CAA was recently featured on APEX Express to discuss the escalation of national security scapegoating of Chinese and Chinese American scientists, scholars, and students. APEX Express is an Asian American centered radio show on KPFA, and highlights an AACRE organization monthly. Racial profiling is on the rise largely due to tense relations between the United States and China. CAA Co-Executive Director Cynthia Choi and renowned award-winning author and journalist Helen Zia, as well as activist Joyce Xi, daughter of Xiaoxing Xi, Chinese American who was wrongfully persecuted by the US government, joined the show

Wen Ho Lee, CAA Fights Back

Helen Zia shared how historic fear and distrust of Asian Americans have resulted in Japanese Internment,  Chinese Americans accused in the Red Scare and then in 1999, the imprisonment of Wen Ho Lee. Political pressure pushed the FBI to charge scientist Wen Ho Lee with a full gamut of allegations (59 counts) and despite being proven innocent, the damage was already done. In the time it took for CAA and many communities and scientific groups to shut down the FBI’s claims of espionage, Wen Ho Lee’s reputation was ruined in the eyes of the media and academia. While the federal judge ultimately apologized to Wen Ho Lee, Wen Ho Lee could never return to his life as a researcher. Unfortunately, Wen Ho Lee’s high profile story was not unique nor the last of its kind.

“What we are seeing today is a refinement and a continuation of [racial profiling]. It was career enhancement to find Chinese spies and it is even more so. And it is not just national labs, any student who is of Chinese ancestry can be accused of a spy today.” – Helen Zia, Author, and Journalist

Xiaoxing Xi: Racial Profiling Today

Joyce Xi grew up not knowing Wen Ho Lee’s story but in the summer of 2015, she would learn how closely his story would mirror her father’s. In May 2015, Temple Professor Xiaoxing Xi was arrested for suspected espionage by armed officers in the morning. Ultimately, all charges of espionage against Professor Xi were dropped but not without a fight. Professor Xi had to struggle for months to clear his name all the while the media trampled his reputation.

Joyce saw that similar incidents happened to many other Asian Americans as well to other communities of color. Black activists are being tracked and targeted by the FBI. Muslim communities faced a bigotted travel ban. Immigrant families are being targeted for deportation.

“When the prosecution came down, all this negative media dealing with all the negative attention came because the government made this accusation that was completely false, but we had no ability to counter it. We just lived in fear, we avoided people, friends stopped talking to us, we didn’t know how to interact with the world anymore.” Joyce Xi

Next Steps

CAA is actively monitoring and keeping track of Professor Xi’s case as well as any future case of racial profiling.  If you are interested in learning more about this issue and receiving a know-your-rights presentation or if you or someone you know is being racially targeted by law enforcement, please contact CAA at (415) 274-6750.

“It is extremely important that we come together as a community to stand up against all forms of racial profiling and fear mongering.  You may not think this matter affects you or your community but it should concern all of us who care about government abuse and protecting the civil rights for everyone.”  – Cynthia Choi

AACRE Coordinator, Tracy Nguyen hosts APEX Express’ monthly radio shows featuring a different AACRE organization each time. Check back every 4th Thursday for featured shows of one of 11 AACRE organizations. See here for an archive of past shows.