Monday, January 21, 2019

Chinese American Community Wounded by Latest Paranoia

The SF Chronicle asked me to write this piece. When Professor Larry Diamond declined to submit his side of this controversy, the Chronicle decided not to post mine.

A working group of 32 China hands published an assessment of possible infiltration of operatives from China in the US. In the 200+ page report published by Hoover Institution, the section on the PRC influence on Chinese American community raised concern and objections from the community.

The report listed a bunch of organizations and associations, primarily located in Chinatown of major US cities, San Francisco being most prominent, as likely being directed or influenced by China’s Communist Party.

Given America’s history of McCarthyism and xenophobia, the Chinese American community was understandably alarmed by the specter of mass arrest and concentration camps that could be just steps away.

Among the reaction of outrage, SB Woo, president of 80/20 Education Foundation, demanded that the working group provide evidence to back up their accusations that I am sympathetic to the goals of the CCP—I was the only individual named in the report.

In response, the co-chairs of the Hoover working group, led by Professor Larry Diamond at Stanford replied and offered as evidence that I have been listed as an advisor to the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China since the founding of the organization.

It’s true. I did attend the inaugural conference in Sydney and my friend who organized the event listed me as an advisor. I had good company as a number of former prime ministers of Australia were also named advisers.

Former President Bill Clinton gave the keynote at the conference—this was in 2002. Apparently he also endorsed the idea of the peaceful reunification of Taiwan with the mainland.

Diamond sees the CCP in Beijing as the behind the scenes organizer and instigator of these reunification councils. Promoting unification or advocating one China is antithetical to his strong feelings for the independence of Taiwan.

On the other hand, to the millions in the Chinese diaspora, no matter their family history, they remember the Ming dynasty general that evicted the Dutch and retook Taiwan in the 17th century. Zheng Chenggong is one historical figure still revered by the people on both sides of the straits today.

That China had to recover Taiwan from Japan after WWII became that much more a matter of emotional ethnic pride to think of Taiwan as part of China. Unabashedly, I consider myself one of them. Only a small fraction of those born in Taiwan would deny their Chinese heritage and roots.

In the Bay Area, supporters of the peaceful reunification come from all sorts of background. Allegiance to the CCP is not a necessary condition or a valid presumption.

Diamond’s field of study is democracy in governments and not on China. He sees Taiwan’s evolution toward democracy as all positive. I see Taiwan’s economic linkage to the mainland as far more crucial to Taiwan’s future than a government beset with its indigenous forms of corruption.

The best and brightest of graduates every year—some say around 30%--leave Taiwan for China to find their job and begin their career. Unless Taiwan can find a way to collaborate with Beijing, its outlook will remain bleak.

As a bicultural person, I see the perspective from both sides of the Pacific and I believe a Chinese American point of view can add greatly to the public discourse about the US China relations. I strongly object to having my loyalty impugned because I am willing to speak up.
 George Koo writes regularly for online Asia Times. Before his retirement, he advised US companies on doing business in Asia.

You are invited to leave your remarks on this blog or contact me at

SB Woo and the 80/20 Education Foundation has a running compilation of his blog kept in chronological order, most recent one being on top of the list. The series of his dissatisfaction with the Hoover Report can be found listed in the compilation.


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