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China Daily Website  

Chinese voters hold heated debates

Updated: 2016-11-08 13:33
By JUNE CHANG in San Francisco (chinadaily.com.cn)

Emotions are running high among Chinese-American voters in the San Francisco Bay Area with the issues of the presidential election creating a divide.

Which candidate to vote for remains a vexing question in the community and also a divisive one. Many admit that this election is more about choosing the lesser of two evils to preside over the United States for the next four years.

"Neither of the presidential candidates is a strong leader that we can instill our belief in him or her for America's future," said He Konghua, chairwoman of the Greater China Women's Association and a board member of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese.

The community is deeply split and has engaged in furious debates over major issues, such as equal education and employment opportunities for Asian Americans versus their peers of different races and ethnic backgrounds, to issues such as gun control and the legalization of marijuana.

"In the past week, I got several phone calls and emails every day encouraging me to vote in the 2016 election. I'm glad the activists have reached out to the Chinese community. This is very important that Chinese Americans are realizing their power as a voter, no matter which party they stand by," said a voter surnamed Tsui in the Silicon Valley.

"I never feel our Chinese people could be this involved and attached to politics," said Luo Ping, a community activist who once organized grassroots Chinese-American organizations and immigrants to oppose the introduction of California Senate Constitutional Amendment No 5 (SCA-5), a bill proposed by a Democratic state senator on Jan 30, 2014, that would allow public educational institutions in California to use race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin as a consideration for admitting students or hiring employees.

The political situation for Chinese Americans in the Golden State is deteriorating, said Peter Lam, a financial analyst at an investment bank who moved to the area 30 years ago.

"I witnessed how the Democratic Party manipulated the public opinion and adopted what I would call ‘extreme tactics' to lure voters in recent years," he said, adding that he switched his voter registration to Republican eight years ago.

Although the turnout of Asian Americans at the polls is expected to be higher than in previous elections, Tsui advised the community to unite.

"But it's (the turnout) not enough. The minority groups can only grow strong by getting united with each other. We Chinese Americans should join hands with other ethnic groups; the internment of Japanese Americans is a good lesson to learn from," he said in reference to what happened to Americans of Japanese descent during World War II when the US was at war with Japan.

Lia Zhu in San Francisco contributed to this story.

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