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US apologises for anti-China law

Press Trust of India  |  Washington/Beijing 

The Chinese Exclusion Act, approved in 1882 in Congress and which lasted for 60 years, was the first and the only federal law in US history that excluded a single ethnic group from immigrating to the country, and on no basis other than their race.

It explicitly banned Chinese workers from immigration and existing residents from naturalisation and voting.

The Act was later expanded several times to apply to all persons of Chinese descent, each time imposing increasingly severe restrictions on immigration and naturalisation.

In a voice vote, the House passed H Res. 683, a bipartisan resolution that formally expresses regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and other legislation that discriminated against people of Chinese origin in the US.

It was approved in the Senate last October.

Congressional leaders hailed the approval of the resolution as a "historic" moment for the Chinese-American community.

"Today the House made history when both chambers of Congress officially and formally acknowledged the ugly and un-American nature of laws that targeted Chinese immigrants," Congresswoman Judy Chu, the only member of Congress who is of Chinese descent and who introduced the bill, said.

"I feel so gratified...

And I feel honoured to have been a part of this great moment in history," she said.

The resolution was also welcomed by the Chinese community.

Haipei Shue, president of the National Council of Chinese-Americans, said the day was "a great day for Chinese-Americans."

Chinese-Americans will be able to "heal historical wounds that have been festering for over 100 years," and move forward after the apology, Shue said.

Reacting to the resolution, China today welcomed it and praised the US legislature's gesture.

China praises the US legislature's gesture, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a media briefing here.

Hong said that the prosperity of the US is indispensable from the joint efforts and cooperation from all ethnic groups, including Chinese immigrants, who in the late 18th century worked on a host of American rail and road projects.

The resolution gives a positive evaluation and appreciation for the contributions made by Chinese immigrants to US society, Hong said.

First Published: Tue, June 19 2012. 17:06 IST