Speech on the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPIs) Heritage Month Celebration
2021/05/31

It gives me great pleasure to attend the Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration online. After successfully holding a number of large-scale cultural shows, the United Chinese Community Organization Washington once again leads several dozen associations to celebrate the "AAPIs Heritage Month", demonstrating its effective leadership and enthusiasm for serving the community.

It is of particular significance that this celebration takes place at a time of rising anti-Asian xenophobia in the United States. Throughout American history, AAPIs have made indelible contributions to the development of American society. Currently, there are about 23.2 million AAPIs in the United States, accounting for about 7% of the American population. President Biden said, from laying railroad tracks, tilling fields, to starting businesses, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are deeply rooted in the history of the United States. Many members of the U.S. Congress and local political leaders have emphasized that as part of the overall United States fabric, the history of AAPIs is the history of Americans.

But for a long time, like other minorities in the United States, AAPIs have not been treated fairly and equitably as they deserve. Over the past year and more, many of them have become the victims of hate crimes and racial discrimination. From an elderly Asian American unprovokedly beaten in downtown San Francisco, to an Asian American woman assaulted on the New York subway, to several Asian American women killed in Atlanta shootings, acts of hatred against AAPIs are appalling. According to statistics, from March 2020 to March 2021, there were more than 6,600 hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, up by 54% from the previous year, and most of the victims were ethnic Chinese.

At the same time, we have seen that Biden administration has made racial equity a priority. The U.S. government now has an opportunity to prove to its own people and the international community that it can rebuild America into an inclusive and diverse nation. Earlier this month, President Biden issued A Proclamation on Asian American and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander Heritage Month, 2021, pledging to fight for racial equity. Not long ago, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was passed and signed into law. These commitments are encouraging and commendable.

But is celebrating the history and culture of Asian Americans all enough? Is a legislation to condemn racial discrimination and ease hate crime prosecution all enough? Xenophobia, discrimination and hatred against AAPIs have long existed. We Chinese often say, "It takes more than one cold day for a river to freeze three feet deep". To solve this problem will require unremitting and arduous efforts. For Chinese Americans, there is a factor that must be faced squarely.

History and reality tell us that the situation of Chinese Americans in the United States has everything to do with the state of China-U.S. relations. To be sure, most of the people of Chinese descent here are U.S. citizens. But they also share unbreakable blood ties and cultural bonds with the Chinese and have close emotional and interest connections with China. When the United States regards China as a cooperation partner, Chinese Americans can leverage their unique advantages to build a bridge of exchange and cooperation between the two countries. But when the United States characterizes China as "the most serious competitor", and when countering China has become a popular political slogan in Washington DC, how can Chinese Americans, especially first-generation immigrants, expect better treatment in this country? They will be concerned about being forced to take sides, and they will be reluctant to break with China, a country to which they may owe their heritage, to show loyalty to the United States. They don't want to bite the hand that feed them.

As people celebrate AAPIs Heritage Month, they can gain a deeper understanding of how important respect and tolerance for the cultural traditions of all ethnic groups is to the development of a diverse country as America. The same rule applies to state-to-state relations. If the U.S. can realize that it is only natural for things to be different and that the world becomes wonderful as it is colorful, if the U.S. can deal with China-U.S. relations in an open and inclusive spirit, which has been a source of its national pride and sustained its growth, if it can accept and respect different systems, paths and ideas, America will have a completely different policy towards China, and China-U.S. relations will have an brighter future.

Unity is strength. I hope, all AAPIs groups, including overseas Chinese, and all minority groups, will unite and make greater efforts to serve the country, contribute to the society, and protect themselves and their rights and interests with more useful means. I hope that the Chinese community will continue to bridge differences, promote friendship and advance cooperation between China and the United States, and play a positive role in realizing constructive development of our bilateral relations. I hope that the U.S. government, for the fundamental interests of the American people, including the over five million Chinese Americans, will work with China to build a relationship featuring no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

 

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