Tiananmen Square protester and U.S. Army veteran Yan Xiong is going up against former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for a seat in the city’s 10th Congressional District.
In an interview with the New York Post on Sunday, Xiong, 57, said “it would be horrible” if de Blasio gets elected to Congress, adding that the former mayor paid no attention to the Asian American community while he was still leading the city.
“De Blasio ignored Chinatown and Asian American community,” Xiong said. “The Chinese community will not be ignored if I’m elected to Congress.”
Xiong also opposed de Blasio’s educational policies, noting that he changed the city’s gifted and talented program and also tried to abolish the admission test requirement for students to get accepted to specialized high schools.
“His policies don’t encourage students to study hard. He doesn’t understand why Asian American parents care so much about their children’s education. This is good for our nation long-term,” Xiong said.
In his campaign flier, Xiong declared that de Blasio “doesn’t care about our Asian communities” and “openly discriminated against our high-performing students, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
“I cannot think of a person more undeserving of the Chinese community’s support and our efforts than Bill de Blasio,” Xiong continued. “Over the last eight years, he single-handedly destroyed Chinatown’s local economy, left us vulnerable to crime and ruined our children’s education.”
Before coming to the United States as a political refugee in 1992, Xiong was one of the student leaders who protested during the Tiananmen Democratic Movement in 1989. He was arrested and subsequently imprisoned at Qincheng Prison for 19 months. He became one of the movement’s 21 most wanted leaders in China.
Xiong joined the U.S. Army in 1994 and was commissioned in 2003. He is currently a U.S. Army chaplain.
He was one of several people who opposed de Blasio’s plan to close Rikers Island and replace it with four jails in four boroughs, with one of them being a “mega jail” in Chinatown.
“In China, I was a freedom fighter. I joined the Army when I came to America because I wanted to be a freedom defender,” Xiong was quoted as saying.
Xiong and de Blasio are running for a seat in New York’s 10th Congressional District, which covers parts of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, SoHo, Greenwich Village, TriBeCa, the Financial District and Battery Park City. The 10th district also covers parts of Brooklyn in Borough Park, Kensington, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Gravesend.
Xiong and de Blasio will face off in the Democratic primary on Aug. 23.