David Wu, now a Democratic representative in the U.S. Congress from Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, is a Chinese immigrant. He was born in Taiwan on April 8th, 1955. In 1961 he and his family moved from Hsinchu, Taiwan, to Latham, NY after President Kennedy adjusted United States immigration quotas.
As a child Wu did face discrimination. He and his family were the only Asian-Americans in Latham. However, he said he “tried not to notice” racism, as it would have been debilitating to worry about it all the time1. Wu’s parents exposed him to Chinese culture and insisted he speak Chinese at home, but he was also drawn to the American way of life and culture that he saw in his friends.
Wu graduated with a degree in Biology from Stanford, and then, at the prompting of his father, went to Harvard Medical School. He quit medical school and moved to Washington for a year before attending and graduating from Yale Law School.
Wu moved to Portland in 1984, and in 1988 he co-founded the Cohen & Wu legal firm. The firm specialized in serving high-tech business, a sector that later helped fund his congressional campaign.
In 1998, following the retirement of Democrat Elizabeth Furse, Wu ran for Congress in the 1st congressional district, covering NW Oregon from the western half of Portland to the coast. He narrowly defeated his Republican opponent, Molly Bordonaro, and began his first term in Congress on 20 January, 1999.
Wu weighed in on two important issues regarding Asian Americans while in Congress. First, during the scandal over Chinese espionage, Wu pushed for a resolution in the house highlighting the contributions of Asian Americans to our society, in an effort to head off any anti-Asian discrimination in the wake of the scandal. And just recently he advocated against passage of Permanent Normalized Trade Relations for China, citing human rights and conscience, despite the fact that many of his high-tech constituents would likely reap strong benefit from passage. Wu voted against the measure on 24 May, 2000.
Wu continues to serve in Congress, and easily won reëlection in November 2000.
1. Nishioka, Joyce and Janet Dang. “David Wu in the House!”. Asian Week. 15 July, 1999. <http://www.asianweek.com/071599/feature_davidwu.html> (24 May, 2000)