May 1, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Nearly 75% of Chinese Americans report discrimination in past year

Demostrators participate in a protest to demand an end to anti-Asian violence on April 04, 2021 in New York City.

Demostrators participate in a protest to demand an end to anti-Asian violence on in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Nearly three out of four Chinese Americans say they have experienced racial discrimination in the past 12 months, and two in three feel a need to stay vigilant about hate crimes or harassment, a new study says.

The big picture: Three years after racial incidents targeting Asian Americans jumped as some people wrongly linked them to COVID-19, Chinese Americans continue to face episodes of discrimination.

  • During Asian American Pacific Island Month in May, Axios will examine the state of Asian Americans — from accomplishments to obstacles, economic well-being and how Asian American history is being preserved in the U.S.

Details: Nearly half of Chinese Americans report being treated with less respect than other people, according to the study, one of the most extensive surveys of Chinese Americans ever conducted.

  • More than a quarter say they've experienced bias or hate episodes such as being physically intimidated or assaulted, having their property vandalized or damaged, and being called racial slurs.
  • The study found that eight in 10 Chinese American citizens were registered voters, and that 91% of those registered voters voted in the 2020 presidential election.
  • Racism, crime, gun control, and the economy were identified as the top four most important issues facing the U.S. by the survey respondents.

Background: The study was organized by Columbia University and Committee of 100, a nonprofit led by prominent Chinese Americans in business, government, academia, health care and the arts.

  • The nationwide survey was conducted online in English, simplified Chinese, and traditional Chinese from October 2022 to December 2022.
  • Participants were chosen based on demographic characteristics, including gender, age, education level, English proficiency, U.S. citizenship, income level, and census data.

State of play: A supplemental report from the FBI indicates that overall hate crimes increased in 2021, rather than declining as the agency initially reported.

  • But even the FBI's initial report found an uptick in hat crimes against Asian Americans.
  • Anti-Asian American/Pacific Islander violence has been rising since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the FBI and advocacy groups. In 2021, anti-Asian hate crimes in San Francisco increased by 567% from the previous year.
  • From March 2020 to March 2022, Stop AAPI Hate counted nearly 11,500 hate crimes against Asian Americans nationwide.

Between the lines: Data on Asian Americans — especially Chinese Americans, who represent about 1.7% of the U.S. population — have been hard to come by because of a lack of studies and extensive surveys.

  • Experts say the lack of data fosters stereotypes and false premises about Asian Americans being a "model minority" and masks disparities and inequalities.

What they're saying: “The Chinese American population is one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the United States, but is underrepresented in politics and policy," Gary Locke, Committee of 100 chair, said in a statement.

  • “This important collaboration between Committee of 100 and Columbia University brings a critical and deeper understanding of the real experiences of Chinese Americans, not the stereotypical assumptions assigned to a  ‘model minority’ group."

What's next: Researchers of the survey recommend incorporating or expanding Asian American history lessons across all levels of education, from K-12 to higher education.

  • They also recommend increasing funding for language access to provide Chinese Americans with low English proficiency equal access to various services.
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