Committee of 100 Guidelines for Political Candidates and Campaigns on China-Related Issues
New York, NY (June 21, 2020) – In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. elections, and in light of yesterday’s comments by President Trump using racially charged language to refer to the coronavirus, the Committee of 100, representing the voices of Chinese Americans, calls on all political candidates and campaigns to abide by the following guidelines when addressing China related issues, and to refrain from inflammatory or divisive rhetoric, deliberate fear-mongering, and the use of race or racially coded advertising for political gain.
Chinese Americans have contributed greatly to America’s achievements and leadership throughout the country’s history. We continue to do so today, as many Chinese Americans are engaged in the fight against COVID-19 and in the nation’s recovery, whether on the frontlines as doctors and nurses; serving in law-enforcement and the U.S. military; advancing scientific research and innovation; or helping to build and sustain local communities and economies across the United States. Yet, today, the full and equal participation of Chinese Americans in American society is under threat.
In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing numbers of Chinese and Asian Americans found themselves subject to greater verbal and physical violence, erroneously blamed for the virus at a time when some fearful Americans, already conditioned to the stereotype of Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners, were looking to cast blame. Ongoing U.S.-China tensions at the time only exacerbated the matter as both governments engaged in mutual recriminations: American officials attempted to ascribe the virus to the entire nation of China and to an entire race of people in response to Beijing’s fanning of conspiracy theories against the U.S. Such incendiary rhetoric and false associations only inflamed racial tensions, and are a threat to the safety and wellbeing of Chinese and Asian Americans if not called out and properly addressed.
C100 is especially concerned that as campaigns heat up in the coming election cycle, candidates will try to one-up each other on China related issues with increasingly inflammatory rhetoric, and false or misleading advertising that will not only further inflame tensions between the U.S. and China, but will incite even greater prejudice against and exacerbate hostilities towards Chinese and Asian Americans. To be sure, C100 fully supports and welcomes a comprehensive and robust policy debate on China and the U.S.-China relationship. China has become the number one geopolitical and economic issue for the United States, and a legitimate and necessary topic for debate and criticism where warranted, but such discussions should be based on facts and policy, not on innuendo, half-truths, and racial stereotypes.
It is especially important, in discussions on U.S.-China issues, to distinguish between the actions of a government, its people, and the people of relevant heritage in America. The conflation of China’s government with either the “Chinese” people or with Chinese Americans is both lazy and dangerous: it can lead, in the former case, to biased views and policies towards an entire culture; and in the latter, to mistaken notions that can further endanger the safety, wellbeing, and civil liberties of Chinese Americans. C100 calls on all candidates, campaigns, donors and supporters to use accurate and inclusive language that avoids sowing division and mistrust based on race or ethnic heritage. Candidates should also clearly communicate to constituents that racist and discriminatory messages are unacceptable and should be rejected.
In this time of global uncertainty, C100 calls on all political candidates and campaigns to abide by these principles so that we can address the most challenging policy issues facing America today while also protecting marginalized peoples and uniting our communities.
About Committee of 100
Committee of 100 (C100) is a non-profit U.S. leadership organization of prominent and extraordinary Chinese Americans in business, government, academia, healthcare, and the arts. Founded by the late world-renowned architect I.M. Pei and internationally acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, among others, it is an institution of U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage. For over 30 years, C100 has served as a preeminent organization committed to the dual missions of promoting the full participation of Chinese Americans in all aspects of American life and constructive relations between the United States and Greater China. www.committee100.org. Please follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for updates.