Asian Americans are speaking out against the harmful portrayals in the anti-China ads of both President Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.
Asian American Pacific Islanders for Civil Empowerment published an open letter to Biden on May 12, requesting the campaign recall and publicly acknowledge the xenophobic and anti-Asian messaging in his “Unprepared” video ad, In These Times reports.
The ad criticized Trump’s response to the virus in the early stages of the pandemic’s spread, stating “Trump rolled over for the Chinese,” juxtaposed with footage of the president and people in personal protective gear, darkened with filter.
“By pushing a message that attributes Trump’s failures to his relationship with China, the Biden campaign reinforces Trump’s own core narrative. This may well backfire,” the statement reads. “Ultimately, “Unprepared” plays to rather than challenges the right-wing nationalist movement and its worldview.”
The letter points out why the ad may be harmful to the Asian American community: it gives support for racism, alienates Asian voters and threatens potential international cooperation.
It has since garnered more than 500 signatures from national organizations, elected officials, community leaders, educators and more.
Analysis of four campaign videos by the Washington Post shows that, in fact, both campaigns have adopted strategies to center their campaign ad narratives around blaming China.
Trump’s ads attack Biden for his son, Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China. Biden’s ads disparage Trump’s recent tweets praising China and his response to the pandemic, with the U.S. recording the highest COVID-19 mortality numbers.
“Both sides pin a lot of blame on China for failing to act quickly to stem the virus — or failing to communicate with the rest of the world more clearly,” The Post wrote. “But then they argue that their opponent cannot be trusted to deal with China.”
Meanwhile, hate crimes against Asian Americans continue to rise. Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, states it has received over 1,700 incidence reports on “verbal harassment, shunning and physical assaults” against Asian Americans in the previous six weeks alone, according to its May 13 release.
And elected officials may add to this harmful rhetoric to fuel their own political agendas, according to The Intercept.
“There’s a clear link between the rhetoric that’s being used and the increased harm to our community,” John Yang, president of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, told The Intercept. “We are equally concerned about both parties.”
The “abuse” of talking points, in turn, may leave many Asian Americans frustrated about the U.S. government’s COVID-19 response and its future, come November.
AAPI FORCE’s statement underlines these concerns. Its eight co-authors wrote that it supports Biden’s campaign over Trump’s but that the anti-Asian messaging detracts from the country’s “greatest priority” of battling the pandemic.
“We refuse to allow the Biden campaign to sacrifice our dignity in the name of political expediency,” the letter read.
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RE: As Trump and Biden go head to head in anti-China ads, Asian Americans condemn portrayals: I am so glad several with clout are dealing with Biden’s ads. They really worry me – all this connecting pandemic failures to China in one way or another. I have written Biden’s campaign, posted on FB about it, sent a letter to AsAm anti-racist orgs who they said they were dealing with it – but obviously didn’t succeed with yet another Biden China blame game. So irresponsible and ignorant of Biden’s people! And Biden.