By Assunta Ng
What does Washington state mean to Chinese people?
Not much. They even confuse our state with Washington D.C.
Ben Zhang, president and founder of Greater China Industries of Bellevue, received an invitation from a Chinese media company to be featured in a documentary because he embodies the American dream. As an international student from China, he started one of the fastest-growing minority firms in our state in 1989, importing Chinese products and selling them to U.S. companies. Lately, he’s been making wine called Leonetti Cellar in Walla Walla Valley, then exporting it to the competitive China wine market.
A driven entrepreneur, Zhang seized this opportunity to promote Washington state, and not just for himself. He hosted a dinner so the television crew could film and interview his friends. He let China learn more about our state beyond the fact that big trendy companies like Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, and Costco are headquartered here.
Many of the 30 guests who dined at China Harbor Restaurant were movers and shakers in our state, including Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani, Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, and King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn. Holding the event at China Harbor on Lake Union was strategic, since Lake Union is tied to the movie “Sleepless in Seattle,” parts of which were filmed there. Zhang also once worked for the owner of China Harbor, Lo Yu Sun, when Sun owned China First.
The menu showcased Northwest seafood, such as salmon, geoduck, king crab, and sea bass. Of course, his Walla Walla wine — which has been served in the White House multiple times — was served at the dinner. How Zhang managed to get his wine into the White House could be an interesting story. The crew was amazed.
One thing is for sure, Zhang is the “hidden dragon” waiting to be discovered. (end)
To read the publisher’s blog in Chinese, visit www.seattlechinesepost.com.