The recent House committee hearing on TikTok’s ties to China through its parent company, ByteDance, saw lawmakers accuse the Singaporean CEO of working for the Chinese government and associate him with the Chinese Communist Party.
The hearing was condemned as “rooted in xenophobia,” and the increasingly strident tone of politicians is creating conditions for new discriminatory policies at home and the potential for more anti-Asian violence, civil rights leaders said.
At first, people were using racist terms like “Kung-flu” and “China virus” to talk about Covid-19, and Asian Americans were afraid that this language would lead to violence against them. But now, the conversation about China has shifted to focus more on national security concerns.
Criticism of China has evolved from name-calling to a more clinical vocabulary, but an undercurrent of xenophobia remains. Anti-Asian sentiment has risen since the pandemic, with anti-Asian hate crimes on the rise.
While concerns about the Chinese government’s risks to US security are real, some argue that the way they are described is needlessly provocative, counterproductive, and historically inaccurate.
According to Rep. Andy Kim, a New Jersey Democrat, the US should not be goaded into adopting a confrontational stance towards China, just because China views their relationship as an epic struggle. Such framing could lead to poor policy choices, as well as violence domestically. Kim suggests that a zero-sum mentality should not be adopted, and that the United States should be careful about the rhetoric it uses in discussions of China, as well as its policy decisions.
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