Saturday, May 30, 1998

Why US-China Relation Matters to All Chinese Americans

This was a letter co-written with Henry Tang, Chairman of The Committee of 100, to Organization of Chinese Americans explaining that U.S. bilateral relations with China matter to all Chinese Americans. May 1998

When two major world powers, as in the case of the U.S. and China, make moves toward a cordial and constructive relationship, tension across the Pacific eases and the whole world can breath easier. Improved security and stability is undoubtedly the single most important desired outcome from this bilateral relationship. To Americans of Chinese ancestry living in the U.S., however, a positive bilateral relationship is even more special.

Virtually all Americans trace their ethnic roots to somewhere else in the world and is a source of pride and identification of one's being. Therefore it is natural that Chinese in America--all over the world, for that matter-- should be proud of a China that has shed the century-old label as the sick man of Asia, a China with the economic power to contribute to world stability, a China that can offer world competitive satellite launching service and getting ready to put their own astronauts in space--in other words, a China that has joined the world's center stage.

Loyalty of Americans is not suspect just because they take pride in the achievement of their country of origin. This presumption should also apply to Chinese Americans. Yet the recent indiscriminant bashing of all Chinese Americans over isolated cases of irregular campaign contribution of uncertain linkage would suggest that the assumption is not to be taken for granted. We Chinese Americans now face a choice: We can abide by the confines of the psychological detention camp being erected around us, reminiscent of the Joseph McCarthy's witch hunting era, or we can speak up.

OCA is speaking up with voter registration and promoting regular participation in the voting booth as a way to reassert our political rights. We endorse, support and applaud OCA's leadership in this endeavor. When certain interests in the U.S. turn China into a bogus demon to advance unrelated domestic political agenda or as a guise for race baiting, those sacred rights are being threatened. We need to promote a reality-based bilateral relations to overcome the demonizing and protect our civil and political rights.

Ever since the brutal quelling of the Tiananmen protest in June 1989, the western media has been relentlessly critical of China. Members of Congress along with other politicians and pundits of influential dailies have been doggedly one sided in their comments about China. These critics ignore the rapid rate of reform that is taking place in China. Consequently, most of the American general public have very little idea of the economic, social and political advances taking place inside China, since they have few alternative access to contrary information. Thus, the burden falls on the shoulder of Chinese Americans with biculture insight and knowledge to set the record straight.

Telling America about the progress and positive advances taking place in China will promote mutual understanding and thus contribute to building a durable and even-handed bilateral relationship. This is not the same as acting as advocates, apologists or unpaid lobbyists on behalf of the Beijing regime.

The Committee of 100 has been assuming the role of an intermediary explaining China to Washington and Washington to leaders of greater China. When we do so, we do not gloss over the real problems that exist in China. By being objective and carefully guarding our credibility, we have been able to use our access to leaders in Beijing, Hong Kong and Taipei to constructively criticize the defects and deficiencies and suggest remedies in the civil societies of greater China and thus remove obstacles to improving the bilateral relationship with the United States.

On the average Committee members are likely to be older than that of OCA and many are first generation immigrants. Their background enables them to separate the facts from the fiction bedeviling the bilateral relationship. We believe that the Committee's role is completely compatible with the interests of OCA. We encourage and invite OCA's support.