SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Former Governor Gary Locke of the U.S. state of Washington on Saturday commended the huge contribution by Chinese Americans to the United States while warning against a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment in the country.
In a speech delivered at the inauguration of United Chinese Americans Washington Chapter (UCAWA) in Bellevue, Washington state, Locke recalled Chinese Americans' contributions to the success of the United States, as early as the key role of Chinese laborers in building the first U.S. transcontinental railroad that boosted American development and prosperity.
He also spoke of the first Chinese American trained in Massachusetts Institute of Technology who became the Boeing company's first aeronautical engineer in 1916.
"In every field from the arts to the sciences, from business to entertainment, politics to sports, Chinese Americans have contributed mightily to America," said Locke, who is a Chinese American himself.
Locke was also a former U.S. ambassador to China, and was secretary of commerce under President Barack Obama's administration.
In the meanwhile, he slammed an emerging anti-immigrant tendency in U.S. politics.
"Today, we're seeing a return to anti-immigrant sentiment in America, and it's now targeting the Chinese," he said.
While referring to the history of Japanese Americans who were put into internment camps during World War II, Locke blasted the anti-immigrant policy of the U.S. government, saying "President (Donald) Trump has enacted policies that would exclude people from countries where Islam is the predominant religion."
He repeatedly emphasized the importance of diversity to U.S. society. "The strength of America is our diversity of people, cultures, customs, languages, and perspectives of all colors," he said.
He urged Chinese Americans and other Asian Americans to get more engaged in politics to defend their rights.
"We have achieved an outsized impact in business, science, and arts and academia that greatly exceeds our numbers," Locke said.
"If Chinese Americans and Asian Americans are to protect our successes and our constitutional rights, we need more Asian elected officials," he said.
"This is a land of immigrants and our strength as a nation comes from our diversity," Locke said.
United Chinese Americans is a nationwide non-profit, non-partisan federation dedicated to empowering Chinese American communities through civic engagement, political participation, heritage sharing, youth development and a greater understanding between the United States and China, it said on its website.