Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC Delivers Petition of Nearly 30,000 Signatures Urging President Biden to End the “China Initiative”

Advancing Justice | AAJC delivers petition to President Biden urging him to combat the racial profiling of scientists and researchers of Asian descent
For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC) delivered a petition to President Biden with nearly 30,000 signatures from impacted persons, concerned citizens, and community members urging the administration to put an immediate end to the “China Initiative” and take action to combat the racial profiling and targeting of Asian Americans and Asian immigrants by federal agencies, particularly the Department of Justice (DOJ), the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“Asian Americans and immigrants across the country have faced not only the deadly impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating attacks of hate on their most vulnerable, but are also being scapegoated and targeted by law enforcement and the federal government,” said Gisela Perez Kusakawa, NAPABA Law Foundation Community Law Fellow at Advancing Justice | AAJC. “The result is an entire generation of Asian Americans and immigrants who live in fear of being subjected to a misguided scrutiny that other Americans do not face in a country they consider their home. We call on the Biden administration to end the “China Initiative,” as well as a thorough internal review of policies and take measures to combat racial bias against Asian Americans and Asian immigrants.” 

“We are working with Asian American and immigrant scientists who have committed their entire lives to furthering scientific knowledge only to have their lives ruined by false implications of spying,” said Vivin Qiang, Program Coordinator of the Anti-Racial Profiling Project at Advancing Justice | AAJC. “Others are being surveilled by a government and opting out of career opportunities for fear of being targeted next. We created this petition in response to a desire by community members to take action, and thousands made their voices heard.” 

In recent years, the U.S. government has greatly increased the targeting and racial profiling of Asian American and Asian immigrant scientists, researchers, and scholars, particularly those of Chinese descent. Under great pressure by former President Donald Trump, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions launched the “China Initiative” in November 2018 to allegedly combat economic espionage for the Chinese government. In reality, many investigations and prosecutions under the “China Initiative” are not based upon evidence of economic espionage and do not target people acting on the direction of or on behalf of the Chinese Government. When the government fails to find evidence of espionage, it opts to charge many Asian Americans and Asian immigrants with federal crimes based on administrative errors or minor offenses. The DOJ’s own press release shows that only about a quarter of the cases under the initiative are for economic espionage as of November 12, 2020.

The White House mandate under the “China Initiative” pressured federal agencies such as the FBI and NIH to scrutinize Asian Americans and Asian immigrants based on their ethnicity. As a result, federal agencies have injected racial bias into our academic institutions encouraging staff to treat Asian American and immigrant scientists and researchers as suspects. This has contributed to a growing fear among Asian Americans and Asian immigrants of being subjected to discriminatory investigations and unjust prosecutions in academic institutions across the country.

Advancing Justice | AAJC urges President Biden to listen to the concerns of many community members, impacted persons, and concerned citizens who support this petition and we look forward to the administration’s actions to combat racial profiling within our federal institutions and put an end to the criminalization of Asian Americans and Asian immigrants in this country.