Houstonian Corner (V9-I27)

June 28, 2007 by  


Distinctive Pakistan Community Center Opens in Houston

Located at the intersection of South Dairy Ashford at Bissonnet in Southwest Houston, the first full-fledged “Pakistan Community Center ” of the USA has been established in a former H-E-B Grocery Store.

The First Annual Gala Fundraising Dinner was held at the Center this past week, while the Center will be officially inaugurated by Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan, Mr. Mohammed Mian Soomro on July 05, 2007.

The fundraiser was attended by three Congresspersons: Sheila Jackson Lee, Al Green and Nick Lampson.

Mr. Ghulam Mohammad Bombaywala, President of the Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH), talking to local media, said that he is most happy to be given an opportunity by God and the community to be the caretaker of this project.

This project was envisioned way back in the 1980s and several individuals and committees have worked on various options and plans. However, it was during the presidential tenure of Mr. Bombaywala that PAGH Pakistan Center Trustees and PAGH officials came with the unique idea of a self-sustaining Community Center. There was debate within the community on this issue and some were not in favor of combining business interests with a community services center.

Mr. Ghulam Mohammad Bombaywala and his team continued with the plan of using the funds generated by the sale of earlier Pakistan Center Land, the funds raised by the team plus taking out loan to purchase the old H-E-B Grocery Store and renovate it to make seven shops facing Bissonnet (the commercial and self-sustaining part of the Center) and Pakistan Community Center facing South Dairy Ashford.

All seven shops have been leased, and it is expected that the loan of $1.5 million for the property will soon be paid-off.

The 37,000-Square-Foot building has seven shops, a 16,000-Square-Foot Banquet Hall and Seminar Room (which both can as well be rented to generate funds), a community clinic, library, after-school activity room, elderly people’s room, and separate prayer halls for ladies and men.
PAGH can be reached at: Pakistani Community Center, 12638 Bissonnet, Houston, Texas 77099, Phone: 281-684-4231.

Chinese Language Needs To Be Learnt: China Town Hall Meeting

The Asia Society Texas Center for the past twenty-eights years has operated as a medium for perspectives and deliberations on subjects related to Asia. Hundreds of programs are offered each year on Asia, with economics seminars, USAID Reports, health issues, cultural exhibits and salons, the annual Tiger Ball, and much more.

The Asia Society Texas Center, in collaboration with the National Committee on US-China Relations and the University Of St. Thomas Center for International Studies, brought web-cast at the Cullen Hall of the St. Thomas University Houston. This web-cast was part of Local Connections–National Reflections China Town Hall Meetings, which were held simultaneously in 30 Cities across the US.

The first thirty minutes were addressed by Dr. Thomas J. Christensen, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs with responsibility for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia.

Mr. Stephen A. Orlins, President and CEO of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, was the Webcast monitor. After the webcast, each of the 30 cities had a local
program.

In Houston, the panel included Ms. Naila Qureshi of the Asia Society, Dr. Gustavo Wensjoe of the University Of St. Thomas Center for International Studies, and Kein G. Nealer of The Scowcroft Group, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Thomas J. Christensen emphasized the necessity of developing an articulated and coordinated plan towards the People’s Republic of China that can integrate all the concerns like economic, security, diplomatic, and human rights. China’s brisk appearance as a salient constituent of today’s strategic environment has considerable connotations for the US, the Asia, and the world. He said Chinese is one of the most important languages for everyone (especially entrepreneurs and the youth) to learn.

According to Dr. Thomas J. Christensen, China’s over dependence on oil can create a world crisis, especially since China is relying on countries for oil who are not in friendly terms with the USA (like Sudan, Iran and Venezuela).

He said when he visited China in the previous decades the number of cycles and automobiles he saw have interchanged their numbers; meaning there are as many automobiles now on Chinese roads as there used to be bikes in the previous decades. And as the numbers swell at astronomic rates, the world can get engulfed in energy crisis very soon.

About the economy and China-US Trade Deficit, it was mentioned that China’s policies of market liberalization have resulted in rapid export-led economic growth, prompting increased foreign investment; development of China’s manufacturing capabilities; and integration into the global supply chain. China’s abundant and inexpensive labor supply has made that country an obvious place for multinational companies to expand their production. According to Dr. Christensen’s assessment, five of eight factors identified as major drivers of China’s comparative advantage—for example its ability to undercut the prices of global competitors—are considered unfair trading practices. These include its undervalued currency, counterfeiting and piracy, export industry subsidies, and lax health, safety, and environmental regulations. These practices violate China’s WTO commitments, especially regarding workers’ rights, market access, currency manipulation, subsidies, and the protection of intellectual property rights. These violations and unfair practices also contribute to a growing U.S. trade deficit with China; one that U.S. Census Bureau statistics confirm increased 177 percent in the past six years from $83.8 billion in 2000 to $232.5 billion in 2006.

Dr. Thomas J. Christensen concluded by saying that in all spheres like the economy, the environment, military spending and innovations, China needs to become more transparent and show willingness to work together with the world community.

At the conclusion of the half-hour webcast, Kevin Nealer lead the discussion with the Houston audience on “China ’s Energy Demands and Implications for U.S.” Remember Nealer is the author of the Council on Foreign Relations Report Beginning the Journey: China, The United States and the WTO.

He is a consultant to the U.S. defense and intelligence communities on trade and economic security issues.

For more information on future Asia Society Texas Center Programs, contact: Ms. Susie Works, 4605 Post Oak Place, Ste. 205, Houston, Texas 77027 – Tel: (713) 439-0051 Ext. 12 – Fax: (713) 439-1107 – E-Mail: susiew@asiasoc.org.

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