Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden speaks while campaigning in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: AFP / Kyle Rivas / Getty Images

Last week I suggested that getting along with China would be essential to making America better. I had Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden in mind when I wrote that commentary.

When I saw Biden’s first campaign TV spot positioning him to be a more emphatic China basher than Donald Trump, I was deeply troubled. Promptly, I did an e-mail blast to my friends with my piece attached urging them to forward it to Biden’s camp.

One friend was quick to react. He said he had contacted someone in Washington close to the Biden campaign and shown him my piece. That person said that if I made a sizable donation to the campaign, I could join in a Zoom videoconference and tell Biden personally.

‘Pay to play’ the rot of politics

I didn’t even bother to check on the minimum buy-in required. I don’t believe, and never have, that the exercise of democracy should be based on “pay as you go.”

A group of WeChat members, all first-generation immigrants to the US from the People’s Republic of China, read my piece and asked me to lead a discussion on how to support Biden. Yes, WeChat is an app from China, but participation is open to anyone.

First, I am going to tell them that they do not have to kiss up to the Biden camp. As an organized group of voters, they can expect to be heard. The bigger the group, the louder is their voice.

They should inform the Biden organizers that bashing China as a campaign issue has reached the point of diminishing return. Rather than a tired and worn-out subject, the pandemic is a real adversary for the US, and Trump’s response amply displays his ineptitude and incompetence. 

To win, just present facts on Trump

Every week, the Biden camp simply needs to compile and publish a list of falsehoods, failures to deliver, contradictions and position reversals from Trump to show the American people that he has been an abject failure as president.

By not savaging bilateral relations with China, Biden could be doing himself an important favor. Should he become the next president, he will be glad to have left a bridge open.

Also important for the group is to act as proud Chinese-Americans and not pretend to be aspiring white American wanna-bes. 

By throwing all sorts of accusations at China over the pandemic, the Trump administration has succeeded in convincing the less educated and ignorant segments of the population that Chinese-Americans are somehow responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.                              

We resent being targets of bigotry and racist attacks. We should ask Biden to defend our civil rights vigorously and affirm that Chinese-Americans are a loyal and important part of American society.

If anyone wonders why we are making a big fuss over being racially profiled, that person obviously has never been a target of racism. Racial prejudice does not just come from Trump’s right wing, but from every corner, and is steeped in the history of American society. 

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked on CNBC why she does not use Zoom, the popular videoconferencing software, so that her colleagues can stay home and not become exposed to the virus that causes Covid-19.

Chinese-Americans are not ‘China’

Pelosi’s reply was that Zoom is a Chinese entity and can’t be trusted. In fact, although Eric Yuan, the chief executive officer and founder of Zoom, was originally from China, he is a naturalized American citizen. The company is based in Silicon Valley and listed on Nasdaq. 

She could have learned from a Bloomberg Businessweek cover article that Zoom has, well, zoomed in popularity while helping relatives and friends locked down at home to bridge their social distances.

At best, given Pelosi’s progressive reputation, her racial bias was just an autonomous reflex swayed by her decades of negative feelings for the People’s Republic of China.

As S B Woo, former lieutenant-governor of Delaware and founder of 80/20, points out in his latest mass-distribution letter, Chinese living in the US are being tarred by the animosity directed toward China. Ethnic Chinese, American citizens or not, have become targets of verbal and physical abuse.

Racists and bigots don’t bother to make, or are not capable of making, a distinction between a Chinese person or any other Asian. They are equal-opportunity hurlers of insults and stones.

Asian-Americans represent the fastest-growing ethnic group in the US and now total around 20 million. If they stand together, they are a viable political force to be reckoned with in many states and jurisdictions, where their collective presence is enough to swing an election.

When politicians call, they are only interested in soliciting a donation. Asian-Americans must stand tall and demand a pledge to protect their civil rights and ensure that they enjoy all the privileges that go with citizenship.

No promise? No contribution.

Dr George Koo recently retired from a global advisory services firm where he advised clients on their China strategies and business operations. Educated at MIT, Stevens Institute and Santa Clara University, he is the founder and former managing director of International Strategic Alliances. He is currently a board member of Freschfield’s, a novel green building platform.