Showing posts with label racial profiling in America. Show all posts
Showing posts with label racial profiling in America. 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.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

My confession seems to have struck a responsive chord

I also had a conversation with Cyrus Janssen on his YouTube channel. I have received many more reader responses than usual on my essay on Asia Times. I have decided to post selected inputs from my readers. Ifay Chang Tue, Aug 23, 9:17 AM (1 day ago) I echo with you as a Republican, seeing the hypocritic bipartisan bickering that is degrading the U.S.. Ifay Bob Dickerson Tue, Aug 23, 9:29 AM (1 day ago) Wonderful, George. Very moving and so honest. Peace and love to you. If you need me, I’ll be there for you. Peter Li Tue, Aug 23, 9:42 AM (1 day ago) Thanks George. You have said exactly what’s in my heart and a sense of frustration and exasperation. America has changed so much since we first came in the 40s and 50s. Alas… Peter William Fuller Tue, Aug 23, 9:51 AM (1 day ago) Hi George, From one 84 year old to another, well done! Like you, I could not be more worried about our country, its relations with China, and the risks to our democracy. With best wishes, Bill Ivy Chang Tue, Aug 23, 9:58 AM (1 day ago) George, I'm an immigrant, like you, and agree with your writing. You make the Chinese in the U.S. proud. Lillian Sing Tue, Aug 23, 10:39 AM (1 day ago) George, I tilt my hat to you over and over again. Once again, your writing touched my heart and soul. 很佩服你! You share the same experience as so many of us, CA, who came to the US with hope and aspiration. Yes, US has been good to us. I became a judge when there were no female AA women judges in No. CA . It was a dream come true. But, alas, I see over and over again, how US has missed opportunities to be the great country and now has taken steps that will endanger all of us. CA is no longer welcome here. We are viewed with suspicious and the entire CA community is accused of posing a "whole of society threat against the US." Like you, I feel betrayed, disappointed and the necessity to speak out. Lillian Nancy M. Lee Tue, Aug 23, 10:47 AM (1 day ago) George: I could not have agreed with you more. It echoes precisely my feeling. When I came to this country in 1960, America was at its best. It has since come down and deteriorated year by year. Instead of using the tax money to build our country, it has spent the money around the globe to start wars. Thank you for writing this excellent article. I am sending your article to all my non-asian friends. Best, Nancy Anthony Ng Aug 23, 2022, 11:14 AM (1 day ago) Dear George: Thank you for sharing. Profound analysis! I resonated so much with what you wrote and got to know you better. Indeed, honesty is such a lonely word in politics. What could we do as part of the solution? I would love to hear more from you. Could we chat at your convenience? Blessings, Anthony C. Ng Robert Kapp Tue, Aug 23, 1:12 PM (1 day ago) I knew we had things in common: I ran "Americans Abroad for McCarthy" in London in 1968, when I was a graduate student just out of nine months of Ph.D. research in Chiang Kai-shek's Taiwan. But not Laurelhurst: the first thing someone at the UW said to me when we moved to Seattle in 1973 and I joined the UW faculty was, "Of course you'll live in Laurelhurst...." Uh-uh. We bought a houseboat for $12k instead. I never did quite meld with the Laurelhurstians on campus. Best wishes. B. Phil Cunningham Tue, Aug 23, 1:26 PM (1 day ago) Hi George, I liked reading your personal story, helps put your pieces in perspective. You have a lot of wisdom, hard-earn lessons and longitude in your views on things. Funny on the Shakespeare thing. Cornell Press asked me to read a thesis and book proposal by a Chinese scholar about Shakespeare in China; it was quite good! I've got a piece coming out in SCMP this week about decline in number of Chinese students, using Cornell as example. Next piece is about the almost complete zeroing out of US students in China. Phil Maeley Tom Aug 23, 2022, 1:57 PM (1 day ago) Your article was nothing short of "outstanding" and distributing it to my network. Thank you George Tue, Aug 23, 2:50 PM (1 day ago) George Your disclosure of personal experience is deeply appreciated by myself And this is a very acceptable article to share with all My friends disregard their political outlook nor their “ distorted “ ( a big majority of them , unfortunately Views or perception of China These are fir those who lived in the west ( US Canada England Australia or even Hong Kong and yes HK and Taiwan) Your personal experience is indisputable including your criticism and disappointment with US politicians ! Money talk it’s not like one would like to think Democracy is Peoples Talk ( we are all damaged by the Western Politician Talk ) leaving many of us feeling so helpless and hopeless 😩 Miranda Hsiung Fei Lee Tue, Aug 23, 2:54 PM (1 day ago) Dear George: Very well said. Your article of "Confessions of a Disgruntled Chinese American" resonances with me very much. I first came to the US in 1961. The America in the early 60's was different from how or what it is today. Many of the things you mentioned were not on the surface back then. The military and defense industry complex brings misery to the people around the world as well as Americans at home. It is hard to reverse the ' one-dollar-one-vote system' we have today back to the ' one-man-one-vote system' it is supposed to be. But it is the only chance that America will survive another two hundreds years without collapsing. There has to be a way to turn the American policy from outward expansionism to paying attention of domestic issues. Washington needs to look after the well being of the 99% instead of what happens in Ukraine or Taiwan Strait. Most Americans do not understand international politics. Hopefully, they know what it means to have food on the table and the roof over their head. H. F. L. Ling-Chi WANG Tue, Aug 23, 3:48 PM (1 day ago) Hi, George: What an inspiring confession! There are so many striking similarities between your experience and mine, from being born in the same year and raised on the same tiny island of beautiful Gulangyu (鼓浪屿), 3 sq. Km., to coming to America for education and opportunity to becoming engaged in American civic life, and finally, to becoming disillusioned and disgruntled in our sunset years. Reading your confession is like reading my own memoir except you write, as usual, with such flair and eloquence, I could not possibly match. It is quite incredible that we should finally, in a fortunate stroke of serendipity, meet in San Francisco a few years ago when we were active in the fight to win freedom and justice for Dr. Wen Ho Lee. Dr. Wen Ho Lee won his freedom on September 13, 2000. Sadly and outrageously, 22 years later, we, Chinese Americans today, have all become Wen Ho Lee because of American ignorance, racial prejudice, and hostility. Thanks for sharing your experience. Keep writing because the U.S. needs your perspective and voice! Ling-chi Aug 23, 2022, 3:58 PM (1 day ago) With great grandiloquence, par excellence. Henry Richard King Tue, Aug 23, 4:40 PM (1 day ago) Dear George: Thank you for sharing your story with me. We are the same age. But I came when I was already 14. I did well in school but not at your level. While my math was fine I still struggled with my English and therefore did not get into Bronx Science. Instead I attended Lincoln Park Honor School. I wanted to go to Cornell but did not have the money. I worked at a Jewish resort and managed to save $ 1,100, a nice sum but it was short of the $ 2,000 needed. If I knew then what I know now, I could have borrowed, got a scholarship or worked at a frat house for my room and board. I went to CCNY which was known as poorman's Harvard. At that time more than 90% of the students were Jewish. I hated it. Ironically, my son Bentley would one day go to and graduate from Cornell. Of course he did not have to work a single day to pay for his tuition. But isn't that what we all work for: To give a better life for our kids? Since there were few of us then, there was not the hysteria of Asian, namely Chinese, students taking over the top colleges. Affirmative actions were then not that evident. These days I don't know what it would take for our kids and grandchildren to get into an Ivy or MIT? China was then Red China and for the most part not on the radar screen. Even as recent as the late 70s and early 80s it was Japan that was the threat. Japan bashing was in full swing. Japan folded and has never recovered. China is a different and more tough nut to crack. As you pointed out, the head of the FBI shamelessly bragged about targeting ethnic Chinese. I worked in the defense industry, something I would not do today. I wonder what would happen if all ethnic Chinese were to boycott the defense industry. It would collapse. With China's rising, we Chinese-Americans will increasingly face tough times ahead. Richard James Hsue Tue, Aug 23, 5:34 PM (1 day ago) Thank you George for the personal experience spoken from the heart. It is an experience that is probably widely shared amongst not only Chinese Americans but also amongst Chinese canadians, Chinese Australians etc. I am really happy to see it being told. I sent it out to my HK highschool classmates, many of whom emigrated to the U.S., Canada and the U.K. James Shirley Kinoshita 6:51 AM (16 hours ago) George Interesting op-ed. I also served on the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission and has experienced a lot of opportunities and rewards as an American. In my case, I’ve had the added blessing of being born in US Territory of Hawaiii, see my home state become a state. I’m surprised you use the term “Heaven..” since I believe you are not a believer in this concept. Shirley

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.”

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.

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.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Stopping systemic prejudice another Obama legacy Trump can reverse

This blog first appeared in Asia Times.

It may take Congressional action to put a halt to the systematic racial bias against Chinese American professionals working in the Department of Commerce, but if Secretary Wilbur Ross answers the Congressional call, he will have reversed a terrible legacy from the Obama administration. And, that should make his boss, President Trump very happy.

Last Wednesday, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus appeared on a Capitol Hill press conferenceto announce that they have sent a letter to the Commerce Inspector General Peggy Gustafson asking her to investigate the wrongful dismissal of Sherry Chen as hydrologist for the National Weather Service.

The same press conference also disclosed that a separate letter was sent to Secretary Ross signed by 132 Asian American community organizations asking him to facilitate the inspector general probe and give Chen full restitution.

America is supposed to provide equal protection and equal justice to all her citizens. Sherry Chen got none of that since she was wrongly arrested and falsely accused of spying for China in 2014.

After she was exonerated and all charges dropped in March 2015, Chen’s family, friends and supporters rightly anticipated that she would be given back her job, which was to model and monitor the Ohio River for threats of flooding and destruction of life and property. 

Instead Laura Furgione, the then deputy director of NWS, notified Chen that she was being dismissed from employment in the weather service. Louis Uccellini as director of NWS and Furgione’s superior had to sign off on the official notice, which he decline to do and recused himself. 

Furgione then went over his head and got Vice Admiral Michael Devany as Deputy Under Secretary for Operations of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Uccellini’s boss to approve the dismissal. Because Furgione had to try twice to formalize the paper work, Chen’s employment was officially terminated a year after all her charges were dropped, in March 2016.

The Asian American community rallied around a stunned Chen who appealed her case with the Merit Systems Protection Board. MSPB was established to adjudicate appeals from Federal government employees. Over the period from 2012 to 2017, MSPB heard nearly 70,000 cases and only in 1.6% of the cases that the board ruled in favor of the employee filing the grievance. Not a terribly promising prospect for justice but appeared to be the only avenue available to her.

A hearing was held by MSPB in March 2017.  Judge Michele Szary Schroeder issued her decision on April 23, 2018.  She ruled overwhelmingly in favor of Ms. Chen. Judge Schroeder took a year to write a 135-page judgment in which she carefully refuted each of the arguments presented by DOC to justify their termination of Chen’s employment.

Jeremy Wu, as trustee of Chen’s Legal Defense Fund, wrote to Senior Executives Association seeking to remove Furgione from the board of directors of SEA. His letter, dated May 15, 2018 said in part, The rest of the MSPB decision further describes Ms. Furgione’s bias and vengeance, lack of integrity and impartiality, disregard of exculpatory evidence, and conducting or staying silent on scandalous activities under her watch in the NWS.”

After the MSPB ruling, the only DOC response was to express an intent to appeal and in fact sought and got an extension to June 18 to file a formal reply. It seemed to be the usual reflex of delay and stall by a government with unlimited resources to wear down a victim of limited means.

The continued intent to deny Chen her due prompted 31 members of the Congressional APA Caucus to sign the letter to the DOC Inspector General and call the press conference. Concurrently, 130 some Asian American organizations wrote to Secretary Ross asking him to do the right thing.

These same Congressional and community leaders had previously called on Loretta Lynch, Obama’s Attorney General, urging her to give Chen justice. Lynch never responded. Thus, the stain of racial prejudice during the Obama administration became a part of his legacy.

Lest anyone think Sherry Chen represented an isolated incident, she was not. Last year, the Chinese American Committee of 100 published a white paperindicating that under Obama years, Asians were more likely to be charged with economic espionage than people of any other race. They are also found innocent at a rate two times higher than individuals from any other racial group. However, people with Asian-sounding names received sentences twice as long as those with Western-sounding names. 

The scandal did not occurred on Trump or Ross’ watch. Xenophobia does not have to be part of their legacy. They should want to know what is it in the DOC that is so protective of racists and bigots. If there is no systemic rot within the department, then what are the perpetrators hiding and acting so insistent on denying Chen her justice?

By exposing bigotry in the federal government, Secretary Ross, at no downside risk and personal cost, can strike a blow for fair and equal employment and ensure the full participation of every citizen in America without prejudice. Indeed the message of treating every citizen with respect and due process would be a breakthrough unprecedented in America’s history of race relations.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

“Surveillance Cameras Made in China are Hanging All Over the US”

The Memphis police use the surveillance cameras to scan the streets for crime. The U.S. Army uses them to monitor a base in Missouri. Consumer models hang in homes and businesses across the country. At one point, the cameras kept watch on the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
All the devices were manufactured by a single company, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology . It is 42%-owned by the Chinese government.
Hikvision (pronounced “hike-vision”) was nurtured by Beijing to help keep watch on its 1.4 billion citizens, part of a vast expansion of its domestic-surveillance apparatus. In the process, the little-known company has become the world’s largest maker of surveillance cameras. It has sold equipment used to track French airports, an Irish port and sites in Brazil and Iran.
Hikvision’s rapid rise, its ties to the Chinese government and a cybersecurity lapse flagged by the Department of Homeland Security have fanned concerns among officials in the U.S. and Italy about the security of Hikvision’s devices.
The above was the lead of an article in WSJ. My response is below.
The Wall Street Journal article has just made the grains of sand practice of espionage obsolete!!! In case you've forgotten, during the height of Wen Ho Lee hysteria, there was a FBI expert (Paul Moore was his name) on China that proclaimed that all Chinese Americans in the US were potential spies for China. He claimed that China conducted their spying differently, relying of grains of sand to collect any tidbits of inconsequential information and send them to Beijing. By grains of sand, he was referring to the Chinese American living in America, each representing a grain of sand and each seeing something of potential value would send the intelligence to Beijing. There was this alleged supercomputer in bowls of Beijing Zhongnanhai (don't forget China was on the way of developing the world's fastest supercomputer) that processes these bits of intelligence sent from the grains of sand, voila out comes the design of the multi-head missile, just like the one in your old backyard. Now with surveillance camera made in China, Beijing sure won't need no grains of sand anymore.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Is EEA giving cover for FBI racial profiling of Chinese Americans?

 This was first posted in Asia Times.
On the Friday before the Memorial Day Weekend, the Committee of 100 (C100) published their findings on the systemic profiling of Chinese Americans as economic espionage spies by the US federal government.

The Chinese American community, have always known that they are victims of institutionalized racism. This study puts a measuring dipstick into this controversial issue.

Andrew Kim, recent Cum Laude graduate of Harvard Law School, performed the actual analysis of public arrest records of cases charged under the Economic Espionage Act (EEA) from 1997 to 2015.

Kim found that under the Obama Administration, i.e., since 2009, the percentage of people charged under EEA that were Chinese Americans tripled to make up 52% of all the cases.  If all non-Chinese but of Asian descent were included, the total would add up to 62% of all the cases.

Since ethnic Asians represent only between 5-6% of the total US population, it would seem that Asian Americans and particularly Chinese Americans are extraordinarily busy spying on America.

However, Chinese or Asians charged under EEA are also twice as likely as those with western surnames to have the charges dropped or reduced to minor offenses so as to justify release on probation.

Conversely, if convicted of espionage, the average sentence in prison is 25 months for Chinese Americans as compared to 11 months for those with western surnames.

In summary, if you are a Chinese American living in the US, you are more likely to be suspected of being a spy, more likely to be falsely accused, and more likely to pay dearly no matter whether you are guilty of any real infractions. Just having the FBI imagined wrongdoing is enough to put you through hell.

Frank Wu, Chairman of C100, recruited Kim to do the study. Kim’s work did not start from scratch but was built on top of the data already collected by C100 member Jeremy Wu. Wu in turn initially took notice of the disparity based on ethnicity from the works of a Palo Alto law firm.

C100, a national organization of prominent Chinese Americans has been following closely cases when Chinese Americans were arrested. When Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee was arrested and put in solitary confinement in 1999, the C100 had a leadership role in coming to his defense.

Nelson Dong, then general counsel of C100, via a series of conference calls, organized a national coalition of Asian American organizations to present a unified voice of protest to the Clinton Administration. Dr. Lee was not given due process and the group protested that the FBI agent gave misleading and false testimony during Lee’s trial.

Even though the presiding judge apologize to Lee for government misconduct, Lee still had to plead guilty to downloading data into his computer in violation of accepted national laboratory procedure. The misdemeanor charge was necessary to justify his 10 months of solitary confinement. There was no other way for the government to save face.

Eventually, the Lee family got some monetary compensation from the media for violating Lee’s privacy thanks to C100 member Brian Sun who acted as the plaintiff’s counsel. Getting compensation from the government for wrongful prosecution is nearly impossible as my review disclosed as recently as two years ago.

There are currently two pending cases involving Chinese American scientists seeking compensation from the government. As reported last year, even after all charges were dropped against her, Sherry Chen still could not get her job back.

Chen had since then retained legal counsel and got a hearing with the Merit System Protection Board of the Federal Government that took place in Cincinnati in March. The purpose of the hearing before the administrative judge of MSPB was to determine as to why Chen should not get her job back.

At the hearing, it became clear that Deborah Lee was the principal cause for denying Chen her old job. Even after the charges against Chen were dropped, Lee wrote a two page letter insisting that Chen was a danger to the US. Tom Adams, one time colleague of Lee and Chen, told Chen’s supporters at the hearing that on a social occasion, he had heard Lee expressed hatred and prejudice against ethnic Chinese.

Lee’s letter apparently became the basis for Laura Furgione to draft the letter to dismiss Chen in her capacity as the deputy director of National Weather Service. Furgione, a self-described ambitious career bureaucrat, had to submit her removal letter twice because the director of NWS refused to have anything to do with this sordid business.

Until her appearance at the hearing in Cincinnati, Furgione has never met Chen, did not know her and had no personal reason to insist on denying Chen her old post. Perhaps she thought writing the proposal to dismiss Chen would be a boost for her career.

Since last December, Furgione has moved from NWS to become chief of Office of Strategic Planning, a small office with a handful of staff at the US Census Bureau. Wu who had retired from the Bureau observed in LinkIn that given the organizational disarray there and in face of a pending national census, Furgione might be given assignments where she has no chance to succeed.

Professor Xiaoxing Xi attended the C100 conference in Washington and I interviewed him about the civil suit he filed against FBI agent Andrew Haugen. He said the decision to sue Haugen was a very difficult one because the action required having to relive the trauma of being taken away in handcuffs at gunpoint in front of his family.

However, he was infuriated not just by the way he was treated and that his right as an American citizen has been violated, but because he has never been given any explanation from the government as to why he was the target.

His complaint against the FBI agent charged, “FBI Special Agent Andrew Haugen, who intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly made false statements and representations and material omissions of facts in his reports, affidavits, and other communications with federal prosecutors, thereby initiating a malicious prosecution of Professor Xi.”

Xi hopes his legal action will give him some answers. He understands and expects that the due process will take a long time and that the system protects government wrongdoing. 

The way the system works in the US, even when an officer shoots an unarmed black man in the back, the officer may still find a justifiable probable cause to wiggle away. So it is with Haugen. Even if Haugen has a proclivity to arrest Chinese on sight on trumped up charges, he can hide behind his badge of authority and never face charges for hate crimes.
The views expressed herein are those of the author and does not represent the views of Asia Times nor The Committee of 100.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Chinese American Career Development in Silicon Valley

Below is the text of my speech given on July 9, 2016 at a career development conference sponsored by Chinese American Semiconductor Professionals Association held in Santa Clara.

Good afternoon everybody. I stopped going to work on a regular basis since 2008  (my ex-colleagues might even say it was earlier than 2008) and I got off the board of a large cap, NYSE listed public company in 2014. Other than writing occasional op-ed pieces for online Asia Times, I am enjoying my retirement.

We live in America, a society where old soldiers are quickly forgotten. So this is an unexpected surprise and pleasure to be invited to speak before you today.

Fortunately for me, we Chinese respect our elders and presume that they have grown wiser from the accumulation of life experiences and thus they are not to be quickly put into the dumpster. Also fortunate for me, I know Simon Ma and he invited me. So, thank you Simon.

I have lived in Silicon Valley practically before there was a Silicon Valley, since 1971, and I am delighted today to share with you some of my lessons learned.

 My talk today is roughly divided in four parts. First as brief as possible I need talk a little about my career to put what I have to say in proper context.

I certainly am not about suggest that what I have to say is the only path to enlightenment but I hope you could better understand my remarks in light of the life I’ve had.

Next, taking advantage of the vantage point of a senior citizen, I am going to tell you some stories of some of the Chinese America pioneers that broke the glass ceiling and pave the way for succeeding generations such as you folks in the audience to succeed.

I am honored and pleased to say that these individuals are contemporaries and friends of mine.

Of course, there is a price to be paid for success, whatever that might mean to each one of you individually. Since the theme of this conference is how to succeed, I can presume that you are all interested what that means.

So I plan to summarize for you what I think are the essential characteristics for success in your professional career.

Lastly, if you don’t already know and feel it already, America is not a level playing field for us Chinese. To have a successful career and not just a so-so career, you need to be sensitive and aware of how the field is tilted against you.

 As I have been writing my autobiography for my grandchildren, I reflect that I have been lucky and enjoyed the best of two worlds.

First, I finished 6th grade in China and thus has a solid foundation in Chinese, which I was able to maintain by avidly reading 三国演义 (Romance of Three Kingdoms) and later on when I was in college, an endless supply of武侠小说 (martial arts novels).

Second, I was fortunate to get a scholarship and attend MIT and got a quality education.

Third, I met May Jen who became my wife without her love and support, I wouldn’t have a story to tell today.

I won’t bore you with the details of my life or professional career, but just to let you know that I started in a major American company, a predecessor of today’s Honeywell.

I was considered a rising star. The company did not have an organized education assistance program in those days but the corporate vice president in charge of R&D took me out to lunch one day and offered me leave with pay so that I can complete my doctorate degree while keeping my position at the company.

My Chinese language background, my technical background and my consulting experience enable me to jump off the normal career path to become an advisor to Corporate America on doing Chinese in China.

Thus I had the privilege of a front row seat as I witnessed the rise of China.

My China experience directly led to an invitation to serve of on the board of the world’s largest integrated resort/casino company in the world.

Throughout my working career I developed the knack to write clearly and succinctly. In putonghua, we would call it 一针见血 style.

In my retirement, I use my skill to become a regular contributor to online Asia Times where I strive to present a point of view representing Chinese in America and not the general mainstream public.

As I said at the beginning of my talk, this—hopefully you would consider it as brief—self-introduction is to give context to the rest of my presentation.

 When my family arrived as refugees from China in 1949, ethnic Chinese residing in America make up around one tenth of one percent of this country’s population.

By the time my wife and I immigrated to Silicon Valley from New Jersey, the Chinese population in America has just about tripled, but still a relatively insignificant number.

There was no such place known as Silicon Valley, just fruit orchards in Santa Clara. To buy Chinese groceries and have a dim sum lunch, we would need to drive into Chinatown in San Francisco.

Today we are around 4 million around the country. I can get groceries at Ranch 99 and dim sum lunch in downtown Mountain View, both about 1.5 miles away from home.

 Another way of looking at the Chinese American influence in Silicon Valley is to trace the formation of professional Chinese American organizations here.

The San Francisco chapter of the Chinese Institute of Engineers has been around for almost 100 years. My friend, the late Lester Lee, was a member, but I was not too familiar with this organization and their activities until today.

AAMA was established in 1980 by a bunch of technical types that gathered in the cafeteria of Lester Lee’s then company. The feeling that Asian Americans in the valley needed a mutual support network was the motivation to start AAMA.

I joined around 1983 and chaired a series of annual conferences on cross border strategic alliances starting in 1990 and became the chairman of the organization around 1996.

AAMA started out as Asian American Manufacturers’ Association. Somewhere along the way, the name was switched to Asian American Multi-technology Association because we don’t manufacture anything anymore but there was value in keeping the AAMA brand.

Ten years after AAMA, Monte Jade Science and Technology Association was established.  It was the idea of Zhuang Yi-der who was then head of Taiwan’s Science Division based in Silicon Valley. To this day, Monte Jade has the support of the Science Division.

The formation was a reflection of increasing presence of high tech companies from Taiwan in Silicon Valley and increasing presence of ex-pats here from Taiwan.  At the beginning and for a long time, the lingua franca at the dinner meetings was Putonghua. At AAMA meetings English was always the spoken language.

Shortly after Monte Jade, Chinese American Semiconductor Professional Association was established. Again this was a reflection of the dominating presence of Chinese engineers in the semiconductor industry both here in Silicon Valley and in Taiwan.

In fact some years later, Professor Annalee Saxenian of Berkley who studied the impact of immigrants on Silicon Valley made the observation that in Silicon Valley, IC stood for Indians and Chinese. Without these two groups of immigrants, the valley would implode.

Ten years after formation of Monte Jade came the formation of Hua Yuan Science and Technology Association. This time the founders came from PRC and they immediately became visible by hosting delegations from China to Silicon Valley. )

The most famous deal still talked about was struck between Jack Ma of Alibaba and Jerry Yang of Yahoo at a golf outing sponsored by HYSTA. At the time, Yahoo was the big brother and Alibaba the young upstart.

Last year I spoke at the first annual conference of The Society of Chinese Physician Entrepreneurs. The founder of SCAPE is a practicing physician affiliated with Stanford and the organization was founded in 2014.

I mentioned SCAPE just as the latest organization to be established in Silicon Valley that I am aware of and is an indicator of how much we Chinese like forming affiliations and associations, sort of professional 同乡会.

 Now I would like to tell you about some of the Chinese American pioneers that broke through the glass ceiling in Silicon Valley.

The earliest was David S. Lee (李信麟). In the late 60’s he started a printer company called Diablo Systems that was acquired by Xerox. As soon as his company was acquired, Xerox replaced him with a white guy because who have ever heard of a Chinese knowing how to manage.

So David left and started another printer company called Qume Systems. This was before ink jet or laser printers and David invented a daisy wheel printer.

Qume was acquired by ITT Corporation and this time, David was asked to stay and run the computer peripherals division. When IBM rolled out the PC, ITT asked David to lead the effort to compete with IBM.

To gain a competitive advantage, David took the PC designed by ITT to Taiwan and asked Acer and Mitac to make the PC as OEM supplier. That’s how those companies got into the PC business, and David came to be known as the father of Taiwan’s PC industry.

Since then David has gone on to start and run other companies, served on the board of many companies and on advisory boards of venture capital companies.

He also took time to serve as chairman of CIE, AAMA and Monte Jade. Very early on, after his reputation as a business leader was firmly established, he recognized the importance of being part of the American political process.

He along with Lester Lee and Stanley Wang, founder of Pantronix--one of your gold sponsors, would fund raise for political candidates. They would actively encourage and support Asian candidates regardless of party affiliation. Many others in Silicon Valley have since followed their example.

Because of his prominence and activism, he was appointed to serve on the board of regent of the UC university system for 12 years and he served on many presidential panels and commissions, appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents.

After his PhD from MIT, David K. Lam landed in H-P in Silicon Valley. One day he noticed that all of the sudden, a white guy that used to report to him was made the manager over him.

David Lam resigned and started Lam Research in 1980 and he became the first Chinese American to take his company public in 1984. Those of you in CASPA would know that Lam Research is one of the major semiconductor manufacturing equipment companies in the world.

Similar to David Lee, this David has gone on to start other ventures, advise still more others and sit on board of some.

He also has sat in presidential and state level commissions. In the early 90’s, his leadership established AAMA as the preeminent Asian American professional organization in Silicon Valley.

One of his smartest moves, David convinced Pauline Lo Alker to assume the leadership of AAMA after him, which she did for the next four years from 1991-94.

Pauline was charismatic and a high-energy person. You would find it hard to say no to her. She got people energized and engaged in AAMA and she began an active mentoring program for the young professionals. Under her leadership, AAMA became known as the meeting place for valuable networking and relationship building.

Pauline began her career facing two handicaps. She was Asian and female. Even though she was trained in computer programming, her first job was as a typist in the computer department of GE.

Once given the opportunity to show her ability, she moved up quickly and landed a job in Silicon Valley. From technical positions she moved into sales and marketing and became the vice president for a workstation company called Convergent Technologies, a rising hot company in its days.

She then started a workstation company called Counterpoint, which was acquired by Acer, the Taiwan PC company. By the time she was leading AAMA, venture investors had recruited her to turn around the fortunes of Network Peripherals. She did that and took the company public.

At various times, Pauline has received national recognition as one of the most influential woman executive and role model for aspiring women in the high tech industry.

The above three individuals achieve their success as hugely capable entrepreneurs. Because of their accomplishments, Asian Americans are no longer perceived as just good engineers.

Because of their prominent success stories, the venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road no longer ignore Asians with business plans. These firms even began to hire partners with Asian faces.

I cannot begin to tell you how different Silicon Valley was before and after these pioneers made their mark. I honestly believe their record pave the way for all the others to follow.

John Chen was different. More than a decade younger, he was not an entrepreneur per se. Instead he showed that he knows how to manage and run companies and can turn sick companies into healthy ones.

When he was asked to take over Sybase in 1997, he already had a proven track record in senior management positions. Sybase was literally on a financial death spiral when he took over.

He changed the company business focus, returned the company to profitability and sold the company to SAP for almost $6 billion thirteen years later. He is now trying to do the same with Blackberry.

John sits on two major corporate boards, Disney and Wells Fargo as well a bunch of high tech start-ups and as trustee of a number of national NGOs.

He also led the fund raising drive to build the library in honor of Chancellor Tien Chang-lin at UC Berkeley.

Bob Lee basically climbed the corporate ladder within one company becoming the Executive Vice President of Pacific Bell. He retired after a 26-year career with the telecom company.

In his day, if you go by size of the company, he was the highest ranking corporate executive of Chinese ancestry in the San Francisco Bay Area.

He was chairman of the board of Blue Shield of California, served on the board of numerous smaller companies and non-profit groups. In particular he was active on the board of Asian Pacific Fund and Youth Tennis.

Both Bob and John Chen had served as past chairman of The Committee of 100, a national organization of prominent Chinese Americans.

Like Bob, Albert Yu is also a lifer who spent virtually his entire career in one company. In this case it was Intel.

The difference is that during his stint there, Intel grew from virtually a start-up to the leading semiconductor company in the word.

Albert led Intel’s effort in microprocessor development, the dominance of Intel’s microprocessor in the PC industry was the reason for Intel’s success. He clearly played a major role in Intel's rise.

After 30 years, Albert retired from Intel as their senior vice president. He wrote two books on management Intel style along with many technical papers.

After retirement, he continued to advise companies and sat on the boards of some of the companies in the valley.

His passion was mentoring Asian Americans. He organized mentoring sessions inside Intel and after his retirement he was active participant of mentoring programs organized by Monte Jade and others.

I save Ken Fong for last on this list because he started a company in biotech when electronics and semiconductors dominated the valley.

Secondly, like John Chen, Ken is not retired but actively working. He sold his company to Becton Dickinson for undisclosed hundreds of millions and he has been busy investing and coaching young biotech startups, both here in the US and in China.

Ken has been very generous with his wealth--not only writing checks for charitable causes, but he actively supports Asian American candidates running for political office.

Because of Ken being politically active, he was appointed to the board of trustees of the California State Universities. He was the second Chinese American to serve in this capacity. The first was Stanley Wang of Pantronics.

Ken and I are part of a team organizing a public forum co-sponsored by the Commonwealth Club where we present topics and speakers different from the usual American mainstream.

The topics involve sensitive areas on US China relations that we believe important for the American public to know more about. We have invited speakers from China and U.K. in this endeavor and Ken has generously underwritten the expenses in bringing the speakers over.

I have selected for discussion today the glass ceiling breakers that I knew personally and are friends of mine. I don’t claim this list to be all inclusive. I am sure there are others worthy of mention.

My point is that by breaking the glass ceiling, they made it easier for the many that have followed their footsteps.

 It should be obvious from the success stories I just told you that there is no single route to getting there. What they do have in common, however, is that they all gave back to their community in one way or the other.

Now, I would like to share with you what I think are essential attributes necessary to succeed. If you think about it, these are really quite self evident, so I am going to go over them quickly and we can always discuss any of them in depth during the panel discussion.

But first, what do we mean by success? It’s not the same for everybody. Some want to be famous. Others want to be rich or powerful or both. Still others want to be comfortable in his/her own skin.

Each of you has to decide for yourself.

Know yourself. What I mean is that each one of you needs to take a realistic look at yourself and have the ability to objectively identify your strengths and your weaknesses.

Know others to me means that you have solid interpersonal skills, you know how to establish rapport and empathy with others. You also know how to size up others and decide if their skills complement yours.

Both attributes are, in my view, important if you decide to start a new venture and need to build a team. You can’t find a team with complementary skills if you don’t know what skills you have and don’t know how to identify needed skills in others.

In America, everyone is selling him or herself all the time. You are constantly being evaluated on who you say you are. If you choose to be humble typical of a reticent Chinese; that might be OK in China but here you are putting yourself on discount.

Of course, you will need excellent presentation skills, verbally and also in writing.

Whether you are joining a young startup or a giant corporation, you need to know how to be a team player. Sometimes you are a member of the team and other times you might be leading the team. Either way, you need to help the team move together. This means no back stabbing, no forming factions, no acts of a lone ranger.

I might add that one of the best places to practice team building is to volunteer, such as one of these sponsoring organizations. Why? Because when everybody is a volunteer, there is no command structure, as you would have in a company. To get anything done and move together as a team, you have to have good persuasive skills.

To be a good leader, you must be willing to lead the charge up the hill and not sit in the back and order everybody else to face the enemy fire.

A good leader also knows how to be decisive and know when a decision has to be made and move on. Sometimes the timing is such that you are required to make decisions sooner than you’d like, but you have to have the will and confidence to make the tough calls.

One attribute that will help you being a decisive leader is the ability to think of contingencies. In other words, for every critical decision, you will have thought of alternative scenarios and what-ifs. In this way, if you make a wrong call, you will be in a position to know how to rectify the situation.

Last but not least, I believe it’s important to give back for several reasons. For one, you will feel better about yourself and that will show when you interact with others. For another, others have helped you on your climb to the top and you have a moral obligation to do the same.

 This is my last slide and I have two thoughts to leave with you.

Contrary to common wisdom, America is not a level playing field. Yes, America is the land of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard, but it does not mean that you will be treated the same way as the person next to you.

If you are Asian, if you don’t speak accent free English and if you not the assertive type, you can expect to put out 110% or even 120% of effort in order to get the same recognition and respect as the white person.

This is just the way it is. If you should be fortunate and work in a place where your race, accent and manner is not held against you, so much the better, but at least you should be prepared and ready to accept the bias as an added challenge.

Silicon Valley is more likely to be equitable than elsewhere in the United States. If you ever relocate to other parts of the country, you should be prepared to over come hidden and unconscious bias.

An even more insidious form of racial bias that you must be aware of is the U.S federal government considers each and every one of you a potential spy for China just and only because you are Chinese.

I am part of the task force in the Committee of 100 that goes around the country giving half-day workshops on how to avoid being a victim of racial profiling. We don’t have time to go into this today.

For the purpose of today’s discussion, let me simply give you some practical advice.

If you work in high tech or in government labs or even in academia, you should assume that someone is reading your email and listening in on your telephone conversation, and I don’t mean hackers from PRC. The initials I am thinking of are FBI, CIA or NSA or ATF or DEA.

I just heard on the public radio that since 9-11, we now have over 40 government agencies that are running undercover investigations. Not all of them are concentrating on Chinese espionage—thank goodness--but a sobering thought nonetheless.

You don’t want do anything that can be misinterpreted as something unsavory.

Just keep in mind that our law enforcement agencies are quick to jump to conclusion and in cases where national security is involved, you are presumed guilty and it’s up to you to prove that you are innocent.

If the FBI breaks down your door and want to question you, just remember that you have the right to remain silent and to legal counsel. Don’t make the naïve mistake of thinking that if you cooperate, you can extricate yourself and convince them that they have made a mistake.

When they come to see you, they are already convinced that you are guilty of something. Your agreeing to talk to them will simply give them additional opportunity to find flaws in what you said and accuse you of perjury and other charges. The only protection for you is for you to have your lawyer with you.

With that cheerful note, I am finished with my presentation and look forward to a vigorous panel discussion.