Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) has spoken out in defense of his controversial anti-China campaign video, insisting that its content is directed not at Chinese citizens, but at their government.
In an emailed statement, Ryan, who is running for Ohio’s open U.S. Senate seat, said he has spent his career “sounding the alarm on China,” which he described as the “greatest economic adversary” of the United States for 40 years. He also accused the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of “currency manipulation, intellectual property theft and artificially depressed wages,” among other claims.
Ryan further noted that he “voted against bad trade deals and tax loopholes that rewarded corporations for shipping our jobs overseas” and “worked every day that [he’s] been in office to level the playing field and invest in workers here.”
“Ohio workers are the best in the world,” he continued, “and I will never apologize for doing everything in my power to take on China and fight for all Ohioans.”
Ryan also noted that he has voted in favor of Rep. Grace Meng’s (D-NY) resolution denouncing anti-Asian sentiment amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. Additionally, he spoke out against racism and hate in the U.S. following the Atlanta mass shooting back in March 2021.
“I’m heartbroken to hear about the senseless murder of eight people yesterday in Atlanta,” he tweeted. “Hate has no place in this country. We must stand up and speak out loudly against racism in America.”
Ryan has been accused of spreading Sinophobia after releasing last week “It’s us vs China,” his campaign video which blames the East Asian country for the surge in job losses and price increases in the U.S.
Roll Call reported that Ryan’s video was created by Left Hook Strategy, a “majority-minority owned firm led by several AAPI partners.”
The video ignited backlash among some AAPI community members, prompting leaders such as Meng and Shekar Narasimhan, the chairman and founder of AAPI Victory Fund, to speak up.
Brad Jenkins, president and CEO of AAPI Victory Fund, said Ryan’s video struck a nerve among the community, especially at a time when attacks against Asian Americans were rampant.
“It just felt like an ad from 20 years ago,” Jenkins, who expressed open discussion about China’s trade policies, told Roll Call. “To spend $3 million right out of the gate blaming China for all the problems in the state of Ohio, that’s not an inspiring message for Asian Americans, or for any communities of color.”
Jenkins added that for Ryan to win the election, he would need the endorsement of the state’s minority communities. He is up against attorney Morgan Harper and community activist Traci Johnson for the competitive Democratic primary on May 3. The general election will occur on Nov. 8.