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Seattle’s geographic position as the closest continental U.S. port to China has contributed to a long standing interest in the country and people of China. Trade moving between the U.S. and China through the Port of Seattle magnified this interest, and it was not long before Seattle became a first point of contact for Chinese visiting and/or migrating to Washington State.
Many symbols of Seattle’s Chinese friendship are evident here: plants and shrubs indigenous to China and brought to Seattle, the Seattle Asian Art Museum with one of the finest collections of Chinese art, the future Chinese garden in West Seattle, and the large number of people of Chinese ancestry residing and working in the Pacific Northwest.
In 1916 in recognition of Seattle’s unique and special relationship with China, Julean H. Arnold, a former U.S. Commercial Attaché in China, enlisted the support of 27 Seattle professional and business community leaders to organize the China Club of Seattle as a business and humanitarian entity.
In its long history, the China Club has successfully pursued its purpose. For example, in 1919 it gained the financial support of Seattle businesses for 25 annual scholarships for Chinese students to come to Seattle for vocational training and study internships. It prodded the State legislature into granting scholarships at the University of Washington for students from various nations prior to Fulbright and other Federal exchange programs.
The Club was instrumental in providing financial aid for over 4,000 Chinese students in the U.S. at the time of the 1948 upheaval in China. The Club was a front runner in the fight for repealing the Chinese Exclusion Laws. Its members have helped and organized others to meet and welcome 15,000 transient Chinese entering the U.S. through Seattle and Vancouver.
The China Club is dedicated to providing a continuing program of information, education, and fellowship to enhance mutual understanding. The membership of the Club consists of people both of Chinese and non-Chinese ancestry from the professions, businesses and academe; people who have traveled, lived and worked in China; and, people with widely varying interest and points of view who share a common awareness of the importance of getting to know one another.
The China Club welcomes new members. The cost of membership is kept low so that all who wish to may join. During the year, bimonthly meetings have included informal social activities, education programs and artistic performances. Events take place at various Chinese restaurants in the area and are modestly priced.