FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Melissa Stek, firstname.lastname@example.org, 616-550-8039
Washington, DC—48 organizations led by the Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF) and a coalition of Asian American and allied partners who worked to end the Department of Justice’s “China Initiative” sent a letter to Congress today to oppose legislative language that would reinstate the “China Initiative” in the House version of the FY 2024 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations bill (H.R. 5893) and any future iterations of the Initiative. The proposal would reverse the decision to end the “China Initiative”—a devastating program ended last year that raised serious concerns of racial profiling and targeting of Asian Americans and immigrants, particularly of Chinese descent.
Said Gisela Perez Kusakawa, AASF Executive Director: “As an organization representing the concerns of Asian American scholar, scientific, and research communities, we welcomed the Biden administration’s termination of the flawed ‘China Initiative,’ and recognized this as a crucial step towards addressing the long standing concerns of bias and profiling against Asian Americans in our country. During those harrowing three years under the Initiative, we repeatedly saw how wrongful and unjust investigations and prosecutions under the ‘China Initiative’ destroyed lives and ruined careers.
“AASF board member Dr. Gang Chen survived a year-long investigation under the ‘China Initiative’—one he described as a ‘living hell’ for him and his family. No one should have to endure what he endured. No one should be questioned about their loyalty simply because of where they were born or what they look like. We have worked diligently this past year to create bridges between the scholar community and our government, and work towards a pathway of healing and rebuilding trust. Ending this program was a necessary step in the right direction for our country as a whole. There is absolutely no justification to reinstate it. Our country is made stronger when Asian Americans and immigrants are able to contribute freely without fear of discrimination—and the federal government’s budget should be a reflection of that.”
Said Dr. Kai Li, AASF Co-Founder: “The ‘China Initiative’ created a chilling effect on scientists and researchers in Asian American communities, causing great harm not only to individuals and their families, but to the broader scientific community and our country as a whole. Through our research, AASF found that scientists of Chinese descent in the United States have experienced widespread fear during the course of their routine research and academic activities, which has contributed to loss of talent and a hampering America’s scientific progress and competitiveness. Our members of Congress must consider these immediate and far-reaching effects of their legislative proposals. The United States must create an inclusive, welcoming environment in order to attract and retain scientific talent. It is not only a moral imperative, but one that serves our best interests to maintain U.S. leadership in science and technology.”
The letter signatories write:
Our country must live up to our American values and ensure that history does not repeat itself. We must learn from the experiences of Drs. Gang Chen, Anming Hu, and the many others harmed by the ‘China Initiative,’ and reject any efforts to bring back the ‘China Initiative’ or any similar programs. Not only is this in keeping with our American values, but also recognizes the tremendous contributions of Asian American scholars, who should not be treated as collateral damage as US-China tensions worsen. We urge you to ensure that this language is stricken during conferencing, and call on our leaders to protect and advance the rights of Asian Americans in our country.
Access the full letter and complete list of signatories here.
Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF) is a national non-profit that promotes academic belonging, openness, freedom, and equality for all. In response to heightened anti-Asian sentiments and profiling in the U.S., AASF has been a leading national voice fighting for the rights of Asian American and immigrant scientists, researchers, and scholars. AASF membership includes members from the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, in addition to past and current university presidents, provost, vice provosts, deans, associate deans and past and current department chairs.