Asian-Americans warned to brace for continued discrimination
By Gilda P. Balan, Correspondent
Panelists at the Committee of 100’s yearly conference in San Jose, California last week said the situation will worsen, and not only for Chinese and Chinese-Americans.
Anecdotal evidence shows that typical hatemongers do not know the difference among the various Asian-American communities, whether their roots are Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Hmong, Vietnamese or Indian.
The Committee of 100 is a Chinese-American civic organization founded by the legendary architect I. M. Pei with members from business, government, the academe, and the arts. It seeks to foster constructive relations between the US and China.
It is worth noting that Filipinos and FilAms have been mistaken for either Chinese or Mexicans – two of the communities frequently targeted by racists with violent streaks — because they carry such surnames as Lim, Chan or Sy (from their Chinese roots) and Santos, Cruz, or Reyes (from their Hispanic background).
China and Mexico were also targeted by former President Donald Trump for discriminatory acts, notably with his vow to create a wall in the southern border as well as his China Initiative which fueled mistrust towards Asian-Americans.
Panelists at the conference warned that situation would likely worsen due to such factors as next year’s elections where Trump is likely to seek a return to the White House, the recent incidents of Chinese weather balloons entering US air space, and de facto Chinese police stations discovered inside US and Canadian soil.
The US Justice Department’s China Initiative launched in November 2018 was supposedly aimed at stemming economic espionage and theft of trade secrets and intellectual property by China.
But critics said the program racially profiled Asian-Americans and even ruined careers, notably of professors and researchers at US institutions of learning when they failed to disclose their affiliations with Asian institutions.
“People look for someone to blame,” said Buck Gee, regional chair of the committee, adding that “there are people who are suffering and see us as the enemy.”
Another panelist, Brian Sun, a partner with the Norton Rose Fulbright law firm, said the attacks on the loyalty of Chinese-Americans segued into hate crimes at Chinese-Americans and Asian-Americans because “they all look alike.”
Speaking for the law enforcement sector, FBI assistant special agent Jeff Fields (an African-American) said they do not investigate based on race or ethnicity, but acknowledged that the bureau could better address minority concerns.
Still, Fermin Gong, chairman of the Hua Yuan Science and Technology Association, admitted he was wary of appearing in a panel with an FBI agent.
Panelists pointed out that what is happening now is reminiscent to the ‘50s and the communist scare.
They agreed that Asian-Americans should “just beware.”