArthur. Joe Yuey also was a well-known collector of
Chinese art. (Ref.: San Francisco Journal, Aug. 12, 1983.)
(8) Chinese Times, Apr. 6, 7, 1963; Sun Yat-sen News, Mar. 12, 1976; Amerasian Businews, Oct. 31, Nov. 7,1987. China-born Samuel Wong (1897-1987) was a teacher in his native Taishan. In 1924 he entered the US as secretary to the Chinese Consul-General in San Francisco. Moving to Quincy, Illinois in 1927 he spent the next thirty-one years as restaurateur, grocer, and farmer at various times and also made a small fortune through stock investments. Around 1958 Wong moved to San Francisco where he became wealthy through investments in real estate during a period of appreciating values. Wong passed away by his own hands after a prolonged illness.
(9) Announcement by City and County of San Francisco Director of Property Philip L. Rezos, ¬∑Sale of City Land,” dated Mar. 12, 13, 14, 1963; letter, Director of Property Philip L. Rezos to Mayor John H. Shelley, Mar. 30,1964; letter, Chief Administrative Officer Sherman P. Duckel to Leo A. Isaeff, President, United Nationalities of San Francisco, Apr. 1, 1964; Chinese Times, April 2, 1964. Mike Miller, “Meanwhile, Back in Chinatown the Inscrutable Chinese Cultural Center — It’s a Holiday Inn,” Bay Guardian, Mar. 28, 1972.
(10) Letter of Agreement, J. Francis Ward and SFGCCSA, Apr. 7, 1964
(11) Letter from irving J. Kahn, president, San Francisco Redevelopers, Inc., May 15, 1964
(12) Other members of the cultural committee included Joe Yuey, Irving Kriegsfeld, Rev. Kei Tin Wong,
James K. M. Hsieh, Prof. Joseph Esherick, Yvon d’Argence, Mrs. Katherine Field Caldwell, Prof. Shihhsiang Chen, Wellington L. Chew, Thomas W. Chinn, Ching Wah Lee, Nellie T. Quock, and H. K. Wong.
(13) San Francisco Chronicle, May 17, 19, 1964; Chinese Times, June 4, 1964; Agreement for Preliminary Architectural Services, San Francisco Redevelopers (working with San Francisco Greater Chinatown Association) and Campbell and Wong & Associates, Chan-Rader & Associates, July 15, 1964; letter, J. K. Choy for SFGCCSA to Norman R. Smith, Vice President of San Francisco Redevelopers, Inc., Dec. 24, 1964; letter, J. K. Choy for SFGCCSA to Mayor John F. Shelley, Jan. 20, 1965. More detailed
architectural plans were drawn up by Campbell & Wong & Associates, and Chan-Rader & Associates.
(14) San Francisco Board of Supervisors Resolution No. 124-65, Mar. 1, 1965; Chinese World, Mar. 3, 1965; letter, Justin Hermann, Executive Director, San Francisco Redevelopment Agency to San Francisco Board of Supervisors, June 15, 1965.
(15) San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 1, 1965; Chinese Pacific Weekly, Sept. 10, 1970; Mike Miller, “Meanwhile, Back in Chinatown the Inscrutable Chinese Cultural Center — It’s a Holiday Inn,” Bay Guardian, Mar. 28, 1972. The leading spirit of Justice Enterprises was Harold Moose, founder and head of Westem Business Fund, a small business investment company founded in 1959. In 1965 Harold Moose and a few associates, using Western Business Fund as their financier, created Justice Enterprises in order to bid for the Chinatown hotel project. When the Redevelopment Agency rejected Justice’s original bid, it reshuffled the corporation to allow Clement Chen to buy 40 percent of the stock with Justice retaining a 60 percent controlling interest. Chen then sold half of his interest to Alexander D. Calhoun. The group also created Justice Investors, into which was brought in twenty-two investors, in order to draw in more capital without losing control. The only Chinese investor among the limited partners was Fong and Tong, an accounting firm which was represented on the board in 1967 by George Fong. In 1970 Chinese American investors were said to have owned about fifteen percent share in the enterprise. Chen’s design originally called for a forty story skyscraper.
(16) Articles of Incorporation of Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco, Oct. 15, 1965.
(17) Special Edition: Chinese Culture Center Tenth Anniversary (San Francisco: Chinese Culture Foundation, 1968). The founders in the order listed in the articles of incorporation were Jun Ke Choy, Joe Yuey, Lim P. Lee, Joseph Quan, Paul Louie, James K. M. Hsieh, C. C. Huang, Guey Hong, Clarence Poon, Wu Taam, Salvatore Reina, Howard W. L. Choy, John D. LaPlante. Samuel Wong, Nellie Quack, Irving M. Kriegsfeld, Ronald C. Won, Fook Hong Ng, Man Faye Leong, Ching Wah Lee, Kim J. Ng, Foon Lim, Sang Der, Philip H. Fang, Sung Young, Howard Seeto, Paul F. Wu, Lorna Logan, Alan S. Wong, James Chuck, Stanley S. Tom, Larry Jack Wong, Quailand Tom and James R. Frolik, who processed the new corporation’s legal papers.
(18) Lease Agreement, Justice Investors and Chinese Culture Foundation, Nov. 21, 1967; press release from San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, Nov. 21, 1967.
(19) M. Justin Hermann, Report on Support and Involvement by Public and Private Interests in the Republic of China for the Chinese Cultural and Trade Center in San Francisco, Aug. 12, 1968; East-West, Dec. 11, 1968; Chinese Times, Dec. 12, 1968.
(20) East/West, Aug. 28, 1968.
(21) East/West, Jan. 24, 1968
(22) L. Ling-chi Wang, “A History of CM,” 3,4 in Chinese for Affirmative Action 1982 (San Francisco: Chinese for Affirmative Action, 1982); L. Ling-chi Wang, “Holiday Inn Jobs Still Uncertain,” EastlWest, Aug. 5, 1970.
(23) East/West, January 20, 1971
(24) Agreement, San Francisco Savings and Loan Association and Chinese Culture Foundation, Oct. 1, 1968
(25) Interview with Vivian Chiang, Sept. 6,1995.
(26) Resolution passed at CCF annual meeting, Apr. 29, 1969.
(27)Letter, J. K. Choy to William Wu, Feb. 3, 1969; letter, William Wu to J. K. Choy, Feb. 12, 1969. Wu was from Hong Kong. Wu received his A.B. in Philosophy and Ph. D. in Art and Archaeology, all from
Princeton University.
(28) Chinese Times, Nov. 20, 1971.
(29) Chinese World, Sept. 6, 1969; East-West, Sept. 30, 1970.
(30) United Journal, Sept. 9, 1970. In that same meeting San Francisco’s Doon Wong also made a
presentation asking support for fund-raising to remodel the Chinese Six Companies and to construct two pailou gates. He also received the board’s approval in principle.
(31) Chinese Times, Sept. 25, 1970; L. Ling-chi Wang, “Six Companies Withdraw Backing for Culture
Foundation,” EastlWest, Sept. 30, Oct. 7, 1970.
(32) Chinese Times, Oct. 12, 13, 14, 1966. The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco which guaranteed the deposits had to run advertisements in Chinatown newspapers on Oct. 13, 14 to reassure depositors that their money was safe.
(33) Chinese Times, Apr. 4, 1969.
(34) Mon War Weekly, Aug. 13, 1971.
(35) Don Canter, “Chinese Culture Finds a Home–Finally,” San Francisco Examiner, Jan. 28, 1973
(36) Ken Wong, “Cultural Meeting a Puzzle,” EastlWest, Aug. 26, 1970; Chinese Pacific Weekly, Aug. 27, 1970; “Sanfanshi Zhongguo Wenhua Jijinhui wei Zhonghua Zong Huiguan chexiao qian yijue zanzhu’an jinggao qiaobao shu (Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco, “Open letter to the Chinese community on the Chinese Six Companies revocation of its previously passed resolution of support”), Oct. 7, 1970.
(37) Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco, “Open letter to the Chinese community on the Chinese Six Companies revocation of its previously passed resolution of support,” Oct. 7, 1970; Chinese Times, Oct. 8, 1970; Chinese Pacific Weekly, Oct. 8, 1970. Doon Wong or Wong Yen Doon was a dominant figure in the Nationalist Party of China in the United States. He was one of the founders and served several terms as president of the Chinese Anti-Communist League in America. At various times he headed the Bing Kung Tong, the Wong Family Association and other Chinatown traditional associations. He also appointed a member of the central committee and then member of the advisory member of the Chinese Nationalist Party. He also was member of the presidium of the National Assembly and member of the Committee on Overseas Chinese Affairs of the Legislative Yuan in Taiwan as well as Advisor on National Policy to the Presidency. (Ref.: Huang Renjun (Doon Wong), 88 zishu (An account in his own words at age of eighty-eight). Foo Hum was a Chinatown merchant who played a leading role in anti-Communist, pro-Taiwan activities during this period.
(38) East/West, Nov. 4,1970.
(39) East/West, Dec. 18, 1968; July 30, Aug. 20, 27, 1969; Corrie M. Anders, “Gordon Lau Know Bias, But It’s Getting Better Now,” San Francisco Examiner, Dec. 7, 1977. In 1969 candidate Lau called Chinatown a gilded slum with numerous social problems and proposed a multi-purpose information center in Chinatown to provide counseling and social services to the unemployed, the elderly, and the juvenile jobseeker. That same year he also became counsel for the Golden Gate Neighborhood Grocers
Association, formed to pressure the city to provide more police protection for Chinese grocers. He also
spoke out against a proposal backed by the union to zone out garment factories in Chinatown. Lau was
one of the young Chinese Americans who took over the reins of leadership in the Chinese American
Democratic Club during the late sixties. He became its president in 1970.
(40) Chinese Times, Jan. 1, 1972
(41) Due to Chinatown issues and problems that were surfacing with great frequency in the press at the time, a few leaders in the Chinese community prevailed upon San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto to appoint a fact-finding committee in mid-1968. The co-chairs were Lim P. Lee, Albert Lim, and H. K. Wong; Project Coordinator was Alessandro Baccari. The 67-member committee, which eventually expanded to more than 300 persons as committee and sub-committee members or as advisors, were predominantly western-educated English-speaking professionals and businesspersons. It commenced work on June 12, 1968 and submitted an 834-page report on April 21, 1969. The report was abridged and published on Aug. 15, 1969 as A Report of the San Francisco Chinese Community Citizens’ Survey and Fact Finding Committee (Abridged Edition). Although most of the recommendations in the report were never implemented the investigations help achieve better understanding of the contemporary San Francisco Chinese community.
(42) After 1969 the activist faction controlled CADC. In 1969 the president was Alan Wong and in 1970, Gordon Lau, followed by Gimmy Park Li and Lambert T. Choy in 1971 and 1972 respectively. Ling-chi Wang was vice president in 1970 and president in 1974 to 1976. James Hsieh was Chinese secretary in 1969 and 1970 while Joe Yuey filled the position in 1971. All these members at one time or another were CCF board members.
(43) Mon War Weekly, Aug. 13, 1971
(44) East-West, Oct. 2, Nov. 20, 27, 1968; John Burke, “Chinatown’s Bridge of 1000 Controversies: San Francisco Examiner, July 27,1971.
(45) Fook Chong Hong Friendly Society, Ning Yung Benevolent Association, Sam Yup Benevolent
Association, Young Wo Association, Hip Sing Association, Suey Sing Association, Ying On Association
were the only traditional associations that donated to the CCF. Even as late as the early 1990s Chinese Culture Center was not included among Chinatown organizations listed in a major publication San Francisco Chinatown Etiquette (San Francisco: San Francisco Chinatown Etiquette Committee, 1991) that was distributed to Chinatown associations.
(46) East/West, May 31, August 9, 1972
(47) CCF resolution authorizing borrowing of money from Hong Kong Bank of California, Oct. 18, 1972; CCF resolution authorizing borrowing of money from Bank of the Orient, Oct. 18, 1972; Chinese Times, Jan. 12,1973, item announcing loan from Bank of America.
(48) Bay Guardian, May 28, 1972
(49) San Francisco magazine, July 1972
(50) San Francisco Examiner, Jan. 28, 1973; San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 19, 1973
(51) Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco Newsletter, Vol. I (Sept. 1971)
(52) The Shanghai-born Chiang was a music major at Beijing’s Yanjing University.
(53) Chiang Ching was trained in the Beijing Dance Academy from 1956 to 1961. She left for Hong Kong in 1962. For the next few years she was an actress in Hong Kong and Taiwan films. In 1970 she
immigrated into the US and established her own dance troupe in New York three years afterward. In
1980 Chiang was invited to visit the PRC to give a modern dance demonstration program. In 1989 she
emigrated with her family from the United States to Sweden. Ref. Chiang Ching, Wangshi, wangshi,
wangsi (Bygone times, past events, reminiscences) (Hong Kong: Cosmos Books Ltd., 1992), passim.
(54) Letter, Attorney Jack Wasserman to J. K. Choy, May 17, 1971. Lien Ying Kuo entered the US as a visitor from Taiwan in 1966. While in this country he demonstrated and instructed the art of tai chi chuan to many groups. He also established a School of Chinese Pugilism at 11 Brenham (Walter U. Lum) Place in San Francisco. After his visa expired CCF helped him and his family to gain permanent residence in this country.
Tai chi chuan was first introduced to the United States by Choy Hock Pang in 1939 and gradually
became popular in the Chinese American community. But for many years mainstream America was still
unfamiliar with the exercise. It was Kuo and another master Zheng Manqing who popularized tai chi
chuan in American mainstream society in the late 1960s. Ref. Cai Ce, “Taijiquan de shijie (The world of
tai chi chuan): Zhongyang ribao, Jan. 4-6, 1968.
(55) East/West, January 19, Feb. 2, 1972.
(56) CCF, Report to the San Francisco Foundation of Our Cultural Activities from November 30, 1971 to
November 30, 1972.
(57) Chinese Times, Nov. 17, 1972; EastNo/est, Nov. 22,1972.
(58) Chinese Pacific Weekly, Mar. 1, 1973. It was alleged that the board was split regarding the proper
Chinese term to use for San Francisco. Many Chinese American board members preferred the more
familiar local term Sanfanshi while Executive Director Wu and others pushed for Jiujinshan, Caucasian
board members became the swing votes deciding upon the more universally used latter term.
(59) Resolution No 16, Annual Kuomintang Conference, Aug. 1973.
(60) Advertisement, Chinese Times, Mar. 20,1974; advertisement, Sing Tao Daily, Apr. 3, 1974.
Following are some articles attacking CCF and CCC: Nong, “Tantan Zhonghua Wenhua Jijinhui (A
discussion on the Chinese Culture Foundation) A discussion on the Chinese Culture Foundation),”
Chinese Times, Mar. 12, 1974; Zhang Benli, “An open letter to Dennis Wong [one of the CCF board of
directors], Young China, Mar. 23, 25, 1974; Huang Xi, “After reading ‘A discussion on the Chinese
Culture Foundation,’” Chinese Times, Apr. 10, 1974; Gongsun Mou, “Ram’s Head; Dog Meat,” Cathay
Times, Apr. 3, 1974; Huang Zhuofen, “Du Jiujinshan Zhonghua Wenhua Jijinhui zhengzhi falU lichang
qishi yihou (After reading the CCF of San Francisco announcement about its political and legal status),”
Young China, Apr. 12, 1974; Nong, “Zaitan Zhonghua Wenhua Jijinhui (A discussion again on the
Chinese Culture Foundation,” Chinese Times, April 16, 1974; Ma Beigong, “Yu Jiujinshan Zhonghua
Wenhua Jijinhui tantan Zhonghua wenhua (A discussion on Chinese culture with CCF of San
Francisco),” Chinese Times, April 23 to 25, 1974; Yu Jifu, “Ye tan Zhonghua Wenhua Zhongxin (Also a
discussion on CCC), Chinese Times, Apr. 26 to 30, 1974.
Some newspaper articles defending CCF are as follows: Editorial, “What Constitutes Chinese culture?”
East/vVest, Mar. 20, 1974; Jingnan, “Suibi (Informal essay), Chinese Pacific Weekly, Apr. 11, 1974; Li
Hanling, “Zhonghua Wenhua Zhongxin yu Zhonghua wenhua (CCF and Chinese culture), San Francisco
Weekly, Apr. 17, 24, 1974; Huang Yunji, “Zhonghua Wenhua Zhongxin yu Zhonghua wenhua (CCF and
Chinese culture), San Francisco Journal, Apr. 24, 1974.
(61) Chinese Pacific Weekly, May 2, 1974.
(62) Letter, Katherine Wang to William Wu, May 6, 1974; San Francisco Weekly, July 3, 1974.
(63) San Francisco Journal, May’ 22, 1974.
(64) Richard Springer, “Culture Center: Attorney Davis Charges Political Interference,” EastNo/est, July 3, 1974; Nong, “Zhonghua Wenhua Zhongxin zhi zhikong (CCF’s accusations),” San Francisco Chronicle,
June 27,1974; Chinese Times, June 27, July 2,1974.
(65) Chinese Pacific Weekly, July 11,1974; EastNo/est, July 17,1974.
(66) Chinese Times, Dec. 5, 1974, Jan 1, 2, 1975
(67) Chinatown Council for the Performing and Visual Arts brochure (n.d.). The founding organizations were Asian Living Theater, Bay Area Chinese Art Club, Chinese Classical Music Club, Chinese Culture
Foundation, Chinese Folk Dance Association, Chinese Media Committee, Flowing Stream Ensemble,
Kearny Street Workshop, Mandarin Photographic Club, Chinese Community Chamber Orchestra, and
Chinatown Photographic Society.
(68) East/West, Aug. 8, 1973.
(69) CCF Board Meeting Minutes, Dec. 10, 1975; May 26, 1976.
(70) Interview with Vivian Chiang, Sept. 6, 1995
(71) CCF Board Meeting Minutes, Dec. 10, 1975; May 26, 1976
(72) CCF Executive Committee Meeting Minutes, Apr. 28, June 23, 1976; CCF Board Meeting Minutes, May 26, 1976; interview with Vivian Chiang, Sept. 6, 1995.
(73) CCF Board Meeting Minutes, Dec. 1, 1977
(74) CCF Board Meeting Minutes, Dec. 10, 1975; Lawrence Jue, My Meoirs (manuscript, 1995)
(75) CCF Board Meeting Minutes, May 26, August 25, 1976.
(76) CCF Board Meeting Minutes, Sept. 24, 1975.
(77) Master Plan Committee Draft (Summer, 1977).
(78) Letters, Rosalyn Koo, to Martin Snipper, Feb. 1, 1978, Mar. 1, 1978.
(79) Chinese Culture Center Newsletter, winter 1979, summer 1980
(80) The cities were San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York in the US; Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Montreal in Canada.
(81) CCF Board Meeting Minutes, Oct. 31, 1984
(82) Letter, Thomas and Ronald Fong to Tatwina Lee, CCF President, May 9, 1994. A letter to the editor from E. Chann attacking the proposed museum was published in Asian Week, May 4, 1990.
(83) Attachment C, “Strategic Planning Task Force, CCF board meeting minutes, May 27,1987.
(84) Guan was a student from Beijing in the PRC. She received her B.A. in English and Psychology from
Southwestern University and her M.A. in Education from Texas Wesleyan College.
(85) China Institute (established 1926) of New York City was a similar existing. The original objectives of the institute was to promote better understanding of China through education, service and exchanges. For many years the principal targets of the institution’s activities were members of mainstream society and Chinese students and scholars from abroad. After World War II, especially since the 1970s, the institute also targeted the Chinese American community in its programs. When J. K. Choy came to the US from China he lived in New York City, where his sons and two daughters were attending universities, from 1945 to 1949. Thus whether the work of the institute played a role in inspiring the founding of CCF is an interesting question. Certainly there are many similarities in the objectives and activities of the two institutions.
(86) “1973-1988 Major Events,” Chinese Cultural Centre 15th Anniversary (Vancouver, BC: Chinese Cultural Centre of Vancouver, 1988), 14-29. In other communities, the Edmonton Chinatown Multi-Cultural Centre was completed in 1985; the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre was established in 1983 and the facility completed in 1987; the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre Association was founded in 1982 and the facility completed in 1992.
(87) “Sanfa fuwu de guang yu re (Spreading out the light and warmth of service,” Haihua Zazhi, No. 86 (Mar. 1992), 8-21; Gao Shufen, “Zhonghua wenhua de bozhongzhe: huaqiao wenjiao fuwu zhongxin (Facilities that sow the seeds of Chinese culture: the overseas Chinese cultural and educational services centers,” Haihua Zazhi, July 1988, 29-39. This network is worldwide. The first was founded in Bangkok, Thailand in 1984. Centers in the US are in Los Angeles (facility in Chinatown established 1985; a second facility in EI Monte in the suburbs serving chiefly immigrants from Taiwan opened in 1992), Flushing (1986), Houston (1987), Sunnyvale in the San Francisco Bay Area (1988), Chicago (1989), Boston (1991). Besides this there are similar facilities in Sydney, Australia (1984); Manila, Philippines (1986); Paris, France(1988) and Melbourne, Australia (1988).
(88) Centre Daily News, June 27,1986.
(89) Taiwanren shequ gaikuang (Survey of the Taiwanese community [in Houston]) (Houston: Taiwanese Association of America, Houston Chapter, 1993).
(90) Christopher Kenneally, “Boston Institute: A Center for Chinese Arts,” Chinatown News, Oct 3,1985.
Centre Daily News, Feb. 20, 1986.
(91) Centre Daily News, Feb. 20, 1986
(92) The Central California Chinese Cultural Center (Visalia: Central California Chinese Culture Center,
(93) Haihua zazhi, June 22, 1994
(94) Sampan, Nov. 18, 1994