Coalition of Asian American and Allied Partners Successfully Stop House Attempt to Reinstate ‘China Initiative’

Advancing Justice – AAJC, AASF, Stop AAPI Hate/ CAA, and nearly 50 coalition partners came together to oppose reinstatement of the China Initiative
For Immediate Release
Michelle Boykins (202) 296-2300, ext. 0144

Washington, DC — On March 6, the House passed the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Act, 2024 after removing language to reinstate the controversial ‘China Initiative.’ The Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF), Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC (Advancing Justice – AAJC), Stop AAPI Hate/ CAA and nearly 50 coalition partners came together to oppose the original bill’s explanatory materials that contained language to revive the now-defunct program. The explanatory statement accompanying the revised bill released on March 3 removed the provision directing the Department of Justice to reinstate the China Initiative, after advocates and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) leaders demonstrated strong opposition. 

“The removal of language to reinstate the China Initiative is of absolute critical importance to the Asian American scholar community,” said Gisela Perez Kusakawa, Executive Director of the Asian American Scholar Forum. “On behalf of the Asian American Scholar Forum, I give our deepest thanks to the nearly 50 organizations who stood by in solidarity with the Asian American scholar community. Community members and advocates came together to demonstrate that Asian American scholars are not alone and that they have a whole community of advocates and peers standing with them. This advocacy has made a concrete impact and demonstrates the power of our collective action. AASF will continue to lift up the voices of the Asian American scholar community and advocate for their rights.” 

“Lawmakers listened to our concerns regarding language to reinstate the now-defunct China Initiative and as a result, the latest attempt has been defeated,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC. “When the ‘China Initiative’ was in effect it ultimately led to increased targeting and racial profiling of Asian American and Asian immigrant scientists, researchers, and scholars. Advancing Justice – AAJC applauds the leaders in Congress for remaining vigilant and steadfast in preserving the recent advances we have made towards racial justice and equity.” 

“We applaud lawmakers and the coalition of organizations who advocated to ensure the China Initiative will not be reinstated, as it fueled sinophobia and racial profiling while doing little to advance national security interests,” said Cynthia Choi, Co-Founder of Stop AAPI Hate. “When implemented, the China Initiative unjustly targeted innocent Asian scientists, scholars, and researchers for years simply based on their ethnicity and national origin. It also created a broader chilling effect on Asian American academics, many of whom were wrongfully prosecuted under the program. As we work towards building a more equitable and just society, the harms caused by the China Initiative remind us that we cannot allow leaders to use national security as an excuse for discriminatory, unjust policies, and programs.”