Elaine Chao

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Elaine Chao

Template:TOCnestleft Elaine Chao is the the 24th U. S. Secretary of Labor who served from 2001-2009. On January 31, 2017, she was confirmed as the 18th U.S. Secretary of Transportation.


An immigrant who arrived in America at the age of eight speaking no English, Secretary Chao received her citizenship at the age of 19. H

As the first U. S. Secretary of Labor in the 21st century, Elaine Chao "focused on increasing the competitiveness of America’s workforce by restructuring department programs to empower workers and modernizing regulations to respond to the realities of the 21st century workplace. Under her leadership, the U.S. Department of Labor achieved record results in protecting the health, safety, wages, and retirement security of the nation’s workforce."

Secretary Chao’s distinguished career spans the public, private and non-profit sectors. As President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America, she "restored public trust and confidence in one of our nation’s premier charitable institutions after it had been tarnished by financial mismanagement and abuse"

As Director of the Peace Corps, she established the first programs in the newly liberated Baltic nations and the independent states of the former Soviet Union. Her government service also includes serving as Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, Deputy Maritime Administrator, and White House Fellow. Prior to her government service, she was Vice President of Syndications at BankAmerica Capital Markets Group and a banker with Citicorp in New York.

Secretary Chao earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School and an economics degree from Mount Holyoke College. Recognized with innumerable awards for her public and community service, she is the recipient of 36 honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities across the globe.

Secretary Chao is a resident of Kentucky. Prior to her appointment as Secretary of Transportation, she was a Distinguished Fellow at the Hudson Institute.

She is the eldest of six daughters of Dr. James S.C. Chao and the late Mrs. Ruth Mulan Chu Chao.

Elaine Chao is married to Mitch McConnell.[1]


Elaine Chao, the U.S. secretary of Labor, led protests against the Cox Report on Chinese espionage in America, which she described as "racist."

Secretary Chao is a Taiwanese immigrant.

Elaine Chao's father, James S.C. Chao, was a school friend of China's President Jiang Zemin at Shanghai's Jiao Tong University in Shanghai. He remains in regular contact with President Jiang. James Chao escaped to Taiwan, moved on to the United States, where he was joined by his family, including Elaine, then 8. He now lives between New York and Shanghai as founder of the highly successful ship brokerage and agency Foremost Maritime Corp. It does most of its business with the Beijing government.

Elaine Chao is married to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and also was director of an insurance company that jointly owns a Lippo Group subsidiary with the Chines government. Lippo, it may be recalled, is controlled by the Riady family and was at the center of the Clintons' Chinagate fundraising scandal.

U.S. Senate documents made public in 2001 showed Mitch McConnell's wife, Elaine, had been, for the preceding four years, a board member of the Birmingham, Alabama based Protective Life Corp., holding 7,000 shares. Protective Life is associated with Chinese insurance companies in Indonesia and China, including China Resources Holdings Co., an intelligence-gathering front for China's PLA.[2]

China ties

Ms Chao's Shanghai-born father is James Chao, whose mother was from the Chu family that built a shipping empire in Hong Kong. Mr Chao attended Shanghai's Jiaotong University with future President Jiang Zemin before working in the prominent China Maritime Trust Limited shipping company, which was founded by Mr Tung's father, the late Tung Chao-yung, more than 50 years ago and is now known as the Orient Overseas Container Line. The company shifted to Taiwan as the communists seized Shanghai in 1949, and the Chaos and the Chus followed.

Ms Chao was born on the island in 1953, eight years before the family emigrated to the US, where her father formed the Foremost Maritime Corporation. Having done much business with Taiwan, Mr Chao shifted the centre of his Asian operations to Hong Kong following the presidential victory of Lee Teng-hui in 1988 - a sign that native-born Taiwanese interests were on the rise.

He ordered two ships to be built at the state-owned shipyard in Shanghai during Mr Jiang's tenure as mayor. He started meeting Mr Jiang regularly, including three months after the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, when most other American businessmen were avoiding the leadership. Later Mr Chao's business ties to Beijing would deepen as he started chartering his ships to mainland giants, such as Cosco and Sinotrans.

By this time, Mr Chao's daughter was rising in prominence in Republican and Asian-American circles, building a reputation as a formidable fund-raiser - a vital skill in the US political money-go-round - and serving as Peace Corps director in the administration of Mr Bush's father, former president George Bush.

Her social ties with Mr McConnell deepened and contributions started flowing from the Chao family and associates to his campaign coffers. The senator had started to shift from a hawkish stance aligned with arch-conservative Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jesse Helms to more moderate positions. After the 1994 senatorial elections, Mr McConnell took over the helm of the influential foreign-operations and export-financing subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee. It was a role which proved a magnet for future corporate donations from members of the US-China Business Council.

Mitch McConnell started reflecting the concerns of Asian-American elites over Hong Kong as he pushed provisions to expand immigration and became pro-trade. He launched the US-Hong Kong Policy Act to enshrine an active Washington relationship with the post-handover SAR - including a provision to allow for continued imports of strategic hi-tech imports into Hong Kong.

Ms Chao and Mr McConnell married in February 1993, and in December the pair met Mr Jiang in Beijing, joined by Ms Chao's father. Mr McConnell was the second Republican Senator to meet Mr Jiang since Tiananmen, a move which helped him build ties with senior mainland envoys in the US.

In October 1997, shortly after the handover, the couple privately met Mr Jiang again, this time in Washington. A month earlier, they had attended a private dinner with Mr Tung on his first post-handover mission to the US capital.

A year earlier, Ms Chao had been named a fellow at the Heritage Foundation - the same year it opened an office in Hong Kong. Publishing no policy outlines or position papers, Ms Chao was largely a fund-raiser, escorting the foundation's major donors to the handover ceremony.

According to writer John Judis, Elaine Chao made clear she was a proponent of 'Greater China' and keen to push the pro-engagement line. He also links Ms Chao to the dismissal of Richard Fisher, an expert on the mainland military who was then head of the foundation's Asian Studies Centre. A hawk who warned of China's military build-up and regional challenge to the US, he was dismissed within two weeks of first briefing of Ms Chao.

But Mr Feulner retorted the foundation had simply 'replaced one hardline director with another' - Larry Wortzel, an assistant army attache at the US Embassy in Beijing during the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.

Elaine Chao served on the board of the Multa Communications Corporation, a Californian Internet start-up, known as Multacom. The company runs direct Internet links between the mainland and the US in a joint venture with China Unicom. Her role did not appear in official disclosure documents filed before taking up her latest role in the Bush cabinet.

A spokesman for Ms Chao reportedly described the lack of disclosure as an inadvertent omission. He stated Ms Chao was only on the board briefly and 'never received any money from the company, and her only involvement was one half-hour conference call.

The centrist policies of the administration of former president Bill Clinton made inroads into the traditional Republican corporate fiefdom, but the party retains the pro-business edge. Mr Clinton's effort to normalise the trading relationship with China as part of its future entry to the World Trade Organisation was pushed through largely by a prominent Republican voting block.

Many of the Bush team have prominent business - if not Wall Street - backgrounds, including Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. Tax cuts, controversial environmental policies and increases in military budgets find favour with American business lobbies.

The controversy has been most keenly felt in the southern state of Kentucky, which Mr McConnell represents in the Senate. The Courier-Journal newspaper of Louisville gave extensive coverage to The New Republic piece, saying Mr McConnell had to answer legitimate public questions over his Chinese connections.

Saying he had to respond to the 'latest outbreak of yellow fever', Mr McConnell issued a blistering response to the Courier-Journal after it repeated the allegations. 'Even if one assumes all of the . . . facts are true, they have demonstrated nothing more than, at best, a naked political vendetta and subtle racism.'

Mr McConnell defended his wife as 'an American who was born in Taiwan and now serves as the Secretary of Labour for the United States'. He describes her father, James Chao, as someone 'who fled Communist China for freedom more than half a century ago' and who is 'surely as much of an American as members of the Courier-Journal's editorial board'.

The senator acknowledged meeting Mr Jiang and Mr Tung but said he had also met numerous other world statesmen. And he insisted he was no different from many other Senators in receiving campaign support from the US-China Business Council: 'The US-China Business Council is made up of mainstream American businesses, such as Coca-Cola, Levi's, Mary Kay and Sara Lee. What could be more American and less communist than Coca-Cola, blue jeans, make-up and apple pie?'[3]

Committee of 100 connections

Wen Jiabao event

China’s Premier Wen Jiabao was honored at a luncheon at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel on September 23 2008 hosted by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and US-China Business Council, along with the Committee of 100 and a number of other organizations. As part of his activities in New York where he was attending the United Nations General Assembly, Wen gave a major address to this gathering of 550 guests from international affairs organizations, government, business, and academia. Among those making welcoming remarks were U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Wen spoke broadly about U.S.-China relations, discussing the general principles underlying Chinese foreign relations and expressed his confidence that “whoever becomes the next President of the United States, China-U.S. relations will continue to move forward, as the trend of history will not turn back.” He also thankedd Americans for the volunteer work and donations to help the people of Sichuan cope with the May earthquake. “We also saw many scenes showing China-U.S. friendship during the Beijing Olympic Games that ended last month,” he said, noting for instance that three generations of the Bush family attended the Olympics.

There was strong representation from the Committee at the luncheon. C-100 Chairman John L. Fugh sat at the head table, with members Anla Cheng, David D. Ho, Bernard Joei, Cheng Li, I.M. Pei, Betty Lee Sung, Donald Tang, Henry Tang, Charles P. Wang, Shing-Tung Yau, Shirley Young, Pauline Yu, and Ya-Qin Zhang, and C-100 Executive Director Alice Mong and Executive Counselor John Young also in attendance.[4]

C-100 approval

New York, November 30, 2016 — the Committee of 100 commended President-Elect Donald Trump and congratulated Elaine Chao on her nomination as the next United States Secretary of Transportation.

As Secretary of Transportation, Chao’s impressive expertise, nuanced grasp of policy, and extensive experience in government, will be invaluable in implementing the Trump administration’s priorities to develop America’s infrastructure, rejuvenate its transportation system, and create jobs.
C100 member Linda Tsao Yang, former Ambassador to The Asian Development Bank notes, “Elaine Chao is well qualified for the appointment as Transportation Secretary. She is an experienced former banker, with finance being a key determinate in infrastructure investment…she is well-versed in working with Congress.” C100 Chairman Frank H. Wu, concurred, “We are proud to see excellent Chinese Americans like Elaine Chao take on leadership roles and serve the country.”
C100 regards Chao’s appointment as a highly positive signal of the incoming Trump administration’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Chao has long been an inspirational figure in the Asian American community and serves as an exemplar of a distinguished American public servant.
The Committee of 100 enthusiastically supports Elaine Chao’s nomination.[5]

"C100 U.S.-China Fulbright Fund"

Washington DC, Oct. 4, 2017 the Committee of 100, announced the launch of a "C100 U.S.-China Fulbright Fund". The new US$1 million fund is initiated by Committee of 100 members and "will operate under the government's binational Fulbright program to expand U.S.-China educational exchanges".

The C100 U.S.-China Fulbright Fund ws announced during a State Department public diplomacy event at George Washington University on the occasion of the U.S.-China Social and Cultural Dialogue, hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Madame Vice Premier Liu Yandong as part of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Dialogue framework spearheaded by President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping.

The special event featured U.S. Cabinet Secretaries including U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and a high level delegation of Chinese leaders including China's Vice Premier Liu Yandong, Minister of Education Chen Baosheng, Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang, Minister of Culture Luo Shugang, Minister of National Health and Family Planning Commission Li Bin, Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai, and others.

As the nation's highest ranking Chinese American government official, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao opened the event speaking of her personal journey immigrating from China to the U.S. at the age of eight. She expounded on the unique and important role of Asian Americans in the United States. "They are part of a growing vibrant community that have contributed much to America," said Secretary Chao.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke about her own eye-opening experience in China as a study abroad student, and underscored the importance of educational exchanges such as that of the Fulbright Scholarship Program. "As a cornerstone of our relationship, Fulbright is a demonstration of our commitment to developing the next generation of leaders and scholars who will work to solve the shared global challenges we face."

"We are grateful to the Committee of 100 [for their pledge of] $1 million to launch a C100 U.S.-China Fulbright Fund," remarked Secretary DeVos, "I look forward to continuing to work together on these vital programs."

C100 Chairman Frank Wu noted, "Committee of 100 is honored to partner and contribute to furthering our nation's goals to advance exchanges with China under the Fulbright program. We are also grateful to Secretary Rex Tillerson, Secretary Elaine Chao, Secretary Betsy DeVos, Madame Premier Liu Yandong, and the impressive delegation from China for their leadership and participation in the U.S.-China Social and Cultural Dialogue."

"As an organization dedicated to the betterment of U.S.-China relations," Wu continues, "C100 views these exchanges as a critical backbone for long-term constructive engagement between the U.S. and China, not only expanding people-to-people ties and developing future generation bridge-builders, but also establishing a positive springboard for cooperative government-to-government dialogue to address the expanding plethora of strategic issues facing our two nations."

The C100 U.S.-China Fulbright Fund is made possible by Committee of 100 members with decades of demonstrated commitment to educational excellence in both China and the United States. Distinguished Chinese American leaders who have seeded the $1 million fund include Kenneth Fong, C100 Board Member and Founder of Kenson Ventures, LLC; Ming Hsieh, C100 Board Member and President & Founder of Fulgent Therapeutics; Howard Li, C100 Board Member, C100 Greater China Co-Chair and Chairman of Waitex International Co., Ltd.; Roger Wang, C100 Board Member and Chairman of Golden Eagle International Group; and Walter Wang, longtime C100 member and President & CEO of JM Eagle. Representing Committee of 100 as official U.S. Delegates to the GWU diplomacy event were C100 Chairman Frank Wu, C100 D.C. Region Chairman Robert Gee, JM Eagle representative and UCLA Foundation Chair Shirley Wang, and C100 Executive Director Holly Chang.[6]



  1. [1]
  2. [Pittsburgh Tribune Review, China's American Enablers, Dateline DC, January 28, 2007]
  3. [2]
  4. [http://committee100.typepad.com/committee_of_100_newslett/2008/10/premier-wen-jia.htmlC 100 Premier Wen Jiabao Cites Earthquake, Olympics as Examples of U.S.-China Friendship at Luncheon Co-hosted by Committee of 100 October 2008 | By Jane Leung Larson]
  5. [3]
  6. [ https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/committee-of-100-launches-1-million-us-china-fulbright-fund-300531037.html CISION PR Committee of 100 Launches $1 Million U.S.-China Fulbright Fund Committee of 100 Oct 04, 2017]