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Clinton backs immigrants at Flushing dinner

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"Mostly it's only local politicians," Flushing Chinese Business Association President Fred Fu said of his high-profile guest list that has included former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki. "It's important because when the City Council or government makes policy, we want them to know Flushing has such a big Chinese population."

And much of Flushing's Chinese population, mostly business leaders and their friends, turned out for the dinner Friday, which was attended by nearly 800 people. Fu said he also invited the association's Indian, Korean and Thai friends.

Fu works with the many different Asian populations in Queens as a member of Clinton's Asian-American Council.

Clinton, who spoke briefly and posed for pictures with her fans, said she stopped at the gala to express her support for Chinese-American immigrants.

"There are many issues that I am working on in the U.S. Senate that will have a direct effect on the quality of your business, the education and health care you receive for you and your families, the immigration laws of our nation," she said. "I need your help to be a partner with me so I can do the best possible job for you."

She wished the crowd a happy lunar new year.

"I am very proud to represent such a strong and vibrant Chinese-American community," Clinton said. "As I understand this, it is the Year of the Monkey and the monkey is an optimistic, happy and intelligent animal so I hope we will all be this - whether or not we were born in the Year of the Monkey."

Performances of a Chinese opera and fan dance also entertained the gala's attendees.

The evening lasted until midnight. Proclamations were read from Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Whitestone).

"Over the past 20 years, the Flushing Chinese Business Association has played an important role in bridging the Chinese community with the government agencies and has made great achievements in improving the business and cultural environment for the Chinese commercial society of Flushing," Fu said in his message at the gala. "As a non-political and non-profit organization, FCBA has always been praised by the public for helping to create harmonious business relationship of its members with the contact of various neighboring ethnic groups."

Liu praised Fu's ability to bring so many people together, and to address important civic issues in downtown Flushing.

"It's called a business association, but in reality it is a civic group much like some of the prominent groups in Manhattan are, groups such as Citizens Union, Association for Better New York," Liu said.

"I rank the FCBA up there with those very well-known and prominent and prestigious organizations. Fred and the FCBA are partners in our pursuit to make for a better community."

Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

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