Chi­nese vot­ers in Bay Area clash over the is­sues

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By JUNE CHANG in San Fran­cisco junechang@chi­nadai­lyusa.com Lia Zhu in San Fran­cisco con­trib­uted to this story.

Emo­tions are run­ning high among Chi­nese-Amer­i­can vot­ers in the San Fran­cisco Bay Area with the is­sues of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cre­at­ing a di­vide.

Which can­di­date to vote for re­mains a vex­ing ques­tion in the com­mu­nity and also a di­vi­sive one. Many ad­mit that this elec­tion is more about choos­ing the lesser of two evils to pre­side over the United States for the next four years.

“Nei­ther of the pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates is a strong leader that we can in­still our be­lief in him or her for Amer­ica’s fu­ture,” said He Konghua, chair­woman of the Greater China Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion and a board mem­ber of the Al­lChina Fed­er­a­tion of Re­turned Over­seas Chi­nese.

The com­mu­nity is deeply split and has en­gaged in fu­ri­ous de­bates over ma­jor is­sues, such as equal ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for Asian Amer­i­cans ver­sus their peers of dif­fer­ent races and eth­nic back­grounds, to is­sues such as gun con­trol and the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana.

“In the past week, I got sev­eral phone calls and emails ev­ery day en­cour­ag­ing me to vote in the 2016 elec­tion. I’m glad the ac­tivists have reached out to the Chi­nese com­mu­nity. This is very im­por­tant that Chi­nese Amer­i­cans are re­al­iz­ing their power as a voter, no mat­ter which party they stand by,” said a voter sur­named Tsui in the Sil­i­con Val­ley.

“I never feel our Chi­nese peo­ple could be this in­volved and at­tached to pol­i­tics,” said Luo Ping, a com­mu­nity ac­tivist who once or­ga­nized grass­roots Chi­nese-Amer­i­can or­ga­ni­za­tions and im­mi­grants to oppose the in­tro­duc­tion of Cal­i­for­nia Se­nate Con­sti­tu­tional Amend­ment No 5 (SCA-5), a bill pro­posed by a Demo­cratic state sen­a­tor on Jan 30, 2014, that would al­low pub­lic ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in Cal­i­for­nia to use race, sex, color, eth­nic­ity or na­tional ori­gin as a con­sid­er­a­tion for ad­mit­ting stu­dents or hir­ing em­ploy­ees.

The po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion for Chi­nese in the Golden State is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, said Peter Lam, a fi­nan­cial an­a­lyst at an in­vest­ment bank who moved to the area 30 years ago.

“I wit­nessed how the Demo­cratic Party ma­nip­u­lated the pub­lic opin­ion and adopted what I would call ‘ex­treme tac­tics’ to lure vot­ers in re­cent years,” he said, adding that he switched his voter regis­tra­tion to Repub­li­can eight years ago.

Al­though the turnout of Asian Amer­i­cans at the polls is ex­pected to be higher than in prior elec­tions, Tsui ad­vised the com­mu­nity to unite.

“But it’s (the turnout) not enough. The mi­nor­ity groups can only grow strong by get­ting united with each other. We Chi­nese Amer­i­cans should join hands with other eth­nic groups; the in­tern­ment of Ja­panese Amer­i­cans is a good les­son to learn from,” he said in ref­er­ence to what hap­pened to Amer­i­cans of Ja­panese de­scent dur­ing World War II when the US was at war with Ja­pan.

MIKE BLAKE / REUTERS

Elec­tion work­ers ver­ify mail-in bal­lots at the San Diego County Elec­tions Of­fice in San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia, on Mon­day. Mail-in bal­lots started to come in nearly a month ago.

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