Showing posts with label Chinese American Issues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chinese American Issues. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Chinese-American completes ‘long journey’ to justice - But does Sherry Chen’s legal victory signal the end of racial profiling by US authorities?

First posted in Asia Times. Sherry Chen threw a party last weekend to celebrate her legal victory over her former employer, the US Department of Commerce (DOC). The purpose of the party, Chen said, was to thank her many loyal supporters for standing with her throughout her “long journey seeking justice.” The celebration took place at a home in Palo Alto, California, belonging to Adrian and Monica Yeung Arima, where Chen was staying as their houseguest. Silicon Valley was where many of her supporters reside who donated to her legal defense fund and gave abiding moral support. Around a hundred attended the party. Long ordeal begins In October 2014, after a two-year investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation came to her workplace and took her away in handcuffs, to the shock and surprise of her colleagues. In March 2015, federal prosecutors dropped all charges without any explanation. That should have been the end of the Sherry Chen story, but it wasn’t. Amazingly, in March 2016, Chen, a hydrologist, was fired from her job with the National Weather Service (NWS) based on the same charges that had been discarded by the prosecutors. NWS is under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Asia Times described the twisted shenanigan that took place between the NWS and NOAA in order to formalize the paperwork for Chen’s dismissal – hint, the head of NWS wriggled and managed to stay out of the fray. Shocked by the development, she said to Asia Times, “Why do I have to accept the unfair and unjust treatment my government has given me? I am not just fighting for myself but for all victims of racial profiling so that it won’t happen again.” MSPB rules in her favor Chen then filed a complaint for wrongful termination with the Merit System Protection Board. The MSPB was established to protect federal workers against abuses by their employers. To the surprise of many, the chief administrative judge, Michele Schroeder, ruled in her favor as the victim of gross injustice. From the time she filed with the MSPB to reaching the verdict took one and a half years. Judge Schroeder order reinstatement with back pay and benefits. Historically, the odds of winning a ruling from the MSPB against the federal government had been less than one in a hundred. So, in April 2018, the verdict should have been the end of Chen’s journey and a cause for celebration. But it wasn’t, because the DOC filed an appeal, which needed to be heard by a quorum of two or more judges. At the time the MSPB had only one working judge, and therefore the appeal was sent into limbo. Was the DOC aware of the delay due to a technicality? Of course. On January 2019, Chen filed a civil lawsuit against the DOC alleging malicious prosecution and false arrest and sought $5 million for damages and compensation. In October 2021, the American Civil Liberties Union along with Cooley LLP, a major law firm headquartered in Palo Alto, joined her legal team in pursuing the suit. Finally, early this month, Chen along with ACLU announced a settlement that would pay her $550,000 and an annuity of $125,000 per year over the next 10 years. Thus she can claim a happy ending after a decade-long journey. “It’s an enormous victory for Ms Chen personally,” said Ashley Gorski, a senior staff lawyer with the ACLU National Security Project, “and for the Chinese-American community as well. The settlement makes clear that when the government discriminates, it’s going to be held accountable.” ACLU proclaims Chen’s win historic The ACLU called her settlement historic, unprecedented and the largest ever paid by the DOC. All true, but Chen’s win, in my view, just recovers her legal fees and back wages. And her case is just a beginning of possible rectification and does not signify the end of systemic racial profiling against Chinese-Americans by the US government. As I observed in 2015, “Rather than compiling evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, the FBI and fellow practitioners will jump at any flimsy thread of possible wrong doing, make a public arrest, send out a press release on their accusation and put the hapless Chinese American in detention. “When their findings are then subject to scrutiny and fail to pass muster, the charges are quietly dropped. By then, of course, the reputation of the person is in tatters and the victim’s life and finances are in ruin.” Since the celebrated Wen Ho Lee case and even earlier, to this day, Chinese-American scientists are considered guilty until proven innocent. The burden of proof is on the accused. In Sherry Chen’s case, even when proven innocent, the burden was still on her to fight for the justice that was her due. According to an article published last December by the MIT Technology Review, analyzing the so-called China Initiative launched by former US president Donald Trump, “To date, only about a quarter of defendants charged under the initiative have been convicted, and about half of those defendants with open charges have yet to see the inside of an American courtroom.” The remaining 25%, I surmise, had their charges quietly dismissed. Xiaoxing Xi also seeking justice In 2015, Xiaoxing Xi, professor of physics at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was arrested at gunpoint at his home in front of his wife and daughters by the FBI in a “daring” dawn raid. The DOJ subsequently dropped the charges, which could be considered a win for Xi because the department did not ask him to plead guilty to some minor misdemeanor in exchange. The government just hates to admit making an error, and will normally ask for a plea to some minor offense so the arrest can be scored in the win column. Wen Ho Lee, for example, had to plead guilty to downloading computer files in violation of regulations at the Los Alamos National Laboratory before obtaining release from nine months of solitary confinement and set free by the presiding judge. The judge expressed regret that Lee had to cop a plea and apologized to him for government’s gross misconduct. Many other Chinese-Americans victimized by the FBI and DOJ have had to plea-bargain so that they can go on with their lives and cut the financial bleeding from the legal fees. It’s always a challenge to take on the US government in a legal dispute. Compared with the individual, the government has infinite resources and time on their side. Like Sherry Chen did, Professor Xi is also suing the US government and FBI agents for knowingly misrepresenting evidence as the basis for his arrest and the consequent trauma he suffered. The ACLU is also part of his legal team and he is hoping for an eventually favorable ruling. Gang Chen, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), appeared in a panel discussion along with Sherry Chen and Dr Xi at a conference in San Francisco, held a day after Chen’s legal victory was announced. The subject was racial profiling and discrimination against Chinese-American scientists. The fourth speaker was Jeremy Wu, founder of APA Justice, responsible for diligently tracking the government’s judiciary abuses. Gang Chen has similar FBI encounter Professor Chen was more fortunate than his fellow panelists. According to The New York Times, as soon as he found that he was under investigation, his employer, MIT, hired outside legal counsel to advise him along the way. One early morning in January 2021, a gang of more than 10 FBI agents came to his home to handcuff him and take him away for interrogation. He was released that afternoon, but he had to stay away from the campus and make no contact with any MIT employees. That September, Professor Chen’s lawyer reported good news from the prosecutor’s office. If Chen would admit to having certain contacts in China, the charges would be dismissed and the case dropped. While his lawyer thought the offer was a safe, risk-free deal to get off, Chen refused. Since he had done nothing wrong, he did not think he had to make the deal. A full year later, in January 2022, all charges against Professor Chen were dropped and he resumed his work at MIT. He was more fortunate than most because Rafael Reif, then president of MIT, supported him from the inception of the government investigation and the school pick up his legal bill. His fellow faculty vigorously rallied to his defense and protested his innocence. Others in similar debacles have been much worse off. Their university employers quickly cut them loose and hung them out to dry. By the time the charges are dropped, they may or may not be reinstated, their reputations have been tainted and their bank accounts greatly depleted by the fees for legal defense. At least 1,400 US-based ethnic Chinese scientists switched their affiliation last year from American to Chinese institutions, according to a joint report by academics from Harvard, Princeton and MIT. The trend is increasing thanks to the China Initiative established by Donald Trump and only recently canceled by President Joe Biden. The original intent of the initiative was to curb exchange of scientific informative between the US and China. It turned into a witch-hunt that ran amok. For ethnic Chinese, working in science and technology in the US has become hazardous, risking out-of-the-blue arrests and third-degree grilling about one’s loyalty. The way to stop the brain drain from the US is to enact regulations and laws that will punish prosecutions based on lies, falsified evidence, and hiding exculpable evidence. Anti-Chinese hate crimes must not be tolerated, especially when the perpetrator is the government. Provisions need to be in place for victims of wrongful prosecution to be promptly compensated for damages and legal fees. Only then can a brain drain of Chinese scientists and researchers slow – and perhaps reverse.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Confessions of a disgruntled Chinese-American. Heaven help any aspiring leader who wants to correct America’s problems at home and campaign on what the US needs to fix.

First posted on Asia Times. I am proud to be an 84-year-old Chinese-American: proud of my Chinese heritage and at one time proud to be an American. My friends frequently ask me why I am so critical of our government. I tell them that as a citizen, I have a right and duty to criticize when I see my country heading in the wrong direction. It has not always been like this. One of my proudest moments was when I became a naturalized citizen many years ago. To be an American was something to be proud of and look forward to. I thought I was enjoying a charmed life and living in the best of two worlds. Before I immigrated to America, I lived in China for my first 11 years, a country devastated by war with Japan. But I had the good fortune of living in a remote area of China that never saw one Japanese soldier. Thus I didn’t have to witness the many unspeakable acts of atrocity committed by the Japanese military. When my mom, my sisters and I joined my dad in Seattle, he was a graduate student on a very limited income. We lived in the university housing project where each duplex was modestly better than a Quonset hut. But we lived within the district of one of the best elementary schools in town. At Laurelhurst Elementary, my classmates, mostly from well-to-do families, helped me learn English as quickly as I could absorb it. A friend gave me helmet and shoulder pads and I quickly learned to play football. At no time did I feel the sting of racism. My welcome to America was all cookies and cream. I graduated at the top of my senior class and received a scholarship and part-time job on campus to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. By the time I became a young father raising a family in New Jersey, I was the supervisor of a materials-testing laboratory. My company encouraged me to complete my doctoral studies by giving me leave and financial support. I was living my American dream. I even participated in exercising American democracy by becoming a grassroots worker campaigning for delegates going to the Democratic National Convention to cast their votes for Eugene McCarthy as the party’s presidential nominee. But watching the 1968 Chicago convention on national TV, I was appalled and outraged. Mayor Richard Daley’s police force was supposed to maintain law and order. Instead, they were instigators of violence and chaos, clubbing the protesters outside the convention. I wrote a letter to the Newark Evening News, a major daily in New Jersey, expressing my indignation. To my surprise, my letter was published. That encouragement caused me to think that expressing my opinion could make a difference. After I moved my family to California, I continued to participate in civic affairs and local politics. I was the campaign manager for two friends running for the city council – at different times. One won and the other did not. When my city decided to establish a “Human Relations Commission,” I was appointed to the first one. One of my commendations read: “His service demonstrates his commitment to the community and the desire to promote the fullest participation of all members of the community.” When Mike Honda decided to run for Congress and asked for my help, I was happy to help because he was an honorable and genuine human being with a generous heart. He won on his first try and when we met for lunch to celebrate, he told me that his first task at hand was to raise a lot of money for his campaign war chest so that potential opponents would think twice about running to unseat him. His revelation surprised me but also drove home to me the realization that money had taken control of our democracy. Fast-forward to today, and I keep asking myself, “Why has my country fallen so low?” We can’t seem to keep up with other developed countries that are our peers. We unfailingly acknowledge the importance of education as critical to the future of our children, but we only talk and don’t do anything about it. The quality of education depends on the average household income in the local area where the school is located. Children from the city ghettoes hardly ever get a decent education and thus start out in life with a disadvantage that many are not equipped to overcome. In some parts of our country teaching creationism has the same legitimacy as teaching science and mathematics. Some Americans still believe that our Earth is 6,000 years old. Ignorance is regarded as a badge of honor. Thou shalt not commit perjury “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” I may have learned the oath from the long-running TV serial Perry Mason, but I came to understand that honesty and being truthful were among the foundational principles that made America great. Today, public figures of any and all stripes tell lies and do not even bat an eyelash. They violate every statute of the constitution as if the laws of the land do not apply to them. There is no sense of honor and right or wrong or even any hint of shame. Our two major political parties battle for control of the federal government and Congress. They devote virtually all of their energy and attention to outmaneuvering the other side just to gain an edge. Getting re-elected and retaining their seats in Congress have highest priority unless it’s to unseat someone from the other party. Pettiness reigns and national interest is rarely on the table. My e-mail inbox is filled daily with solicitations from candidates running for public office asking me for a campaign contribution. People I have never heard of, running for the House or Senate or governor from a state far from California, and they don’t ever ask what issues I support. They simply presume that I care about their getting elected. They just want my money. If I can write a big check, they will come running again and again. If I don’t write checks but can “bundle” a lot of checks from other contributors into a bagful, I will be regarded as a person of influence. America’s democracy is all about money and it takes more and more to enter the fray. Thoughtful and capable politicians are getting out. Our roads and bridges are dilapidated, college and university tuition has been rising beyond most household budgets, women are denied the right to decide what’s good for their health, and schoolchildren are regularly slaughtered in mass shootings. These are just a few indicators of what’s wrong with America. Heaven help any aspiring leader who wants to correct the problems at home and campaign on what America needs to fix. Such a candidate won’t get financial sponsors and won’t get nominated, much less win any election. Incumbents will not risk their chances of re-election by tackling these knotty issues and are very adept at kicking the can down the road. Anti-China chorus The one sure-fire way to political success is to demonize China and attack China as our adversary, an easy adversary accepted by both parties. In the process, every ethnic Asian in America becomes a prospective target of hate crime, because “all Asians look alike.” To add fuel to the fire, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation even boasted about the many cases of investigation opened daily on Chinese-Americans employed in American universities and research organizations. He never talks about the disproportionate number of cases that were dismissed or dropped because of lack of evidence or the FBI’s haste to accuse. He doesn’t acknowledge the financial ruin suffered by the innocent victims because of the cost of their legal defense and their having to deal with careers in tatters. A senator from Arkansas even suggested that students from China should not be allowed to come to the US for further studies in science and engineering but only on Shakespeare. Indeed, because of arbitrary prosecutions, random violence from hate crimes and uncertain treatment on granting of visas, enrollment from China has already dropped substantially. There is nothing to suggest that this trend is likely to reverse. Heretofore, Chinese-Americans have contributed far more than their pro rata would indicate. They come to America as part of China’s cream of the crop, already well trained and prepared to contribute with diligence and motivation. If they stop coming, it will be America’s loss. Meanwhile, Washington is investing all its energy on pushing China’s head under water, all the while not doing anything to solve the social and economic ills rooted within our country. China will continue to work around the American embargoes and sanctions and surpass the US with one technological advance after another. It already has taken the lead in many technical disciplines, Shakespearean scholarship not being among them.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Kamala Harris, a role model for all generations

This was written for Asia Pacific Islander American Public Affairs and posted on the APAPA website. By becoming the Vice President elect of the United States of America, Kamala Harris has achieved three historic firsts. She will be America’s first woman Vice President, and she will be the first woman of African descent and first woman of Indian descent to serve in that second highest office in the land. She praised President elect Joe Biden for the audacity to pick a female of color to be his running mate, breaking all traditions and precedents. In turn, Kamala deserves our admiration and thanks for accepting the role and subjecting herself to abusive attacks from racists that would reject her just because of her ethnicity. She is clearly comfortable in her own skin. In one of her interviews, she said, “My point was: I am who I am. I’m good with it. You might need to figure it out, but I’m fine with it.” It’s obvious that her self-confidence and sense of self comes from her upbringing by her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who was Kamala’s single parent since Kamala was 7. At every public remark, Kamala never failed to evoke the memory of her mother and talked about her impact as Kamala’s mentor. Sadly, Shyamala lived only long enough to witness Kamala’s first election to public office as San Francisco District Attorney in 2003. Kamala’s mother died of colon cancer in 2009. Kamala went on to become the Attorney General of California is 2010 and junior Senator from California in 2016. Kamala won every election she ran for and made history in every case as the first woman of color to hold that office. Not just a capable campaigner for public office, she discharged the duties and responsibilities of her office most admirably. When she first began her political career by running for the district attorney, her good friend Julie D. Soo, attorney for California Department of Insurance and community activist, brought her around to introduce her to the large Chinese community in San Francisco. Julie’s father gave Kamala a Chinese name that implied Kamala and Julie are honorary siblings. Kamala promptly learned to say her name in Cantonese, the dialect popular with the community in Chinatown. The Asian side of Kamala came from her mother who came to study at UC Berkeley at the age of 19. Shyamala was not your typical student from India. She fitted right in the Berkeley scene and participated in the civil rights movement. Her father, P.V. Gopalan, was progressive and unconventional enough to encourage his oldest daughter and helped her financially. A career civil servant of limited means, he nonetheless saw his four offspring graduate from college with advanced degrees. Shyamala earned her PhD in endocrinology from UC Berkeley. Kamala said that her grandfather’s progressive views of democracy and women’s rights, especially their right to education, made a strong impression on her. She kept in touch with her relatives in the Chennai area with periodic visits. Her Asian values came from her upbringing and the influence of a close-knit family. The people of San Francisco Bay area are rightly proud of their native daughter. As Vice President, Kamala is one heartbeat from the Oval Office and has made it possible for Asian Americans to feel that they have seats at the table. As Asian Americans we share her values, admire her assertiveness, and proud of her accomplishments. Because of her, we can hope to regain our place in America and not worry about random accusation of spy charges and sudden questions of our loyalty. Now we can say to our children and grandchildren, especially the daughters, “Look at what a daughter of first-generation immigrant parents can accomplish. Kamala has broken through the highest glass ceiling for you. If you study hard in school and take pride in your Asian American legacy, the opportunities can be limitless.”

Friday, October 30, 2020

Should Biden adopt Pompeo’s style of diplomacy?

The concluding article of a two-part report offers recommendations on what a Biden administration's China policy should be. Co-written with K J Noh and first posted in Asia Times. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is not known to be a particularly original thinker. Every time he attacks China, alleging misbehavior, theft of intellectual property (IP) is always on top of his list of accusations. This is an American complaint about China that dates back to the 1990s and is regularly dusted off for reuse. Lacking literacy in technology, Pompeo does not appear to understand that the nature of IP in technology evolves and changes rapidly. The leader of a particular discipline today can quickly become a follower tomorrow. To compete, companies in Silicon Valley regularly steal, infringe, copy or share by cross-licensing technology to keep up. Chinese technology companies are not averse to using the same strategy. They nick IP when they can, they copy – euphemistically called “reverse engineering” – when they can, and they enter licensing agreements when necessary. The only difference is that the Chinese companies didn’t just stop there but went on to invest in their own research and develop their own proprietary IP. One example is Huawei. Huawei employed 96,000 researchers and spent US$17 billion on research and development in 2019 alone. Not surprisingly, it holds 85,000 patents, including 19% of all standard-essential patents in fifth-generation (5G) telecom technology. Because Chinese engineers are generally better trained, are more motivated and work harder than their American counterparts – and there are many more graduates in this field every year – some Chinese companies have introduced products and technology not seen in the US. Indeed, Pompeo doesn’t appreciate that in some technical disciplines, China has already surpassed the US, and the gap will only increase with time. To suppress China’s technological advances, Pompeo’s approach is to harass Chinese executives, threaten sanctions to restrict their international travel, and bring about sudden unannounced arrests in transit lounges. By denying access to technologies and products where the US is more advanced, such as semiconductor manufacturing, he expects the Chinese to stop dead in their tracks. Unfortunately for the US, the blowback to his approach has near and long-term consequences. An immediate consequence is a significant drop in sales of semiconductor chips to China. Previously, almost 40% of the US output was sold to China. Now, it’s possible that unsold chips will be keeping company with sacks of unsold soybeans. Sadly, American companies can only watch their former advantages get washed down to the sewer by the actions of their own government. Once China has overcome the shock of doing without advanced US technology, companies such as Huawei will press all the harder to develop their own indigenous replacements for the American products. At some point, Silicon Valley will permanently lose a customer and gain a formidable competitor. Pompeo’s simple-minded technology war with China extends to cutting off enrollment of Chinese students in American universities, especially at the graduate-school level. His thinking, shared by many of his Republican colleagues, is that the best and brightest from China come to the country for the express purpose of stealing from the US. In actual fact, first-tier graduate schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) or University of California at Berkeley would be reduced to a mere shadow of their former robustness if they only had US-born-and-educated students to staff their research labs. China annually generates roughly 10 times as many graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as the US. Skimming the best from a population 10 times as large is bound to yield candidates with more impressive credentials. Furthermore, colleges and universities in China demand and expect more from their students before allowing them to graduate. If President Donald Trump’s administration really cared about “making America great,” it should have actively welcomed students from China and found ways to entice them to stay and work in the US. Instead, Pompeo and his State Department have introduced deliberate ambiguity on approval of their visa applications, raising doubts on whether they can attend and can count on completing their studies. When Chinese students stop coming Pompeo’s tactics have succeeded. A significant number of Chinese students are changing their plans and deciding against going to the US. About 6,000 Chinese nationals used to obtain their doctoral degrees in science and engineering from American institutions annually. That number will surely decline. Thanks to Trump’s persistent show of xenophobia insisting that China is to blame for the Covid-19 epidemic in the US, the frequency of physical violence against Asians in America has risen drastically. Pompeo’s wish is thus being fulfilled as increasing number of Chinese are going back to China. They are not sticking around to “steal” high-paying jobs from Americans. The case of Cao Yuan comes to mind. He was a physics doctoral candidate at MIT who went home to China for the summer. Then he found out that US Immigration might not allow him to return. His suspension was lifted only after MIT interceded on his behalf. After getting his degree this year, Cao immediately announced his intention to go back to China. America may come to rue this development. For his discovery of room-temperature superconductivity, the journal Nature recognized Cao as first among the top 10 who mattered in science in 2018. When superconductivity becomes common in daily use, China will be massively ahead of the US. Trump and Pompeo may be remembered for their ignorance of what superconductivity was all about. As we can see from this brief survey, Secretary Pompeo is like that overeager player on a soccer team who not only messes up all the plays, but actually scores errant own-goals. There has rarely been such a continuous string of diplomatic defeats and faux pas: If this were a game, he would have been fouled out, traded, or sold long ago. Yet he continues to lead the US into a diplomatic abyss. Pompeo’s boss is also doing his utmost to shake the American people’s confidence in democracy. When Trump asks voters to break the law and cast their ballot twice, he is challenging the legitimacy of mail-in ballots and making it difficult to vote as an absentee or in person. He can then cry foul over the very voter suppression that he has created. Small wonder that three of the world’s oldest and most prestigious scientific publications, Scientific American, New England Journal of Medicine and Nature, could no longer stand idle while Trump made a mockery of democracy. They broke a historic precedent to remain apolitical and publicly endorsed his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, for president. Assuming that Trump does not succeed in stealing the coming election, what would a Biden presidency do? Should the Biden administration go down the same self-destructive rabbit hole? “Dying is easy, comedy is hard,” say performers, but Pompeo’s diplomatic comedy is actually deadly and destructive to the world and the US. Will Biden continue the same dying and deadly stand-up routine in front of a global public that has already left the theater? Will he double down on the lies and the farce? Biden has apparently adopted the China policy statements from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), the reconstituted neocon think-tank from the George W Bush years, as his template for foreign policy on China. This is not encouraging. They have grandfathered in all of Trump’s Sinophobic policies and worked out in obsessive detail to further acts of confrontation and escalation. How Biden can save America To avoid hurtling over the precipice and turning America away from economic and military disaster, we recommend that the Biden presidency take the following actions: Drop CNAS from the foreign-policy advisory committee. The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) led us to the disastrous Middle East quagmire. In a similar fashion, CNAS will lead us into catastrophic war with China. Drop Michèle Flournoy and the old “blue team” neocon or “Pacific pivot” holdovers. They have no business doing politics, given their atrocious records. Facilitate the release of Meng Wanzhou from Canadian custody immediately, and apologize for her kidnapping. Her only crime is being the daughter of the chief executive of a Chinese company the US wants to destroy. Apologize for Biden calling President Xi Jinping a “thug.” The only justification for insulting a head of state in that manner is if you intend to go to war. Stop the “freedom of navigation operations“ (FONOPs) and other belligerent military maneuvers in the South China Sea. Halfway around the world is not your back yard, and besides, the Chinese have no reason to interfere in any of the shipping – it’s all headed for or leaving China. Stop the harassment of Huawei and its supply chain. Compete properly or cede the field, but don’t kidnap its executives. Same for TikTok, Tencent, and Ant Financial. Stop militarizing Taiwan. Stop building an embassy there. Stop using airbases there. Don’t mislead Taiwan into thinking that if it provokes a conflict, the US will come to its aid. Taiwan is part of China, and Taipei and Beijing need to resolve their differences without Uncle Sam in the room. Shut up about Xinjiang. It’s all lies, and the longer you keep up the lies, the more embarrassing when you get found out. Uighur terrorists who fought for al-Qaeda do not become “freedom fighters” when they go back to Xinjiang. Shut up about Hong Kong. Hong Kong is part of China, and it has no capacity or desire to be independent (it gets its food, water, and electricity from mainland China). Funding black-shirted fascists will only result in catastrophe. Shut up about Covid-19. Get your house in order. Implement real public health measures, and a people-centered medical-insurance program. Stop the harassment of scholars and students. The US without Chinese scholars and engineers is a country of MBAs, JDs and gun-toting survivalists – an unproductive failed state heading for a surreal apocalypse. Stop trying to derail the Belt and Road Initiative, and for God’s sake, stop waging wars, coups, assassinations, and explosions in its key nodes. Imagine what it could be like, collaborating in peace, open trade based on relative advantages, and exchange of ideas and people in friendship. America cannot win and China cannot win in a zero-sum game. But China is no threat to the US, and it is no pushover either. Biden can and should make the bold move to the northeast quadrant of game theory where both can win and prosper. This is the concluding article of a two-part report. Read Part 1 here. George Koo is a retired international business adviser and frequent contributor to Asia Times. K J Noh is a journalist, political analyst, writer, and teacher specializing in the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific region.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Republican campaign strategy: blame it all on China

First posted in Asia Times.

Republican campaign strategy: blame it all on China
It’s official now. For the coming election, the Republican Party will bet the house blaming everything on China. The 57 page “Corona Big Book” prepared by O’Donnell and Associates, the party’s strategist, outlined all the waysto lay the blame on China, to accuse the Democrats for being soft on China and to vow to make China pay for the coronavirus.
This GOP strategy leaves no room for Joe Biden and the Democrats to out trump Trump. The “Book” also recommends not to bother defending President Donald Trump. In other words, all offense and no defense. Presumably, the strategists are clear-eyed and can see that Trump is not defensible.
The PBS Newshourreported that at the daily coronavirus briefing Trump spoke, on the average, four times longer than the combined times for his two scientific advisors, Drs. Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci. His White House staff, not wishing to see daily displays riddled with gaffs, wanted to cancel these briefing, but Trump refused because he doesn’t want to miss any opportunity for exposure on national TV. 
Bleach as home remedy
Needless to say, his off-the-cuff utterances can become rich material for the Biden camp to build into campaign spots. Why not, for example, interview some New Yorker who drank bleach as a cure for Covid-19 and ask that person what he/she thought of Trump prescribing without a license?
A key part of the GOP strategy is to accuse China of months of cover up and hiding the virus from the world. Many, including me, have not been able to find any possible gaps in the timeline communicated from China that could span anywhere close to a month. 
A more recentanalysiswas posted last week by Vijay Prashad. He carefully examined the events inside China and the Chinese interaction with the World Health Organization from December 31 to the end of January. He could not find any supporting evidence for even the one western mediathat claimed China withheld information on the outbreak for 6 days from January 14 to 20.
From January 24, 2020 to February 20, researchersfrom China published 15 scientific articles in New England Journal of MedicineLancetand Journal of American Medical Association, each paper reporting on the ongoing progress on their investigations of the novel coronavirus. Publishing at such a rate in peer reviewed scientific journals was phenomenal and hardly consistent with any conspiracy to withhold data and information from the world. 
Trump abetted by Dr. Deborah Birx also pointed to the orders of magnitude lower death rate from China compared to the western countries as a clear indication that China has been lying. Not so fast, said John Walshin Asia Times. China’s death rate was consistent with neighboring countries in Asia and Australia. 
The real difference was that western countries ignored the lessons learned in China while the neighbors in Asia did not. Lockdown and social distance were absolutely necessary to flatten the curve and bring the contagion to heel, which many states in America were observing more in the breach. 
If the Biden advisers decide to mine the alluvial nuggets that Trump has carelessly strewed about and treat them as issues to draw attention to his ineptitude and disqualifiers as president, they can start with the Covid-19 timeline in the U.S. There are many versions and this is just one. This timeline compilation identified the days Trump played golf, the days spent on the road campaigning, and a list of all the inconsistent and contradictory statements he made to the press. 
Intriguingly enough, the timeline said Trump was first warned about the virus on January 8, which he ignored.
Timeline exposes Trump’s malfeasance
It turned out that the head of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention had contacted the U.S. counterpart in Atlanta on January 3to inform Dr. Robert Redfield of the appearance of as yet unidentified, pneumonia inducing virus. It took a few days for this news to filter its way through Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, to Trump. According to insiders, Trump either did not regard Azar highly or the department particularly important or both and did not take the report seriously.
If a cover-up took place, it was due to Trump’s negligence and not taking his responsibility seriously. Looking at the timetable, the Biden camp can see that Trump frittered away more than 6 weeks. Those were precious period that the Trump White House should have been using to mobilize the nation and prepare to deal with the invasion of Covid-19. 
Laying the blame on China is to distract and take attention away from the malfeasance of the Trump administration. Other than Trump’s core team, everybody else in the world understands that the blame game accomplishes nothing, and worldwide collaboration is required to bring the pandemic under control.
There is another reason to take a different approach to using the Covid-19 as a campaign issue. By calling the novel coronavirus the Chinese virus, the Trump administration has made Asians living in America targets of racial epithets and physical attacks. There are around 20 million Asian Americans in America. Biden can win their support by just referring the virus as Covid-19, the official WHO designated name. Of course, proactively defending Asian American civil rights would also be the right thing to do.
The other part of the GOP strategy is to accuse Biden and the Democratic Party for being soft on China. What should Biden do? To deny being soft on China or to show that he is tougher on China than Trump would be a losing proposition. Every denial would prompt another challenge until the defense runs out of responses. 
Instead the Biden camp should turn the issue on its head and examine what Trump being “hard” on China has done for the American people.
Trump’s damage
The most obvious is the tariff war initiated by Trump. Biden’s team of economists should study the amount of “free” money collected from the tariff for America (a point of pride for Trump) vs. how much businesses and farmers lost in export sales. Also, how much prices went up because of the duty on imports from China and therefore the rise in cost of living for the American people. 
Trump equates free trade to be equal bi-direction volume of trade and considers trade deficit to be a personal affront. When Trump launched the trade war, he thought he would reduce the trade imbalance. The last time I looked in Augustlast year, the trade deficit with China actually increased and had not narrowed.
Candidate Biden also needs to think about the difficult tasks after the election if he wins. If the pandemic is still around, he will have to work with China to fight the contagion together. If the infections are already under control, he will need to come up with a mutually beneficial economic expansion plan to help the US recover. 
He will face a tough challenge. The animosity toward China has been stoked to hystericallevels by partisans on the left and the right. The tension was heightened by the novel coronavirus. Biden will need the courage and wisdom to articulate a vision where China and the U.S. doesn’t have to be friends but can openly trade and do business together. The more activity the two countries do together, the more they will stimulate each other’s economy and hasten recovery.
The International Monetary Fund is calling the pandemic “the great lockdown” and a crisis like no other in history. Their best guess projection for the global economic growth in 2020 is an unprecedented negative 3%. The U.S. is projected to shrink by -5.9%. The only economies expected to end the year on the plus side are China at 1.2% and India at 1.9%.
A lot of uncertainties and unknown lie ahead. The actual economic projections could be way off but the relative difference IMF assigns for China and the U.S. is saying that should the two countries continue to exchange body blows, China will emerge better off than the U.S. even if both end up losers.
Such dire IMF forecast should fortify Biden as he dismisses the right wing pushing to totally decouple with China. No one spelled out the insanity of decoupling with China more lucidly than Peter Beinart in the Atlantic.The Biden brain trust would do well to study this essay carefully and map out a plan for the future for growth, and avoid the destructive path Trump has embarked.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Urgent Course Correction Needed for Biden

This was first posted in Asia Times.

Last week I suggested that getting along with China would be essential to making America better. I had Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden in mind when I wrote that commentary.
When I saw Biden’s first campaign TV spot positioning him to be a more emphatic China basher than Donald Trump, I was deeply troubled. Promptly, I did an e-mail blast to my friends with my piece attached urging them to forward it to Biden’s camp.
One friend was quick to react. He said he had contacted someone in Washington close to the Biden campaign and shown him my piece. That person said that if I made a sizable donation to the campaign, I could join in a Zoom videoconference and tell Biden personally.

‘Pay to play’ the rot of politics

I didn’t even bother to check on the minimum buy-in required. I don’t believe, and never have, that the exercise of democracy should be based on “pay as you go.”

A group of WeChat members, all first-generation immigrants to the US from the People’s Republic of China, read my piece and asked me to lead a discussion on how to support Biden. Yes, WeChat is an app from China, but participation is open to anyone.
First, I am going to tell them that they do not have to kiss up to the Biden camp. As an organized group of voters, they can expect to be heard. The bigger the group, the louder is their voice.
They should inform the Biden organizers that bashing China as a campaign issue has reached the point of diminishing return. Rather than a tired and worn-out subject, the pandemic is a real adversary for the US, and Trump’s response amply displays his ineptitude and incompetence. 

To win, just present facts on Trump

Every week, the Biden camp simply needs to compile and publish a list of falsehoods, failures to deliver, contradictions and position reversals from Trump to show the American people that he has been an abject failure as president.

Monday, June 10, 2019

U.S. will regret persecuting Chinese American scientists

This was first posted in Asia Times.

In February 2018, Senator Marco Rubio asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to comment on the counterintelligence risk posed by Chinese students in the US. Wray basically said China’s threat is not just a whole-of-government threat but a whole-of-society threat. 

In other words, every Chinese, foreign or American, is a potential spy. Since then Wray has consistently hewed to that point of view in his public speeches and testimony.

What Wray said was nothing new but merely a reflection of institutional racial bias that has characterized the FBI since inception. J. Edgar Hoover, the first director and known for his homophobic bias, saw a commie under every bed and every minority person a security threat.

But it could be said that the exchange at the Congressional hearing with the smirking Rubio marked the beginning of turning on the surveillance screws on Chinese in America be they visitors from China or permanent residents in the US.

The consequent collateral damage from the clampdown has been on prominent Chinese American scientists and on the long-term interest of America. For certain, these developments won’t make America great again.

Emory dismissals latest in a series against Chinese Americans

The most recent victims of apparent xenophobia were a husband and wife team doing work at the medical school of Emory University. Professor Li Xiaojiang has been a tenured professor since 2005. He and his co-director wife, Li Shihua, contributed breakthrough research on Huntington’s disease through genetic engineering, as one of their notable contributions.

Their abrupt dismissal and shutdown of their laboratory was a shock and surprise. The explanation points to White House pressure on National Institutes of Health to crackdown on the possibility of sharing of research results with China. 

Last August, NIH director Francis Collins sent a letter to more than 10,000 American institutes warning about “foreign entities interfering in funding, research and peer review of NIH projects.”

Even though Li’s laboratory received $1.7 million from NIH as recently as fiscal 2018, it would appear that holding dual academic appointments in China and Emory has suddenly became unacceptable and qualified as interference defined by Collins. 

The Li’s have been visiting and teaching in China since 2007 and they claimed that they have always reported their activities in China to Emory. Under the traditions of normal international academic exchange, it was not a problem but is now a problem because of xenophobic policies instituted by the Trump administration.

According to the university, “Emory also takes very seriously its obligation to be a good steward of federal research dollars and to ensure compliance with all funding disclosures and other requirements.” Apparently to the Emory leadership, the threat of agencies withholding federal funding outweighs the importance of academic freedom and human decency.

Prior to Emory’s dismissal of the Li’s, MD Anderson Cancer Center also responded to the NIH letter and began to take action against three Chinese American scientists, two of whom elected to resign rather than endure the review process. 

These are medical research projects whose objectives are to benefit the human race, for heaven’s sake.

Climate change scientist was another

Perhaps one of the most sensational cases recently was Wang Chunzai, another naturalized American citizen. A one-time much published and decorated climate scientist and long-time employee of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he was arrested and charged with accepting payment from China, apparently for about $2000 expense reimbursement that he failed or forgot to report.

By the time, his case came to trial, Wang told his attorney that he wanted to cop a plea to one felony charge and move on with his life. His defense counsel and the prosecuting attorney settled on dismissing all other charges in exchange for guilty plea to one count for time already served, which amounted to the one night when he was arrested. 

The presiding judge was reluctant to make Wang a convicted felon, but Wang explained that once he was arrested, he knew his future in the US was cooked, and he had already lined up a job in China. He couldn’t risk losing his appointment in China because of a lengthy trial. 

Wang is now a member of China’s Academy of Sciences and leading a group doing climate research. This is the kind of work he loves and will be doing it in a country that believes in the need to understand climate change. This is far more important to him than being labeled a convicted felon in the US.

Before Trump’s administration, it was accepted practice that Chinese American scientists—and non-ethnic Chinese as well--can collaborate with counterparts in China, consistent with the tradition of open academic exchange. Many prominent professors from the US held dual appointments. To encourage more visiting scientists, Beijing even instituted a “thousand talents” program. 

Thousand talents program a lightning rod for persecution

The Trump China team considers the thousand talents program as a means for China to gain access to US technology and knowledge. Thus, known participants in the program are targeted for investigation and subsequent prosecution. Ironically, profiling those on the talents program actually facilitates China’s recruitment.

For example, no sooner than when the Li’s were dismissed by Emory, the university in southern China, where Li’s regularly visited, immediately extended employment offer for the two of them to continue their work. The offer came with fully equipped laboratory and even employment for every member of their research team left stranded by Emory.

It would appear that history is repeating itself all over again. In the 1950’s during the hysteria of McCarthyism, the American government hounded the brilliant rocket scientist, Qian Xuesen, a Chinese American and founder of Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. His plan was always to stay in the US but the federal government basically gift wrapped him and sent him to Beijing where he led China’s missile and rocket development.

If America now considers China a military threat, the US has the late Senator Joe McCarthy to thank.

Seeing that the US continue to push the best and brightest out of the US, the next generation of best and brightest from China are losing interest in coming to the US to study. This trend hurts America in at least two ways. 

Discouraging Chinese students from coming will hurt the US more

China has been the source of around one-third of all the international students entering the US, and more Chinese students major in science, technology, engineering or math, so called STEM, than any other country. If they stop coming, many research labs will dry up for lack of graduate students to do the work. Lower tiered schools will also face budget constraint as they are deprived of the full tuition fees that foreign students pay.

China with the four times the population of the US generates more than ten times of university graduates in STEM than the US. Rather than discouraging Chinese students from coming, the US should be devising ways to skim off the best and brightest and entice them to come. 

It’s possible the Luddites in the Trump administration do not understand that students do not come to steal but to work on furthering the knowledge of STEM. They probably also assume that America continue to hold the keys to all scientific advances, even those developed by immigrants from all over. 

In reality, the work by graduates and post-doctoral fellows benefits the school they attend and the country they reside in. 

Consistent with their ignorance, the Trump administration is making it more difficult for students from China to obtain their visas in a timely manner and perhaps not at all after unexplained delay. 

Cao Yuan is the latest victim. He is a prodigy from China now pursuing a doctorate at MIT. He was voted by the prestigious Nature as the first of the ten people who mattered (in science) in 2018. 

Cao discovered that he can achieve superconductivity at room temperature with twisted graphene sheets. In China for a home visit, the visa office at the American consulate is apparently holding up his visa that would enable his return to the US.

It’s not as if Chinese graduate students have to study in the US as a necessary precondition to success. Pan Jianwei did his graduate work in physics in Vienna. He helped China launched the world’s first quantum science satellite to established hack-proof communication between China and Europe. 

His advisor in Vienna was his collaborator. They named the satellite Micius after a 5thcentury BC scientist, a subtle reminder that China was doing science long before there was a United States of America.

What matters is that having to deal with the capricious nature of the American visa offices, Chinese students are increasingly favoring elsewhere over the US. Someday the US may come to realize that they needed the students from China more than the students needed to study in the US.

Liu Yuanli is the Dean of Peking Union Medical College, School of Public Health and one time first dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health. He said, “The restriction on Chinese scholars and students are irrational and go against the very core value that makes US a great nation.” 

Superconductivity that does not require near absolute zero cooling would be a breakthrough on the level of cold fusion and the magic bullet for tumor cells. Just think, whether commercial application of room temperature superconductivity would be first introduced in China or in the US could depend on the whim of some American visa granting clerk. 

That visa clerk may not understand the significance of Cao’s discovery any better than the White House. Sad.

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.


Saturday, January 19, 2019

Paranoia not any good for US China relations

This was first posted on Asia Times.

The Hoover Institution published a report late last year presenting an assessment of China’s infiltration into all walks of American life by a “working group” of pundits and academics. The report recommended “constructive vigilance,” and I thought it unnecessarily added to America’s already heightened paranoia about China.

S B Woo joins the discussion

Then S B Woo, president of the 80-20 Educational Foundation, stepped forward to express outrage in an indignant letterto the co-chairmen of the working group. He accused the authors of the report of McCarthyism by implying that the Chinese-American community has been under pressure from the Chinese diplomatic missions in the US to support China’s party line.
Woo specifically demanded that they provide evidence to back up their accusation that I am openly sympathetic to the goals of the Communist Party of China (CPC). If you have evidence, please share it with me and the entire Chinese-American community,” he said. “If you don’t, then I demand that you retract the statement and apologize to the entire Chinese community and George Koo.”

Woo pioneered the idea that if 80% of Asian-American voters were to vote the same way, then despite their relatively small numbers, they could effectively swing state and national elections. Woo’s movement has attracted a national following.

Therefore, when Woo sent a second follow-up letter, the leaders of the working group quickly responded with a letter signed by co-chairmen Larry Diamond and Orville Schelland group participant John Pomfret. Woo shared their letter with me so that I could respond.

The most interesting “aha, caught you with your hand in the cookie jar” accusation in the letter was that I have been listed as an adviser to the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China since the founding of that organization.

What’s wrong with peaceful reunification?

Absolutely true, guilty as charged. I have never deviated from the idea that Taiwan is part of China, and therefore how can I not support the idea of peaceful reunification?

I saw attending the 2002 inaugural conference on reunification as a way to support a close friend who was the organizer, to visit Sydney for the first time, and to be assured of good company, because former US president Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker.

Apparently, Clinton didn’t see anything wrong with peaceful reunification either.

Diamond’s letter claimed that the United Front of Chinese political parties created these councils around the world as a “lobbying wing” and implied that the United Front being affiliated with the CPC can only be nefarious.

At the Sydney conference, admittedly the only one I ever attended, I saw and met a lot of enthusiastic overseas Chinese of like mind that believe in one China and in peaceful reunification rather than non-peaceful alternatives.

I didn’t see any officials from China proselytizing Australians about the Taiwan issue. I did see a number of former prime ministers of Australia listed as honorary advisers to the council.

Basically Diamond and I hold opposing points of view. His expertise is not about China but he has been a strong cheerleader of the exercise of democracy in Taiwan.

He has said that a democratic form of government is more important than economic development. The recent election in Taiwan, as I have discussed, would suggest that his premise is in doubt.

The textbook description of democracy differs greatly from the real world. Professor Diamond should work with his students on how to remedy the gaping flaws in existing Western democracies, starting with the United States.

Orville Schell, on the other hand, has as good a set of “China hand” credentials as anyone. He is an accomplished author and journalist, but his views on China have shown unusual twists and turns – sometimes positive and at other times negative.

Perhaps his lack of consistency is due in part to being influenced by his friendship with the late Harry Wu– a relationship he has never publicly disavowed.

Schell is not the only one. As a charlatan pretending to be a human-rights activist, Wufooled a lot of people.  (Very few bothered to look deeper to see his feet of clay.)

Wu saw quite astutely that a lot of American politicians are predisposed to believe anything negative being said about China. He made a living telling lurid tales of China to that captive market.

Wu had the misfortune of drowning while cavorting in Honduras. That was how he avoided scheduled court appearances to face charges of graft and sexual misconduct, and we will never know all the sordid and salacious details of his life.

John Pomfret, the last named author of the letter, has lived in China and written about China. He has written a definitive study on the history of the relations between the US and China.

Beautiful country preferable to Middle Kingdom

He called his book The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom, which is an opportunistic translation of the Chinese names for the United States and China.

After reading his book, I came away feeling that he has a bias in which the beautiful country is just fine and the Middle Kingdom not so much.

One example should suffice. Pomfret talked about Danny Stillman, director of technical intelligence at Los Alamos National Laboratorywho “took nine trips to nuclear-weapons installations in western China that no American had been before.”

Through his many trips into China, Stillman was able to compile a list of all of China’s nuclear-weapon tests. When he was ready to publish a book about his findings, “the Chinese pleaded with them” (Stillman had a co-author) not to include the page with the list.

What’s missing in Pomfret’s narrative is the fact that Stillman went into China at the invitation of Chinese scientists. The reader should ask, how else could he make nine separate trips into China’s nuclear-weapons installations or gather a list of weapon tests if not with Chinese cooperation?

My explanation: In accordance with the “Art of War,” China wanted the US to know about China’s state of nuclear-weapon development so that the Pentagon would not make a mistake in calculating the pros and cons of a nuclear confrontation.

Pomfret could also have noted that the publication of Stillman’s book was initially suppressed by the Clinton administration, as the US government was in midst of dealing with the Wen Ho Lee fiasco, in which Lee was accused of stealing missile technology for China.

To admit that at the same time that Lee was being exonerated, China had openly revealed their nuclear development activities to the US would have been awkward to say the least.

Suffice it to say that portraying the Chinese pleading with Stillman presented a very different picture than the Chinese proactively inviting Stillman’s visits to China’s weapon-development centers.

A Chinese-American antidote to paranoia

As a bicultural person, I see the perspective from both sides of the Pacific and I try to present a Chinese-American point of view – a point of view frequently missing in the US mainstream that can help Americans better understand China and the importance of the relationship.

The latest example of how the US can get carried away with paranoia is the alarm raised around the Chinese subway cars being assembled in Springfield, Massachusetts, for Boston.

The fear, first raised in The Washington Post, is the prospect of the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) installing spyware on the coaches. Imagine that, the horrors of Beijing listening in on every conversation in the subway car.

I first reported in Asia Times about the project: “The CRRC bid was at least 20% lower than competing bids from Canada and South Korea. There were no US bidders.

“In other words, the use of Chinese know-how will provide American cities with state of the art rail cars, at affordable prices, made with American labor, and resulting in the infrastructure improvements to make America great again.”

I even pointed out that the deal with CRRC would produce cars with more than 60% local (made in the US) content and qualify under President Donald Trump’s “Buy American” mandate.
In my view, the subway car deal is an excellent example of a win-win arrangement for the US and for China.

The Diamond letter states that he and his colleagues support my rights to free speech under the US constitution. I hope so, because I intend to continue to be a constructive contributor to the discussion on the future of the US-China relations.