Chinese Consul General Peng Keyu praised the proposed Chinese Workers Museum project, saying not only does it honor the workers who built the V&T Railroad 100 years ago and the culture of his nation, but will bring the U.S. and China closer together economically and every other way.
"I am most delighted to see that the government and people of Nevada value the contributions of the Chinese workers," he told a group of project supporters, including Gov. Jim Gibbons, on the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday.
The purpose of the event was to start the fundraising for the project.
Ambassador Peng said he believes the museum will be a valuable resource to educate both Americans and Chinese.
"Not many young Chinese or many American young people know the history," he said. "This will help people know the history."
The plan calls for one of the biggest construction projects ever in the Carson City area. The estimated $50 million museum would be constructed near the capital city's eastern border along Highway 50, if the bureau of Land Management agrees to provide the land. The museum would be located near where the V&T Railroad station will be built.
Asked where that money will come from, Carson Mayor Marv Teixeira said "It all boils down to money."
"It's not going to come from cake-bake sales," he said. "It'll have to come from corporate America and the Chinese government."
Ambassador Peng said he couldn't address that issue.
But James Earl, executive director of the project, said major corporations both in the U.S. and China are the target of his marketing plan.
"It'll come from the U.S. corporations that want to do business in China and the Chinese corporations that want to enlarge business in the U.S.," he said.
For U.S. corporations, Earl said, supporting the museum will help them open doors in China. Companies that make significant contributions, Earl said, will have the right to use the museum's logo on their advertising and correspondence.
Major contributors, he said, would get a seat on the museum board of directors and have a say in the exhibits and operation.
And for Chinese corporations, he said the lure to contribute would be their reverence for their ancestors and for the history of their people.
"There's no better way to go right to the heart and soul than to honor the ancestors," he said.
Gibbons told the audience the museum would recognize and honor the cultural contributions of those Chinese immigrants. He said during the 1870s and 1880s, Chinese immigrants made up a quarter of Carson City's population and worked in every trade and craft.
He proclaimed Aug. 29 a day in honor of the proposed museum project.
Teixeira said in addition to working with the Chinese government on the project, Carson City and the coastal port of Taishan are becoming sister cities. He said that is where many of those Chinese immigrants who settled in Western Nevada were originally from.
Earl said the museum will show how those immigrants overcame the challenges of the frontier, display artifacts, put the cultural contributions of the immigrants into historical perspective, encourage further study of Chinese-American relations and the history of those immigrants and showcase international educational and cultural events to increase understanding between the two nations.
Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.