CHP-136-Wong Chin Foo

Once again after an almost record-setting gap in the action, we look at a great but unknown Chinese American, Wong Chin Foo (王清福). Though not a well-known person from history, he nonetheless played a major role during the 1880’s and 1890’s fighting against the racist anti-Chinese immigration laws passed by the U.S. Congress. Author Scott Seligman’s book, The First Chinese American tells the whole story of Wong Chin Foo and his times.  In this episode we examine the highlights of this remarkable life.


Wong Chin Foo 王清福

Wong Yen Ping 王彦平 Another name Wong Chin Foo went by

Judy Chu  赵美心 U.S. Representative from California’s 27th Congressional District

I.M. Pei 贝聿铭 Chinese American architect (born in Guangzhou)

An Wang王安 Co founder of Wang Laboratories and great engineer (born in Shanghai)

Nancy Kwan关家蒨1960’s actress (born in  Hong Kong)

Yo-yo Ma马友友 One of the greatest cellists of his age (born in France)

Anna Sui  萧志美  Fashion Designer (born in Detroit)

Vivienne Tam谭燕玉 Fashion designer (born in Guangzhou)

Vera Wang  王薇薇 Fashion designer (born in New York City)

Charles Wang  王嘉廉CA Associates International co-founder (born in Shanghai)

Amy Tan谭恩美 Writer (born in Oakland)

Charles K. Kao高锟 The “father of fiber optics”. Won the 2009 Nobel in physics (born in Shanghai)

T.D. Lee  李政道 Won Nobel in Physics in 1957 (born in Shanghai)

Samuel C.C. Ting丁肇中 Won Nobel Prize in 1976 in Physics (born in Ann Arbor)

Steven Chu  朱棣文 Won Nobel Price in Physics 1997. US Secretary of Energy 2009-13. (born in St. Louis)

Gary Locke骆家辉  Former Washington State governor and US ambassador to China

Yung Wing  容闳 First Chinese to graduate from a US university (1854) (from Guangdong, Xiangshan)

Norman Assing袁生 Community leader in San Francisco’s Chinatown

Ng Poon Chew伍盤照  Started the first Chinese language newspaper in the US. (born in Taishan)

Wang王 Surname (means “king”) pronounced Wong in Cantonese

Huang黄 Surname (means “yellow”) pronounced Wong in Cantonese

Shandong山东  Province in China

Wong Sa Kee王缓祺 Wong Chin Foo’s earliest name

Qingdao青岛 Beautiful coastal city in Shandong

Daoguang Emperor道光帝 Qing dynasty emperor during Opium Wars

Jimo即墨City of Wong Chin Foo’s birth, just north of Qingdao

Yantai  烟台 Coastal city in Shandong

Zhifu芝罘Early name for Yantai

Penglai蓬莱  City in north Shandong, formerly called Dengzhou

Dengzhou登州  Present day Penglai, where Wong Chin Foo lived

Zhenjiang镇江  City on the Yangzi River in Jiangsu

Xianfeng Emperor咸丰帝  Qing Dynasty emperor

Hua Mei Xin Bao  华美新报 The Chinese American, Wong’s first paper.



  • Damn! How does he do it? Another fascinating entry regarding U.S./China interaction in the form of a single individual.

    What I’d like to hear more about is the Mandarin/Cantonese cultural & intellectual schism. Both in the U.S., China and elsewhere in the world. I realize it might be rather hard to do w/o slouching into rather uncertain internal Chinese cultural prejudices. On the other hand, its certainly possible to discuss in an intelligent & definitive manner the distinct cultural split in the U.S. between the South and remainder of U.S. existing well into the 1970’s/80’s.

  • some sounds of that uncut podcast should have been circumcised. but the story itself is fancastic as usual! thank you sir!
    regards from Siberia! we do have this nazi-exclusion talks a lot lately, but no Wong Ching Fu yet. Confucius Institute seems to be sitting on their hands.

    • Thanks Fyodor…alas, the Moyl was traveling that day so the uncircumsised version got uploaded instead. It’s all fixed now. I’m most happy to have a listener in Siberia.

  • It was very interesting to hear the uncut version. I wasn’t sure what was going on at first.

    I really like these podcasts that focus on one person. It makes that time period come alive.

    —Ben from Japan

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