United Chinese Americans (UCA) applauds Attorney General Garland and Assistant Attorney General Olsen for taking the first step to end the flawed “China Initiative.” UCA appreciates the government for listening to the various concerns of Chinese Americans and other affected communities regarding the harm of this program. UCA is thankful for the many organizations and individuals who stepped up to help redeem the integrity of America’s judicial system and reclaim the promise of our democracy.
While the United States has a legitimate need to counter espionage and other illicit transfer of technology and intellectual property—a concern UCA fully supports—singling out one country among a myriad of threats from a myriad of countries has fueled the practice of racial and country of origin profiling at a time when anti-Asian hate crimes are already at a record high.
As US-China relations worsen, another deeply troubling development with the DOJ’s China Initiative—and indeed with other federal agencies—is the convenient, overly broad, and even abusive use of national security as a means to prosecute individuals, especially those with ties to China. Many Chinese American scientists under investigation or prosecution by the China Initiative are treated as if they were spies or foreign agents.
And most shockingly, certain law enforcement officials even publicly acknowledge they have achieved their “national security” goal by creating a chilling effect on the scientific community through the dragnet they put on campus and at research institutions or by overzealous prosecutions through the China Initiative. These methods and practice have led to irrevocable damage both to these scientists and to the credibility of our law enforcement agencies. This is utterly un-American.
At the heart of the China Initiative is the perception of Asian Americans—especially Chinese Americans today—as “perpetual foreigners” whose loyalty to America is often questioned. It’s this harmful mindset that has subjected our community to harsh scrutiny, mistrust, and thus unequal treatment under law by the very same government sworn to protect us. This must change if America is ever to remain a viable democracy based on the rule of law.
As it acknowledges the progress made by the DOJ with regard to the China Initiative, UCA will continue to be watchful and hold federal law enforcement agencies accountable, not only by its long-standing values, but also by the new prosecutorial guidelines. In particular, UCA calls on:
The DOJ to use its new guidelines to immediately review and, if applicable, drop those ongoing cases against scientists whose only charged “crime” concerns research integrity;
The FBI to use the new guideline to immediately review and, if applicable, terminate those ongoing investigations of scientists;
The federal law enforcement agencies to start a meaningful and sustained dialogue with Asian American communities, initiate bias training, discipline agents for their misconduct, and recognize and remedy the harm and suffering the overzealous prosecutions have inflicted upon the scientists and their families.
For years, UCA has been at the forefront of the fight for our constitutionally guaranteed civil rights and civil liberties, through cases such as Sherry Chen, Xiaoxing Xi, Anming Hu and others. UCA will continue to partner with other organizations and communities to hold the United States to her promises of equal justice, freedom and fairness for all.