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[Congressional Record: February 28, 2002 (Extensions)]
[Page E223]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                          TRIBUTE TO DAN TANG


                            HON. MARK UDALL

                              of colorado

                    in the house of representatives

                      Wednesday, February 27, 2002

  Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor a 
constituent of mine, Mr. Dan Tang, who was recently featured in the 
Rocky Mountain News for his success as an entrepreneur in the 
restaurant business. Mr. Tang's story reminds us that perhaps no one 
enjoys the fruits of the opportunity that America has to offer as much 
as those who have never had the luxury of taking it for granted.
  Over twenty years ago, having heard countless stories of how much our 
great country has to offer, Mr. Tang bravely escaped communist China 
with the hope of one day becoming an American citizen. He spent nearly 
a year in extremely harsh conditions at a refugee camp in Canton 
awaiting permission to come here. Thankfully, Mr. Tang had relatives in 
Los Angeles who were able to give him a floor to sleep on, and a roof 
over his head when he finally received permission to enter the United 
  As an immigrant who spoke no English, he had a life-sustaining dream 
to overcome the obstacles he faced and move to Colorado. In Colorado he 
was able to get a job as a dishwasher in an American-owned Chinese 
restaurant. He worked tirelessly, learned English, and moved up the 
ladder of the restaurant business, eventually becoming a chef. 
Recognizing Mr. Tang's talent, a Colorado restaurant owner took him 
under his wing and taught him the financial side of the business. This 
knowledge and experience enabled Mr. Tang to purchase his first 
restaurant, ``Heaven Dragon.'' The restaurant is one of the most 
popular and successful restaurants in my district and has enabled Mr. 
Tang to buy a second restaurant nearby, ``Pearl Wok''. He is a leader 
in the Chinese-American community of Colorado, a successful 
businessman, a friend to the Governor of Colorado, and an example of 
how the so-called ``American dream'' is still a reality.
  Mr. Speaker, at a time in our country's history when many are 
skeptical of the enormous contribution that immigrants and their 
families make in contributing to the success of America and 
strengthening our communities, I am encouraged by the example of Dan 
  Mr. Speaker, I commend Dan Tang's story to this House and to my 
colleagues for the inspiration it evokes, and for a reminder of what it 
is to be an American.

             [From the Rocky Mountain News, Feb. 20, 2002]

                       Feeding the American Dream

                           (By Marty Meitus)

       Fourteen people. One rusty old boat, A harrowing glide down 
     the river to Macau, then a Portuguese colony more than 100 
     miles from the farm near Canton, with two toddlers to keep 
       If the boat went toward the shore, Dan Tang says, they 
     would cover the children with a blanket to make it look as if 
     they were transporting something. If the boat had sprung a 
     leak and sunk, or if the children had cried out at the wrong 
     moment, Tang and company would have risked prison and a steep 
       ``It was pretty scary,'' he says in his heavily accented 
       Tang, owner of the Heaven Dragon restaurant, a hidden 
     treasure tucked away in a strip mall in Thornton, has been 
     asked to tell the tale of his escape from communist China 
     over and over since he arrived in this country 20 years ago. 
     The affable 40-year-old is given to easy laughter, taking 
     pleasure and pride in his pretty restaurant.
       In honor of the Chinese, New Year, which began Feb. 12 and 
     lasts 15 days, we talked to Tang about his journey toward the 
     American dream.
       Tang's father was a rice and yam farmer in Canton; his 
     mother was a housewife. He and his five brothers slept in the 
     same bed in their two-bedroom wood-and-dirt house. Needed in 
     the fields, he attended school only to fifth grade. The 
     family never rose above the poverty level, restricted by a 
     government that confiscated most of their earnings and 
     limited their activities.
       In 1980, hearing that fortunes could be made here, Tang 
     decided to leave China for the United States. ``They (his 
     parents) let me try it to escape to freedom,'' he says. ``The 
     government limited what you could do. You had to escape, 
     because there were no travel visas; you had to get permission 
     to go from city to city.''
       In Macau, he stayed in a refugee camp for 11 months, under 
     rough conditions, while he waited for his visa to come 
     through. His goal was to reach his aunt, his father's sister, 
     who lived in Los Angeles.
       Eventually, he was granted permission to leave. He lost 
     sight of the other 13 people on the boat, although he knows 
     that a couple of them immigrated to Canada. ``We were 
     lucky,'' he says. ``I know people who tried to get out four 
     or five times.''
       In Los Angeles, he slept in his aunt's dining room, hoping 
     to break into the restaurant business, one of the few fields 
     open to an immigrant who spoke no English. Struggling to 
     survive, he finally moved to Colorado, where he had friends, 
     and went to work for Americans who owned a Chinese restaurant 
     in Aurora.
       His experience with cooking was limited. ``The first time I 
     saw a grocery store in the U.S., I'm in paradise,'' he says.
       He worked his way up from dishwasher to prep cook to deep-
     fry cook to chef, moving around the metro area to 10 
     restaurants in all. Then an American businessman took him 
     under his wing and taught him the restaurant business, 
     enabling Tang to buy Heaven Dragon in 1985.
       Tang has brought all his family except two brothers to 
     America, and they should be allowed to come in the next 
     couple of years. The family includes his wife, Ying Li, the 
     woman chosen to be his bride by his parents in an arranged 
     marriage. When he brought her over as an adult for their 
     wedding, he hadn't seen her since she was 9. ``When she got 
     off the plane,'' he says. ``I didn't recognize her, except a 
     little bit.''
       Choosing his own wife would have been out of the question. 
     ``We still have old culture, so I wouldn't even think of not 
     doing it,'' he says. But all's well that ends well. He and 
     Yung Li have been married for 11 years and have three 
     children: Victor, 10, Tracey 8, and Audrey, 7.
       Tang has been successful enough to open a second 
     restaurant, the Pearl Wok, at West 120th Avenue and Sheridan 
     Boulevard. Although he'd like to have more free time to 
     devote to learning English and he regrets never being able to 
     return to school, the restaurant life has been its own 
     education. ``If you work hard,'' he says, ``you get