The 2016 election awoke the long-slumbering conservative Chinese American voter block, which offered Donald Trump some of his strongest support.
“Chinese Americans for Trump” was a PAC that paid for Trump billboards in more than a dozen states and flew aerial banners over 32 cities. The group rallied supporters on WeChat and other Chinese language social media forums. The founder of the PAC, David Tian Wang, is a 33-year-old businessman originally from Beijing.
Currently there are around 4 million Chinese Americans. According to the Economist, most of these individuals combine a mild preference for the Democratic party but maintain a general wariness of party politics, which contributes to their lack of turnout during elections. Wang claimed that early immigrants from southern China, Hong Kong and Taiwan lacked education, clustered in inner cities and “worked in bad jobs,” which attracted them to Democratic platforms offering welfare. On the other hand, recent immigrants from mainland China attend good universities, work in white collar jobs and “want to mingle with White people,” he said to the Economist.
Asian votes were indispensable in electing Phillip Chen, a young Republican of Taiwanese descent, to the California State Assembly in November. Asian Americans, who make up about a third of his district’s registered voters, had shunned politics for years. Donald Trump’s platform to clamp down on illegal immigration and lower taxes, among other things, attracted many conservative Asian American constituents. Those same conservatives in the Chinese American community also mobilized against SCA5 in 2014 in a big political movement. SCA5 was a proposed amendment to California’s constitution that would have opened the door to race-based affirmative action. They said that race-conscious school admissions hurt high-achieving Asian youngsters and favor Black and Hispanic candidates.
Nevertheless, they also want peace between Taiwan and China, Chen said, and so will be watching the new president with a wary eye.
Some in this group are feeling initial fears of buyer’s remorse, perhaps sentiments of regret, as their leader threatens a trade war with China and hints at upgrading ties with Taiwan, an island that the Chinese government calls no more than a breakaway province.
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