Liu Xiaopeng


The title name is contrived. This article about the person is a composite picture, portrayed like the Christ drama playing this season of the Church, about the ekklesia, the household of fundamental humanity, in the name of the Greek theos.

Liu Xiaopeng on Saipan was petitioned as an immigrant, which was approved after he turned 21 rather than at the age when the petition was made earlier. Procedurally, he now lines up with the rest, which by the Immigration’s estimate is about seven years.

He came as an unmarried person but had since fallen in love with a Chinese mei mei on island, serious about becoming a family so he will have to weigh his options carefully. A seven-year wait and staying single makes families forego the formality of a legal union, ironically, contravening the State Department’s policy of protecting the family!

We do not point on anyone’s deficiency, or malignancy, not on the system nor on the applicant. Xiaopeng is not a dispensable and faceless creature in a crowd, a dismissible digit in a pile of numbers. He has a history of his own, unique to his experience and situation, a breathing human being.

Xiaopeng fended for himself under his maternal grannies’ care after his parents divorced in China. Deferring to elders is deeply embedded in the Chinese social DNA. Like most Chinese, he grew with an eye on units of activity rather than continuity of the journey from birth to death.  Consistency is not a high value, practicality is, moving from one unit of spacetime to another rather than on a journey stream of chronological line.

His mom remarried an American guy from NYC who came to China for visits, petitioned for them to join him but the process took an unexpected bend. The U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou decided the marriage was not “bona fide” so the mother paid a steep price to rendezvous with her husband in a U.S. territory, the CNMI. Mama’s considerable Yuan expense for the effort was wasted as the husband failed to show up. He had an advance case of Alz and was confined to a care home. He could not even locate his travel papers and passport.

NYC Alz sufferer agreed on a divorce and died not too long after. Mama met a guy in Saipan who followed her to China and that’s how Xiaopeng got to be on Saipan awaiting for his immigration status as a result of a petition. A bit dismayed with the “yes but” in the turn of events, it was just one more in series of denials since petitions were made on his behalf.

Now he is determined to create his own destiny. He had much practice doing this as his grandpa wanted him to matriculate at a certain university. He attended another school but pretended he was pursuing what his grandpa wanted. There was no conflict in his mind to what he was doing. He maintained his mienzi, social face, without actually doing what others wanted him to do. Defiance was not his intent. He acted on his own, a feat of considerable yin-yang balance.

The irony this year was that Xiaopeng was an overstaying tourist on Saipan without incurring the ire of USCIS as he was in his stepfather’s care. He had a round-trip ticket valid for a year. Leaving was not so much an option as a necessity since when the petition was granted; he had to leave and return with a valid status before going to the next step, if he still desired to migrate to the United States. Otherwise, he was just another of the numerous Chinese citizens who overstayed their visa in the CNMI.

Xiaopeng’s upbringing included an ethic that focused on transactions one deal at a time.  He gets frustrated when things do not turn out right by his expectation, avoiding immediate failures rather than build on previous experiences, learn from them; more concerned with the moment’s social face rather than reality’s parameters.

I am belaboring Xiaopeng’s journey to say that the world in general follows the same pattern of maintaining face. Trusting anyone as a starting point is shunned, and like a Chinese businessman, seeking a position of advantage to close a transaction is the deal, never mind other consequences. Wall Street is not too far behind, more interested in closing a deal rather than maintaining a system.

Worst, we operate defensively out of fear, mostly imagined than real.

There is an ethical dimension in Chinese society, like the idealistic moralism in Europe, faithful to a theological master enshrined on Mt. Olympus, or the dictates of a sacred scripture; the sense of “ought-ness” is by virtue of established social practice rather than a sense of right or wrong, a contradiction in the mind rather than a choice on deeds.

Mao wrote on contradictions to promote his communism resorting to communalism to chart the change from the superiority of the illuminati to the ascendancy of the farmer and the worker, a delicate balancing act similar to Xiaopeng’s yin-yang feat, maintaining all forces within the same circle.

Xiaopeng stayed on Saipan oblivious of legal implication. He outgrew legal torpedoes.

Jaime R. Vergara | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Jaime Vergara previously taught at SVES in the CNMI. A peripatetic pedagogue, he last taught in China but makes Honolulu, Shenyang, and Saipan home. He can be reached at

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