UCA Applauds Demise of DOJ’s China Initiative

By United Chinese Americans (UCA)

We at UCA are not only relieved, but encouraged to see the first positive step the DOJ has taken to end the flawed and controversial “China Initiative.”

We applaud Attorney General Garland and Assistant Attorney General Olsen for listening to the various concerns of Chinese Americans and other affected communities regarding the harm of this program. We are thankful for the many organizations and individuals who stepped up to help redeem the integrity of America’s judicial system, and reclaim the democracy promised to our nation.

While the United States has a legitimate need to counter espionage and illicit transfer of technology and intellectual property—a concern UCA fully supports—singling out one nation among a myriad of threats from a myriad of countries has fueled the practice of racial and country of origin profiling in a time where anti-Asian hate crimes are already at a record high.

As US-China relations worsens, another deeply troubling development with the DOJ’s China Initiative, and indeed with other Federal agencies, is the casual, overly broad application—or even abusive—use of national security as a means to deal with real or perceived illicit activities of individuals from or with ancestral ties to certain countries, especially China. Many Chinese American scientists under investigation or prosecution by the China Initiative are treated as if they were spies or foreign agents for China, which has led to irrevocable damage both to these individuals and to the credibility of our law enforcement agencies.

At the heart of the China Initiative is the perception of Asian Americans—especially Chinese Americans today—as “perpetual foreigners” whose loyalty to America is often questioned. It’s this harmful impression that has subjected our community to scrutinization, mistrust, and thus unequal treatment under law by the very same government sworn to protect us. This must change if America is ever to remain a viable, rule-of-law based democracy.

As we acknowledge the progress made by the DOJ with regard to the China Initiative, we will continue to be watchful and hold federal law enforcement agencies accountable, not only by its long-standing values and tradition, but by the new prosecutorial guidelines.

In particular, we call for the DOJ to use its new guidelines to review and drop those charged scientists whose only “crime” concerns research integrity. We further call on the FBI to immediately review those scientists under investigation and terminate cases that this new protocol specifically prohibits or excludes. Last, we call on the federal law enforcement agencies to start a meaningful and sustained dialogue with Asian American communities, initiate innate or counter bias training, and account for and remedy the consequential harm the prosecution under China Initiative has caused among the directly affected scientists and their families.

For years, UCA has been at the forefront of the fight for our constitutionally guaranteed civil rights and civil liberties, starting with the wrongful prosecution of Sherry Chen and Xiaoxing Xi in 2015. UCA will continue to be the watchdog and defender of civil rights for our community, and hold the United States to the promises of equal justice, freedom and fairness it has claimed to be built on.