Chinese-Americans who supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election anxiously await his next move as the newly sworn-in president threatens a trade war with China and establishes ties with Taiwan.
David Tian Wang, 33, a businessman originally from Beijing, founded “Chinese Americans for Trump,” which paid for billboards and aerial banners in more than a dozen states.
“My members worshipped Trump religiously for a whole year,” Wang told the Economist.
The group also used Chinese-language Internet forums and messaging apps, including WeChat, to gather supporters in areas where Asian voters can swing elections, such as southern California.
While there are nearly 4 million Chinese-Americans in the country, early immigrants from southern China, Hong Kong and Taiwan lacked education, moved to inner cities and didn’t have good jobs, making them a target for Democratic politicians offering welfare, said Wang.
He added that immigrants from mainland China were the opposite and “want to mingle with white people.”
Most Asian-Americans identify as Democrats rather than Republicans, but almost half shy away from party politics, according to a Pew Research Center study.
Dan Ichinose, a project manager with the Los Angeles-based group Asian Americans Advancing Justice, explained the political influence of Asian-Americans is growing.
“Between 2002 and 2012, there was a 60 percent increase in the number of Asian-Americans who registered to vote, so this growth is happening not only in places like California and New York, but places like the South, places like the Midwest. Particularly in close races, the Asian-American vote matters now,” Ichinose told VOA News.
Phillip Chen, a Republican of Taiwanese origin, won a California State Assembly seat in November, and it was all because of Asian votes.
His Chinese-American constituents shared an overall admiration for Trump’s business acumen, and concerns for issues such as taxes, regulation, law and order, and illegal immigration.
Meanwhile, Asians who backed Hillary Clinton, like Mike Lee, a sales director from Taiwan, are afraid that Trump will use the island to bargain with China.
Others, like John Lin, a businessman from southern China, doesn’t regret voting for Trump, saying “generally speaking a man has more control than a woman.”
Lin also found the talk of a trade war laughable.
“Walmart can’t survive without Chinese products,” he said, adding that Trump just needs time to become “more familiar with the world.”
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