Stop AAPI Hate, partners reveal how anti-Asian hate is spread by political candidates via Twitter over the first eight months of the Covid-19 pandemic and in the lead-up to the 2020 election

October 22, 2020 — President Donald Trump is the greatest spreader, among politicians, of anti-Asian American rhetoric related to the pandemic, reveals a new report from Stop AAPI Hate. The report shows that Trump has published 24 tweets in the last eight months that use stigmatizing rhetoric against Asian Americans. These tweets have been retweeted 1,213,700 times and liked 4,276,200 times. 

Stop AAPI Hate’s report titled The Return of “Yellow Peril” presents an analysis of 1,227 tweets about Asian Americans from Republican and Democratic political candidates during the first eight months of the Covid-19 pandemic alongside new anti-Asian policies, offering a view into a political strategy to employ racist rhetoric in order to enact xenophobic policies.

Researchers found that over one in ten of the tweets analyzed include racist or stigmatizing language. Furthermore, the research indicates that nearly half of stigmatizing tweets are unrelated to COVID-19, suggesting that politicians are employing anti-Asian American rhetoric not only in response to the pandemic. 

This voracious spread of anti-Asian rhetoric has been met with a rise in discrimination and racism against Asian Americans. These racist tweets, all of which came from Republican politicians, were retweeted 1,310,828 times. Stop AAPI Hate, the leading aggregator of incidents against Asian Americans during the pandemic, received 2,738 reports of racism and discrimination against the AAPI community between March 19 and October 7, 2020. 

“Unfortunately, the final weeks leading up to the 2020 election are dangerous for Asian Americans,” said Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council. “We continue to see President Trump and other elected officials use fear-mongering and scapegoating of the Asian American community to win the election. From the findings in our latest report, we know that President Trump is a ‘superspreader’ of hate through his use of racist rhetoric, which leaves Asian Americans in harm’s way.”

The report also provides a corresponding timeline of federal policies introduced or enacted during a similar period that disproportionately impact – and in some cases appear to even target – Asian American community members, finding a total of 24 policies from Republican politicians. 

“Each of these policies has a concrete and negative impact on the lives of Asian Americans in a very severe way,” said Russell Jeung, Ph.D., professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. “Whether it is cutting off a family’s use of WeChat to worship with their relatives in Asia or preventing Asian immigrants from reuniting with their families here in America, these policies are negatively impacting millions of lives of Asian Americans here in the U.S.” 

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing electorate of all racial groups. Eleven million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are eligible to vote in this upcoming election and are expected to make up nearly five percent of the nation’s eligible voters. Racial discrimination is among the top concerns for Asian American voters, and racial and ethnic inequality is among the major concerns of all voters

“Just as words and actions matter, so does history,” said Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action. “Racism and xenophobia is not new, and in fact defines our experiences as Asians, as immigrants, as people of color and as Americans. The Trump administration and other elected officials have brought a resurgence of the racist ‘Yellow Peril’ ideology, endangering the lives of Asian Americans. They are exploiting this moment to advance a series of harmful and discriminatory anti-immigrant policies and the Asian American community is using every means available to fight back and raise our voices, including our right to vote to challenge this rhetoric and help ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”

Stop AAPI Hate released the findings yesterday in a press briefing, where they were joined by Melissa Borja, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of American Culture at the University of Michigan, Jose Ng, immigrant rights manager at Chinese for Affirmative Action, Connie Chan, district representative to Assemblymember Kevin Mullin and Rebecca Wu, intern with the Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign. 


Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition aimed at addressing anti-Asian American discrimination amid the pandemic, was founded by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) and San Francisco State University’s Asian American Studies Department (AAS). 

The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON) is a coalition of more than forty community-based organizations that serve and represent the 1.5 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the greater Los Angeles area, with a particular focus on low-income, immigrant, refugee, and other vulnerable populations. 

Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) was founded in 1969 to protect the civil and political rights of Chinese Americans and to advance multiracial democracy in the United States. Today, CAA is a progressive voice in and on behalf of the broader Asian American and Pacific Islander community. We advocate for systemic change that protects immigrant rights, promotes language diversity, and remedies racial and social injustice. 

SF State Asian American Studies (AAS) is the oldest and largest such academic program in the nation. Founded after the 1968-69 Black Student Union and Third World Liberation Front student strike, it maintains the strike’s values of student activism, social justice, and community self-determination.