The members of the Committee of 100 — all United States citizens — are compelled to stand up and speak out against the racial profiling that has become increasingly common in the United States where Chinese Americans are being targeted as potential traitors, spies, and agents of foreign influence. Even as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our non-profit organization, committed to our dual missions of a constructive U.S.-China engagement and the full equality and inclusion of Chinese Americans, our community has come under attack again. In the last few years, a few high American government officials, respected media outlets, and opinion leaders have stated or suggested that all Chinese persons in America should be suspected of wrongdoing. Overzealous criminal prosecutions in recent years of innocent individuals such as Sherry Chen and Xiaoxing Xi, like Wen Ho Lee before them, have embarrassingly fallen apart, while ruining lives for no reason. Such targeting of individuals based on their ethnic heritage or national origin violates our shared American ideals. It simply has to stop.
More than a year ago, the Director of the FBI testified before Congress to the effect that all Chinese students and researchers represented a “whole of society” threat to the American way of life. Although he had a chance to clarify, he chose to reiterate that he meant what he had said: in his eyes, every person of Chinese descent was to be distrusted. Likewise, some leading China watchers have expressed similar sentiments. They have warned that Chinese American organizations may be used by China’s government for illicit activities. The more sophisticated have disavowed any intent to stereotype. For Chinese Americans, however, the impact has already been chilling and negative: in scientific, business, political, academic and government circles, Chinese Americans are reporting being subject to greater scrutiny and discriminatory treatment in their work and daily lives. Racial profiling is wrong and un-American in our nation of democracy. It is imperative that those who are committed to the civil rights of all Americans disavow this kind of broad-brush racial stereotyping and fear-mongering.
Since normalization of relations between the United States and China four decades ago, we have witnessed an economic transformation in China never before documented in the annals of human history that has understandably led to some anxiety for Americans. There are legitimate concerns that the United States, and we, as Americans, can have and express about China’s policies and practices. There also are instances of inappropriate, even illegal, conduct by persons of Chinese heritage. The American ideal, however, is the presumption of innocence, due process, and the right of all individuals to express themselves without fear of guilt by association, especially on a racial basis.
The Committee of 100 was established in the belief that Chinese Americans could play a unique role in bridge building. As Americans who appreciate China through our heritage, we can and will continue to facilitate the constructive engagement which has defined U.S.-China relations since “ping pong diplomacy.” We will also continue to fight for Chinese American equality through civic engagement and speaking out against discrimination and injustice. By standing up and speaking out for what is right and just, Chinese Americans can help lead the way in answering the call that is always before us as Americans: to embody more perfectly the ideals and principles of this great nation we call home.
SOURCE Committee of 100
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