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Chinese American entertainers stage benefit performance for China's quake victims
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11:18, May 19, 2008

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· 7.8 Richter scale earthquake hits SW China
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More than 200 Chinese American entertainers staged a benefit performance in New York Sunday afternoon raising more than 106,000 U.S. dollars for victims of China's May 12 earthquake.

The performers, including singers, musicians, martial arts practitioners and a competitor in this year's local beauty queen contest, endured showers during much of the five-hour event.

"None of the performers changed their appearance because of the rain," said Richard Li, one of the event's organizers.

Organizers were able to pull off the benefit performance in just three days, thanks to a tremendous outpouring of sympathy and support from the local Chinese community, Li said.

All logistics and services, including the venue, the audio systems and other supplies, were provided for free.

One of the anchors at the event broke into tears time and again, especially when she saw children offer their piggy-bank dollars to the quake victims.

"How I wish those children in the quake-stricken areas were as happy as you are," she sobbed. Many of the more than 32,000 people who perished in the earthquake were children.

Many had teary eyes at the event, including Peng Keyu, the Chinese consul-general in New York.

Diplomats at the Consulate General have been working overtime over the past few days helping Americans, both of Chinese and other ethnic background, donate to the quake victims.

Hundreds of checks have been sent in daily, Peng said, some from people visiting the visa office.

Ellen Young, a Taiwan-born New York State Assemblywoman, read two letters, one to the Standing Committee of Sichuan Provincial People's Congress, the other to the Sichuan Provincial Government, in Sichuan dialect, expressing sympathy for and solidarity with the Chinese people.

"I am sure that people in the disaster-stricken area will, proceeding from the Chinese nation's spirit of perseverance in hard times, pass the period of difficulty soon," Young said.

The assemblywoman said she would propose establishing a sister state-province relationship between New York and Sichuan so as to better help the quake-hit province's reconstruction efforts.

Near the benefit performance's venue outside Flushing Mall, in Flushing, home to one of New York's largest Chinese communities, many local Chinese organizations continued collecting donations for quake victims despite the rain.

Lily Costa, a Sichuan native, has been collecting donations since Tuesday, one day after the 8.0-magnitude quake. The nine-member family of her stepmother's brother was in Beichuan near the epicenter; only three survived.


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