May 19, 2021
U.S. Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20500
NAKASEC Recommendation RE: U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260)
On behalf of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) Network (Northern VA; Chicago, IL; Montgomery County, PA; Houston Area, TX), we urge you to remove all sections from the “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act” (S. 1260) that position the United States in a pseudo-Cold War against China and contribute to McCarthyist, racist stereotypes about Asian Americans.
Founded in 1994, the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium’s (NAKASEC) mission is to organize Korean and Asian Americans to achieve social, economic, and racial justice. The NAKASEC Network–spanning Northern VA, Illinois, Greater Philadelphia, and Houston Area, TX–also serves more than 30,000 low-income families across the country through public health and social services, immigration legal services, and housing counseling.
We cannot achieve social, economic, and racial justice–or combat the current anti-Asian sentiment, for that matter–when Senate Democratic leaders, the elected officials whose leadership we look towards, are actively legislating policy that positions the United States in a pseudo-Cold War against the “malign” influence of China.
The inclusion of this anti-China policy in innovation and science legislation is particularly noteworthy. As Asian American scholars Siu and Chun write, “the notion of the non-differentiable ‘yellow’ masses…the phantasm of the Chinese contagion, spy, and technological behemoth…continues to function as a homogenizing and dehumanizing device of Asian racialization.” Formed through the “union of Japanese technological advance and Chinese numerical mass,” the trope of “contagion, spy, and technological behemoth” certainly continues to thrive in 2021. It has powered the sinophobia of the COVID-19 pandemic (through pandemic tropes of Asian contagion and the virus’ purported origins in wet markets and/or laboratories) – and today’s legislation.
This political rhetoric has real effects on cultural racism against Asian Americans. A recent Gallup poll reported that 45% of Americans now believe China is the greatest enemy to the U.S., which is more than double the percentage who said so in 2020. Both sides of the aisle have been guilty of perpetuating this through the course of the last year, from Trump’s consistent attributions of COVID-19 to China to then candidate and now President Biden’s racist and Orientalist posturing about China as a mythical techno-threat to the U.S.
We urge you, as our elected officials, to take leadership by diverting from this course of harmful rhetoric and policy. Unity achieved through the utilization and codification of racist stereotypes is not true national unity. We ask that you remove all sections from the “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act” (S. 1260) that position the United States in a pseudo-Cold War against China and contribute to McCarthyist, racist stereotypes about Asian Americans.
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)