In the rifted and deadlocked US presidential election, who do Chinese-Americans want to win？What are their concerns and appeals behind the vote? What are their expectation for the country, although some may be futile?
Answers to these questions vary from person to person. The Global Times reached out to four Chinese-Americans for their views on the election, of which two are Trump supporters, one supports Biden and another doesn't like either of the two candidates. With different backgrounds and thoughts, they sketched a broad spectrum of Chinese Americans' political preferences, which to some extent reflects the current situation in US society.
A Trump supporter: "Many middle-class Chinese-American mothers support Trump" -
Han Mei (pseudonym), an internet company staff member in Washington state
GT: Why do you support Trump in this election?
Han: Instead of merely chanting empty slogans, I think Trump has done some practical things during his presidency. The US economy has shown an obvious growth and the stock market has had a very good performance in the past four years. Unemployment has also remained relatively low. Trump also signed a first-phase trade agreement with China.
I don't think Biden is incompetent to [develop] the economy, but I haven't seen his performances in this field. Although some of the policies and ideas he introduced at the presidential debates sound beneficial to middle-class Chinese-American families, I don't have any idea about whether he will actually put them into practice.
I'm surely not 100-percent satisfied about the two candidates as neither of them is the "best candidate" for president in some ways. Nonetheless, as you know, voting for a third candidate in the US is equivalent to throwing away your vote. So, I would rather support Trump.
GT: Do the Chinese communities around you support Trump or Biden more?
Han: Trump receives more support than Biden does among the middle-class Chinese families around me. They [support Trump] for economic reasons, as they feel that their wages and living standards have gone up in the past four years.
My views represent the thoughts of some of the female Chinese-American voters around me, especially the 30-something mothers who are also civil servants or private shopkeepers. We all think that the Democrats' equal rights claim is hypocritical, and we will never accept the legalization of marijuana.
Trump's proposals to control illegal immigration is a good thing. Moreover, although Trump has a big mouth and has made some sexist remarks, I haven't actually seen him discriminate against women through his actions. We middle-class Chinese women have enjoyed good job opportunities and incomes [during his presidency].
GT: Biden seems more likely to win the election now. What's your view on that? What do you think of the US' future?
Han: There are always two sides to a coin, and no matter if Trump or Biden gets elected, it will be a mixed result. I don't know what a Biden-led America will be like, but I would be fine with his election as president if he can live up to his campaign promises. We ordinary people don't really pay much attention to the big, national-level matters, because we prefer to take care of our own business.
However, I would think about leaving the US if the violent behaviors — beatings, smashes, and lootings - get out of hand someday. There have been more and more homeless people showing up in city centers, but the police are unable to deal with that. Police in the "blue states" (or Democratic-leaning states) we live in are really bad at solving these problems.
GT: Many people are worried about the strife, unrest and social instability that may occur after the election. Have you prepared anything to protect yourself from the possible dangers?
Han: The chaos may not immediately affect us residents as most residential areas in the US are not close to urban districts. Nonetheless, I will be careful and avoid going out unnecessarily after the election.
Living in a "blue state" we witnessed many people take part in "anti-Trump parades" in 2016 after he won, but they were all peaceful marches that were acceptable to me. If the protests turn violent with beatings and other problems this year, I would probably stay at home for the next two or three weeks.
A Biden supporter: "this election makes me shudder" -
Tang, a university teacher in Minnesota state
GT: Why do you support Biden in this election?
Tang: Because I agree with some ideas that the Democratic Party advocates, such as securing universal health care, spending more on education and not pursuing unilateralism. As an establishment Democrat, Biden won't do things recklessly. If Biden is elected, we can clearly forecast his future policies. Also, he is more likely to build a relatively stable relationship with China after taking office.
Trump, by contrast, is a "crazy guy" who has been infamous in the media over the past 20 years. I don't understand why so many Chinese-Americans - and even people back in China - blindly worship him.
GT: What do you think of the Chinese community's living conditions in the US throughout the past four years?
Tang: The deteriorating US-China relationship over the past four years has posed a big threat to, and has caused actual impact on, the overall living environment of Chinese people in the US, who to some extent represent the faraway country of China in the US with their "Chinese faces." I had personally received crank calls asking me to go back to China.
I believed that the overall living environment of Chinese in the US will significantly improve after Biden takes office.
GT: Some Chinese-Americans think Biden is incompetent of developing the economy, which may lead to a decline in people's living standards. Are you worried about this?
Tang: I'm not worried. The economic policies that Obama and Biden had made during the eight years of their administration were not particularly groundbreaking or creative based on their institutional considerations. But the US economy is a big "ship" that won't face big problems as long as it avoids hitting the "icebergs." Besides, Democrats advocate to raise taxes on the top 1 percent of wealthy Americans and favor the lower-income groups, and I think these are beneficial policies.
GT: This year's US election is called "the most divisive" and "the most stalemated" one. What are your feelings about it?
Tang: This election makes me shudder and scared.
Trump's character and morals are undeserving of his position considering what he has done in the fields of economic development, international relations, environmental protection and even domestic social security in the past four years. What makes me shudder is that such a person like him is so popular in this election and that there is even a possibility of him being re-elected.
The public might not have been so aware of Trump's "moral unfitness" if not for the COVID-19 pandemic this year. But now everyone should have seen clearly his failures in responding to the pandemic, which has led to the virus raging on. Under this situation, it is terrible to see almost half of the people still vote for him. I really have no idea what's going on in the heads of half of all Americans.
GT: Do you think Biden is capable of solving the current rifts and other problems in US society?
Tang: Biden can, to some extent, alleviate these problems. I think the main reason for the current social division in the US is that the thoughts and opinions of people living in the big coastal cities are quite different from those residents in small inland towns. As the US' high-tech industries grow rapidly and enterprises in this field are concentrated in the big coastal cities, well-educated talents prefer to live in these metropolises for hope of better jobs.
If establishment Democrats like Biden come into power, they would govern with policies that prevent social division and promote class integration, rather than inflaming racial and class tensions.
GT: The final result of the election has not yet come out. Do you have any plans [after the election]?
Tang: To be honest, I have already made up my mind to either go back to China or move to Canada if Trump is re-elected. My husband and I have even prepared to immediately sell or rent out our house if Trump declares victory in the next one or two day(s). There seems to be many people around me who have similar plans.
A Trump supporter: "I choose the Republican Party because I embrace conservatism" -
Yi Fuxian, a demographer in Wisconsin state
GT: How do you feel about seeing the "cliffhanging" of the election vote count these days? Will you support Trump taking legal action [in swing states]?
Yi: I feel basically unperturbed. I will support Trump's legal action. But my daughter is a strong supporter of Biden and voted for him. She almost cried when she saw that Biden might lose on the evening of November 3.
GT: Why do you support Trump?
Yi: Because I think the Republican Party's ideas are good for raising fertility rate. Republican Ronald Reagan advocated to return to traditional family values after being elected in 1980, leading to a rise in fertility rates that remained stable until 2007. After that, the US' fertility rate had consecutive declines from 2008 to 2017 under the liberal policies that Obama introduced, which caused future recessions in the US.
I think the Democrats' idea of global liberalization, similar to that of some European parties, will lead to a less dynamic and more aging American society in the future, which will increase expenses on health care, social security and lead to higher taxes. I'm not willing to see governments grow bigger and families get smaller.
GT: So you support Trump and the Republican Party because you are more conservative in terms of values? What do you think of the US' future if Biden wins?
Yi: Sort of. In today's world, conservatism has protected thousands of years of human civilization. If Biden wins, I think his liberal ideas will push America into serious economic and social crises in the future.
Conservatism may seem silly, but it can put the brakes on. Caesarean and not breast feeding, for example, were once supported by many elites who mocked their opponents as showing conservative "backwardness." The two were nonetheless proven to increase the incidence of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.
China is a country superstitious in science and lacking in conservatism.
GT: Is there any solid scientific basis for what you just said?
Yi: There's lots of research. Being "conservative" doesn't mean being "backward." Conservatism follows the "laws of nature," and many of its [ideas] are crystallized in thousands of years of human wisdom.
GT: Whom do the Chinese-Americans around you support more in this election? It seems that most Chinese-Americans are Trump supporters based on Chinese-language social media remarks. Is that the case?
Yi: The Chinese Americans around me do support Trump more. People from socialist countries are more likely to embrace conservatism rather than liberalism after coming to the West. This has been shown in this US election, as immigrants from the Chinese mainland, Vietnam and Cuba mostly support Trump, while Latinos and Asians from other regions overwhelmingly support Biden.
In my opinion, liberalism and socialism have a lot in common. Liberalism in the US supports big government and high welfare, while conservatism embraces small government and big society. The first generation of immigrants from the Chinese mainland, with personal experiences of drawbacks of China's former equalitarianism, tend to vote for Republicans, while many second-generation immigrants vote for Democrats.
However, second-generation immigrants are not a big group, as the number of Chinese immigrants in the US was very small before 1990. They are not active on Chinese-language social media, and many of them haven't reached the legal voting age.
GT: Why hasn't the Trump administration's failures in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic changed your support for him?
Yi: I have a different view of the pandemic from many Chinese people. More than 200,000 Americans have died of the virus, but the majority of them were elderly people with an average remaining life expectancy of only 12-14 years. If we followed the Democrats' [lockdown] policies, the economy would shrink, unemployment rate would rise, marriage and fertility rates would fall with 400,000-600,000 fewer children being born next year.
China's fight against COVID-19 has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but it will lead to 1 million fewer children being born next year. Who will suffer more in the pandemic, China or the US?
GT: The effect of fighting COVID-19 should not be evaluated in this way. We can't give up for the elderly people who also have the right to live.
Yi: The elderly have the right to live, and so do the [future] kids.
GT: Isn't the right to live more important to a living person?
Yi: Then that will be a battle between the past and the future. [Authorities] make their polices based on which side they choose.
A nonvoter: "looking forward to a younger leader who can bring the US back to the glory days of last century" -
Jiang, a jewelry trader in California state
GT: Who did you vote for in this year's presidential election?
Jiang: I abstained from voting. Because I like neither of the two candidates.
Trump's responses to this year's COVID-19 outbreak have been disappointing, especially his covering up of pandemic information in the beginning, as well as his failure to control the coronavirus' spread.
Also, we Chinese-Americans hope both countries can get on well with each other. But Trump can't hold his tongue and makes irresponsible remarks on social media, which has led to some bad impacts on Sino-US relations.
Trump only cares about the development of the US itself. He triggered a trade war with China, which has impacted those engaged in international trade like me. We hope the US can keep foreign trade flowing.
[I didn't vote for Biden, either, because] Biden supports a distribution of school opportunities by races. That can lead to some minority students enjoying more education opportunities than their Asian peers do despite their poor academic performance. Asian-Americans are definitely not happy with that. I would have chosen Biden if I was young and had no children. But since I need to have my kid educated, I [oppose Biden's education policy and therefore] don't support him or Trump.
GT: The election result is still pending, and protests have broken out in many places across the US. Are you worried about the current situation?
Jiang: I don't worry about my safety. The whole of Los Angeles is quite safe. We went boating in the city's downtown before election day, where there were various flows of people but they were all basically calm, not as scary as the media shows.
The two parties might be immersed in legal battles [to settle the result of the election]. I guess both of them probably played tricks on each other behind the scenes, and that's part of the reason why I didn't vote this year.
Now I only care about two things: First, I hope the election won't affect the US economy as I have to earn money to feed my child. Second, I care about whether the US President can control the pandemic. My kid is four years old, approaching school age. What can we do if the pandemic continues for another year and prevents him from going to school?
GT: Because you're not satisfied with either of the two candidates, what would your ideal US President and country look like?
Jiang: The two candidates are both septuagenarian old-timers who are like the setting sun. I hope that we could have a younger and more powerful leader who can handle the current situation, like a hero. That would be really "Make America Great Again."
I hope the US can return to its glory days - like the Clinton era in the 1990s. But for now, I don't even dare imagine what America's future will be like.