SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- "2023 has not been a happy year," former judge Lillian K. Sing said at an evening gala celebration held by China Institute in San Francisco Bay Area, California, to honor outstanding Chinese American women in business, media, arts, and social fields.
Sing, one of the twelve women who were awarded as "Women Who Dared" on Thursday, was the first Asian American female judge in Northern California, a milestone for diversity in the U.S. judiciary.
Noting that she should not talk about something very heavy as overseas Chinese around the world had been celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year, Sing said she was shocked by the recent mass shootings in California's Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park.
She was so sad that "so many crimes have already happened" in the new year, leaving dozens of people dead in the state alone, said Sing, who in recent years has been at the forefront of the movement to combat the increasing violence and discrimination against Asian Americans.
"I must talk about hate crimes in the United States. It has risen so much. It's such a difficult place for many of us in the United States today," she noted.
Serving as co-chair of the "Comfort Women" Justice Coalition, Sing is also a strong voice on the issue. She called for greater recognition and compensation for these women and has worked to raise awareness about the ongoing struggle for justice and recognition for the survivors. She is also a founding member of the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition.
Sing said that although she did not know all the honorees at the event, "there's one thing that we are all united tonight ... We are all made in China! I'm proud I'm made in China." Her remarks were echoed by lasting cheers from the audience.
Among the honorees were actress and film director Joan Chen; venture capitalist Sarah Guo; Phoebe Chen Huang, chair of Roundtable of Southern California Chinese American Organizations; BYD Americas CEO Stella Li; philanthropist Gorretti Lo Lui; Chrissy Luo, co-founder of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute; actress and model Maggie Q; Sally Shi, co-founder of Scalable Vision Capital; judge Lillian K. Sing; principal dancer of San Francisco Ballet Yuan Yuan Tan; Margaret Wong, McWong International Inc president and CEO; Bing Wu, producer and founder of DMG Entertainment.
"Tonight we are here to celebrate the talents of women in every field of human endeavor, every area of society around the world," said Yue-Sai Kan, co-chair of China Institute, a U.S.-based non-profit organization dedicated to deeper understanding of China through programs in language, education, art, culture and business.
"In the atmosphere today of such anti-Asian hatred, I want to highlight their contribution to our communities ... It's a star-studded group of honorees," said Kan, who is also an Emmy Award-winning television host and producer, adding that she looked forward to doing something wonderful for great causes with them.
As part of the celebration, the awarding ceremony highlighted a group of outstanding culinary experts and chefs to be Goodwill Ambassadors for China Institute's new culinary center to help Americans better understand China through Chinese culinary programs.
According to Sing, Chinese cuisine culture can "touch" the hearts and souls of everybody. She called it the "diplomacy of Chinese cuisine."
"You know what helped China-U.S. friendship was Pingpong diplomacy in the 1970s. Today we have Chinese cuisine," she said. ■