By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Editor
Anti-Asian hate in the U.S. won’t likely be on the agenda at a gathering of world leaders of 21 nations this coming week, but what happens during APEC in San Francisco could directly impact Asian Americans.
The meeting scheduled Wednesday between President Biden and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping could signal a thawing of the chilly relationship between the two countries. That would be a positive for Asian Americans who are often more associated with Asia in the minds of their fellow citizens than with America.
“I think it’s very, very important, very significant. Because we know from, from the COVID era that, you know, anti-China rhetoric from our president and from senior leaders has directly led to a dramatic spike in anti-Asian hate. And we know that statistics, anti-Asian hate crimes increased 339%, nationwide from 2020 to 2021 directly because of that rhetoric.,” said Norm Chen, President of The Asian American Foundation to AsAmNews.
Asian nations taking part this week include China; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Papua New Guinea; The Philippines; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; Hong Kong and Vietnam
The meeting between Biden and Xi has worldwide implications.
“It’s of significance to the whole world,” said Charles Morrison of the East West Center during a Zoom interview with AsAmNews. “We do need to be talking to each other and understanding our respective interests, how we see things.”
Morrison thinks neither side will be making many concessions this week, especially with a presidential election less than one year away. He thinks China needs the meeting more than the U.S. does, saying China’s economy is struggling right now and the country’s international relations have weakened.
Morrison does predict that Biden and Xi will likely make some sort of announcement or what he calls a “deliverable” following their meeting. Secretary of Treasury Janice Yellen met with China’s Vice Premier He Lifeng earlier this week. In addition, officials from the State Department met with lower-level Chinese officials as well.
All that was likely to lay the groundwork for the meeting between Biden and Xi and a possible announcement. However, Morrison doesn’t expect anything major.
“So it’s really building a dialogue and a robust dialogue, and hope that it leads to something later on down the line,” he said.
Unless you’re a close political observer, chances are you may not know APEC stands for Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation. It’s the kind of news story that some may ignore. How closely are Asian Americans following APEC?
“I think it’s somewhere in the middle to be honest,” said Chen. “Because AAPI communities are really closely tied to Asia, right? Culturally, economically, We are all immigrants, a lot of us have spent a lot of time in Asia. So the fact that it’s here in the Bay Area is historic. And it does touch upon us because one thing our survey also points out that people really in America, they conflate Asian American history with Asian history.”
The meeting could have ramifications for Asian Americans beyond anti-Asian hate. Immigration, family reunification and the backlog of visa applications could also come up.
“It’s usually comes across as pressure from other countries. So if a country saying, just pick Vietnam, for example, if in a bilateral meeting with the Secretary of State, Vietnam says, you know, this visa problem is really hurting us, then that’s something that will maybe get some attention, or if they hear it from four or five different countries, and it might get attention,” said Morrison.
Several anti-APEC protests will be held in San Francisco this week as well. One is scheduled for Sunday, November 12 and another on Wednesday, November 15. Security is extremely tight around the city with the area surrounding APEC events cordoned off and declared APEC security zones.
APEC runs Saturday, November 11 through Friday, November 17. Watch for coverage of how APEC impacts the Asian American community on AsAmNews.
AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Please make a tax-deductible donation to support diverse news coverage about AAPIs and to fund the addition of a new reporter. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.