With the Fourth of July weekend comes fireworks (invented by Chinese), barbeques (KBBQ is supreme), lifting mask restrictions (freedom?), and reflections on our place in this country’s history (watch Peabody Award winning documentary "Asian Americans"). Thanks for your continued support of the 1990 Institute and newsletter, and please encourage your friends to subscribe so they can get this great content straight to their inboxes.
What is next for the House’s EAGLE Act bill and how will its anti-Chinese rhetoric affect Asian Americans?
By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang
"I believe America will be best positioned to compete with China if it leads and engages the world again,” U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) told Brookings Institute. “The EAGLE Act returns America to the world stage.”
On Wednesday, June 30, U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee began debating and considering amendments to bill H.R.3524, Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act or the EAGLE Act, introduced by Rep. Meeks. This bill seeks to boost economic competitiveness against China; revitalize and reassert U.S. leadership, investment, and engagement in the Indo-Pacific region and globally; enhance U.S.-Taiwan partnership; and push China on human rights.
"I sincerely believe that the United States fell behind, not by supporting China’s rise, but by becoming complacent and shortsighted about bolstering the international order and our alliance system,” said Rep. Meeks. “The last administration forgot that if we don’t lead the world, someone else will take on the mantle. The PRC in many ways saw a vacuum and filled it.”
Last month, in a rare show of bipartisan support, the U.S. Senate passed bill S.1260, United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, by 68-32. S.1260 seeks to challenge China’s technological advances with an investment of about $250 billion in science and technology development and infrastructure.
House leaders are now working on their own bill, H.R.3524, the EAGLE Act. Other House committees are introducing other bills that also address competition with China and the status of Taiwan, such as Taiwan Peace and Stability Act, H.R.3084 Taiwan Fellowship Act, and H.R.2646 Taiwan International Solidarity Act. These may be added to the EAGLE Act, and later, if the EAGLE Act is passed, the Senate and House bills will be combined and both Senate and House will vote again.
As with S.1260, there is some concern that the harsh anti-China rhetoric of Rep. Meeks’ EAGLE Act will lead to increased hate violence against Asian Americans. In an open letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, CODEPINK, a women-led grassroots organization working to end U.S. wars and militarism, urges that anti-China rhetoric be removed from the bill. “As the language in the EAGLE Act that portrays China as manipulative, distortive, and predatory is spread by mainstream media outlets, the narrative paves the way for more dangerous, and potentially deadly, scapegoating of not just China’s politicians and leaders but all Chinese and Chinese-perceived people, including other Asian and Asian American communities.”
Furthermore, anti-China framing is not necessary. At a 1990 Institute webinar on "The Rise of China and Asian Americans" in May, Seton Hall Law Professor Margaret Lewis told 1990 Institute, “We really need to concentrate on making the United States stronger because that's the right thing to do. Not because of China.”
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Volunteers from the 1990 Institute were out alongside other AAPI organizations in support of the AAPI Care Fair in Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square on June 26, 2021 (pictured: 1990 Institute Board member Lisa Hsu, center)
- Three of our Board members – Lisa Hsu, Robecta Ma, and Sandra Pan – volunteered at the AAPI Care Fair on Saturday, July 26 in San Francisco. It was organized by Soar Over Hate, a nonprofit founded by two twenty-somethings after they saw their Asian friends and colleagues experience hateful acts during the pandemic. The event had a big turnout with 2,000+ attendees, 50+ volunteers, and ten partner community organizations.
- The PBS documentary series “Asian Americans,” co-produced by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), won a prestigious 2021 Peabody Award last week. “We at CAAM were immensely proud to partner with WETA and PBS on this profoundly important documentary history series,” Stephen Gong, CAAM’s Executive Director and a member of the 1990 Institute Advisory Council, told WETA. “Now, more than ever, the importance of Asian American history is critical to share in the context of the evolving American narrative. Thank you to the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors for this prestigious recognition.” Congratulations!
- 1990 Institute Advisory Council member Lok Siu, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at University of California, Berkeley, co-authored an insightful comic on the Asian American wealth gap, which was published in June. Asian Americans have the largest economic disparity of any racial group in the U.S. After you look at the comic, head over to YouTube to look at our three-minute video on the Model Minority Myth as we further explore some lesser-known facts about the full range and diversity of Asians in the U.S.
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