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[Congressional Record: June 21, 2001 (Senate)]
[Page S6595-S6597]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I would like to take this opportunity 
to indicate my deep concern about what I perceive to be increasing bias 
in the United States toward Asian Americans and Chinese Americans in 
  In recent years, we have seen those on the far right and the far left 
of the political spectrum raise allegations without proof, distort 
facts, and make it impossible to refute insinuations. Thus, a web of 
suspicion is woven about the loyalties of Asian Americans to the United 
  This has created an atmosphere of anti-Asian American and anti-
Chinese American sentiment: a House Select Committee report on National 
Security (although widely debunked as without foundation); the botched 
Wen Ho Lee investigation; the recent incident with Representative David 
Wu; the attacks against U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao; hate 
crimes against Asian Americans; and the attacks against former 
California State Treasurer Matt Fong.
  These examples--and others--have contributed to a troubling and 
negative stereotyping of Asian-Americans.
  Evidence of this comes from a recent Yankelovich survey which 
asserts: 68 percent of Americans now have a somewhat negative or very 
negative attitude toward Chinese Americans; one in three now believe 
that Chinese Americans are more loyal to China than to the United 
States; nearly half of all Americans--or 46 percent--now believe that 
Chinese-Americans passing secrets to China is a problem; and 34 percent 
believe that Chinese Americans now ``have too much influence'' in the 
U.S. high technology sector.
  Tragically, the unfounded suspicions about the loyalties of Asian 
Americans has itself created a sense of unease among the Asian American 
  According to Asian American focus groups conducted for the Committee 
of 100 during January 2001, Asian Americans believe that too many 
Americans see them as foreigners or as ``permanent aliens.''
  Increasingly, Chinese-Americans with contacts, family, friendships or 
business connections in China are labeled disloyal to the United States 
simply because of their ethnic background and heritage.
  The sentiment seems to be that you can't be both Chinese-American and 
a loyal American as well.
  Now that is not what America is all about.
  Sadly, our Nation has a long history of discrimination against 
Americans of Asian and Pacific Island ancestry. Without a doubt, Asian 
Americans have suffered from unfounded and demagogic accusations of 
  Americans of Asian and Pacific Island descent have been subjected to 
discriminatory laws that have prevented their right to become, and be 
seen as, Americans:
  The Chinese Exclusionary Act of 1882 barred the immigration of 
Chinese laborers.
  In 1907, the ``Gentleman's Agreement'' between the United States and 
Japan limited Japanese immigration to the United States.
  A 1913 California law erected barriers to prevent Asian Americans 
from becoming land-owners.
  The Immigration Act of 1917 prohibited immigration from nearly the 
entire Asia-Pacific region.
  The National Origins Act of 1924 banned immigration of persons 
ineligible for citizenship.
  Asian Americans were not able to become citizens of the United States 
for over 160 years and the Supreme Court consistently upheld laws 
prohibiting citizenship for Asians and Pacific Islanders with the last 
of these laws not repealed until 1952.
  The Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934 limited the number of Filipino 
immigrants to 50 per year.
  During World War II, we witnessed one the worst acts of 
discrimination against any group of Americans, the internment of 
120,000 patriotic and loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry.
  Despite the fact that their family members were being denied their 
basic rights as Americans, many young Japanese Americans volunteered to 
fight for their country and they did so with bravery, honor, and valor.
  The record of the U.S. Army's 100th Battalion and 442nd Infantry 
Combat Group speaks for itself and is without equal: 18,000 individual 
decorations awarded including 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 
Silver Stars, and 9,480 Purple Hearts.
  The record of the 442nd Combat Group made up of Japanese American 
soldiers, including our esteemed colleague Senator Daniel Inouye is 
unusual: They were the most decorated unit of its size in the Army 
during World War II, yet only one member until last year received the 
Medal of Honor when Senator Inouye finally received his long overdue 
  Throughout U.S. history Asian Americans have been subjected to 
discriminatory actions, including the prohibition of individuals from 
owning property, voting, testifying in court or attending school with 
other people in the United States.
  It is long past time to turn the page on this chapter of our Nation's 
  And I am appalled that in recent years some have resorted to negative 
stereotypes to question the integrity of an entire community.
  Tragically, this rising tide in discrimination has contributed to a 
growing number of crimes hate crimes against Asian Americans.
  According to the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, 
there were 486 reported incidents of violence against Asian Americans 
in the latest figures available for 1999, an increase from the 429 
incidents in 1998.
  This upward trend is even more troubling because it is contrary to 
the finding reported by the Department of Justice's 1999 crime 
victimization report that violent crime rates had fallen by 10 percent 
during this same period.
  Who can forget the harrowing photos in August of 1999 of pre-school 
children holding hands while fleeing the North Valley Jewish Community 
center when a white supremacist walked into their school and opened 

[[Page S6596]]

  Later that day, the perpetrator shot and killed Joseph Ileto, a 
Filipino-American postal worker. Ileto was a kind hearted and unselfish 
man who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and slain 
because of his skin color.
  In May 1999, a Japanese American store owner was shot in Chicago, 
Illinois by a gunmen seeking out ethnic targets.
  In July 1999, Benjamin Smith, a 21-year-old college student, went on 
a three day shooting rampage in Illinois and Indiana, killing one 
Korean American, one African American, and injuring nine others--Jews, 
Asian Americans, and African Americans.
  These examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hate 
crimes against Asian Americans.
  And make no mistake about it, these attacks are in part fueled by the 
anti-Asian sentiment that lingers in our society today.
  Even with the strides we have made in combating hate crimes thus far, 
Asian American groups report that these crimes are still frequently 
under-reported and therefore the ``real'' numbers of these incidents is 
  According to the Asian Law Caucus's Interim Executive Director Frank 

       The invisibility of Asian Pacific Americans has real 
     detrimental effects. If law enforcement does not perceive 
     that we are susceptible to hate crimes, then they are more 
     likely to overlook the red flags at a crime scene. We have 
     seen this firsthand. The result is that perpetrators are not 
     prosecuted, victims do not receive appropriate assistance and 
     the under reporting continues.

  The rising tide of anti-Asian American attitudes that can lead to 
these sorts of tragic incidents are all too often aided and abetted by 
those in government and the media who ought to know and act better.
  Many Chinese-Americans, for example, feel that the Report of the 
House Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/
Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China promoted an 
atmosphere of suspicion about the loyalty of Chinese Americans to their 
  The House Committee report asserted that:

       Threats to national security can come from PRC scientists, 
     students, business people, or bureaucrats, in addition to 
     professional civilian and military intelligence operations.
       The PRC also tries to identify ethnic Chinese in the United 
     States who have access to sensitive information, and 
     sometimes is able to enlist their cooperation in illegal 
     technology or information transfers.
       It is estimated that at any given time there are over 
     100,000 PRC nationals who are either attending U.S. 
     universities or have remained in the United States after 
     graduating from a U.S. university. These PRC nationals 
     provide a ready target for PRC intelligence officers and 
     PRC Government controlled organizations, both while they 
     are in the United States and when they return to the PRC.
       In light of the number of interactions taking place between 
     PRC and U.S. citizens and organizations over the last decade 
     as trade and other forms of cooperation have bloomed, the 
     opportunities for the PRC to attempt to acquire information 
     and technology, including sensitive national security 
     secrets, are immense.

  Although it is true that the Chinese Intelligence sources utilize 
these techniques, many Chinese-Americans feel that these sorts of 
broad-brush allegations create an atmosphere where all Asian Americans 
fall under a cloud of suspicion.
  The report seems to suggest, for example, that because the PRC may 
try to recruit some ethnically Chinese scientists in the U.S., all 
ethnic Chinese are under suspicion.
  A review of the Report by Stanford University's Center for 
International Security and Cooperation concluded that the Report was 
inflammatory, inaccurate, and damaging to U.S.-China Relations.
  Its principal editor, Dr. Michael May, argued that the Report alleged 
that ``essentially all Chinese visitors to the United States are 
potential spies. This has cast a cloud of suspicion over both foreign 
and Asian-born U.S. staff members of U.S. companies.''
  Many Chinese and Asian American groups have written to me to express 
their concerns about the impact the insinuations and unfounded 
allegations of the Report have had on Chinese and Asian Americans. In a 
May 21st letter to the Editor and Chief of the Los Angeles Times, John 
Fugh, a retired Chinese-American Major General with 33 years of service 
in the U.S. Army and its former Judge Advocate General, wrote:

       The impact of this inflammatory report has created an 
     environment in which many Chinese and Asian Americans have 
     had their loyalty questioned based on their ethnicity, 
     especially in the defense sector.

  The Asian Law Alliance of San Jose noted that the allegations of the 
Report ``led to a broad-based hysteria that detrimentally impacted 
Asian American scientists working to support U.S. research and 
  The Organization of Chinese Americans argued that the ``report and 
the false impression it gave the American public had serious 
repercussions on the careers of Chinese Americans at some government 
agencies and in some instances, private industry.''
  Now I would like to speak about some people who may well have been 
targeted because they are Asian Americans.
  Dr. Wen Ho Lee, an American citizen and nuclear scientist, formerly 
employed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, was arrested in 1999 on 
59 charges ranging from violating the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to 
mishandling classified data and held in solitary confinement for nine 
months before all charges were dropped except for one--downloading 
classified data onto his personal computer. I have been told that 
others at the lab also downloaded information but were not charged.
  Media reports and government information portrayed him as a Chinese 
  After reviewing the facts of the case, I am convinced that whatever 
else may have been involved the case also had serious undertones of 
racial stereotyping that need to be examined closely.
  This is a man who had been held under the most extraordinary security 
conditions. Dr. Lee, a sixty-year old scientist at the time, was 
prohibited from outside contact, except for his immediate family, and 
shackled at the wrists, waist and ankles on the occasions in which he 
was allowed to leave his cell.
  In an impassioned letter about the Wen Ho Lee case, one of my 
constituents expressed:

       As a Chinese American . . . I ask no more than what is due 
     to every citizen of this country, namely, to be treated with 
     respect and dignity. I resent those who would question the 
     loyalty of Chinese Americans any time a particular Chinese 
     American is suspected of an egregious act. In their haste to 
     decry the alleged espionage by an individual, not only are 
     these public officials and said media guilty of a rush to 
     judgment but of tarring with a broad brush other American 
     citizens who are guilty of nothing else other than having the 
     same ethnicity of the suspect.

  Instances like the Wen Ho Lee case engender a sense of disunity and 
division within the community, which undermines the basic tenets on 
which this nation was founded.
  In another instance of how poisoned this atmosphere has become, 
Oregon U.S. Representative David Wu was recently nearly denied entry 
into the Department of Energy building in Washington, DC because guards 
questioned whether he was an American citizen.
  After Representative Wu and an aide arrived, a guard refused to 
recognize his Congressional identification and asked three times 
whether the two were U.S. citizens.
  Eventually, the two were allowed entry by a supervisor but this 
incident indicates the web of suspicion surrounding all Asian 
Americans, and even those that are elected to Congress.
  Following the incident, Representative Wu wrote U.S. Energy Secretary 
Spencer Abraham:

       I am disturbed that yesterday's incident is the tip of an 
     iceberg, an indicator of a much larger problem at DOE which 
     maybe damaging our national security.

  Representative Wu has asked Secretary Abraham to review employment 
practices and operating procedures to prevent future discrimination 
against employees of Asian descent. I join with Representative Wu in 
this important request.
  Lastly, in recent months, a distinguished public servant currently 
the Secretary of Labor, has been harshly

[[Page S6597]]

and unfairly attacked and her loyalty questioned because, as a Chinese-
American, she has knowledge of China, has met with Chinese business 
people, citizens, and leaders.
  This is yet another case in which ethnic background appears to be 
sufficient grounds to question someone's patriotism, someone's business 
activities, and in this case, even the conduct of Elaine Chao's husband 
as a U.S. Senator.
  Another troubling incident involves the case of Matt Fong, a former 
Treasurer of the State of California and a former Lieutenant colonel in 
the U.S. Air Force, who has been nominated as Under Secretary of the 
Army and has had his loyalty to our nation questioned.
  As it transpires, Mr. Fong unknowingly accepted some funds which he 
should not have in order to retire debt from his 1994 campaign for 
California treasurer from Ted Sioeng, an Indonesian businessman.
  But when Mr. Fong discovered that some of these funds came from 
Sioeng's personal account, he immediately returned the money. There 
were legitimate questions raised about the Sioeng donation but Matt 
Fong did the right thing when he found out: He returned the money.
  I am sad to say that questionable campaign contributions of this sort 
occur more often than they should, from people of all ethnicities and 
backgrounds. That is one of the reasons why campaign finance reform is 
so essential.
  So why in this case are there some who still raise questions about 
Mr. Fong's loyalty, suggesting that because of this contribution, which 
some believe may have originated with the Chinese government, Mr. Fong 
may represent a security risk?
  There is no evidence that the funds to Mr. Fong originated with the 
Chinese government, or that the contribution represents an effort by 
the Chinese government to ``buy'' Mr. Fong. But because of Mr. Fong's 
ethnicity, just leveling the allegation creates an environment of 
suspicion which by its nature is difficult to refute.
  All is insinuation, and I am loath to say that it appears that it can 
only be for one reason why these questions have been raised: Mr. Fong's 
  As Karen Narasaki, President and Executive Director of the National 
Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium put it:

       Fong's mother served as California Secretary of State for 
     many years and Fong himself has served his country, both in 
     the Air Force and as California State Treasurer. To question 
     his loyalty to the U.S. is the worst sort of racial 

  I am disappointed that there are many who appear to believe that it 
is still acceptable to attack Asian Americans. This is completely 
unacceptable in America.
  All Americans should be highly offended by the negative stereotypes 
and media coverage of Asian-Americans who have made profound 
contributions to our nation.
  How can we question the loyalty of any American because of his or her 
race or ethnic background? To put it simply, this is un-American and 
must be stopped.
  We all need to work together to raise awareness about the positive 
contributions all Asian Americans have made to every aspect of life 
here in the United States, and of the sacrifices they have made in 
defense of this country.
  We must redouble our efforts to eliminate racial stereotypes that 
strike at the heart of American values and shame us all.


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