Supporters of former University of Tennessee professor Dr. Anming Hu. (APA Justice)

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, OCA–Asian Pacific American Advocates and more than 20 other Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) groups signed a joint letter urging the Biden Administration to pause the U.S. Department of Justice’s “China Initiative” and launch an independent review to determine whether the Trump-era program unfairly targeted individuals based on their race, ethnicity, or ancestry.

Nearly 100 members of Congress, led by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), previously asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to probe the DOJ’s targeting of individuals of Asian descent in July, citing claims that researchers and professors have been racially profiled and falsely accused of providing intelligence to China.

The letter, spearheaded by Stop AAPI Hate and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), also called on the Biden Administration to redouble its efforts to protect the AAPI community ahead of this month’s expected release of the U.S. intelligence community’s 90-day investigation on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic — warning that it could be used to legitimize racist language and scapegoating of those of AAPI descent.

“The sad but undeniable truth is that the simple existence of that report will put our communities at risk,” the groups wrote to Biden. “Despite the good intentions of your administration’s forthcoming report, its release will require you to redouble your efforts to combat anti-AAPI hate and violence — to speak out and to act.”

Thursday’s letter was sent two weeks after dozens of AAPI community leaders met with President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House to discuss the rise in anti-Asian attacks. Meanwhile, Stop AAPI Hate said it had received a total of 9,081 reports of hate incidents between March 19, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

CAPAC Chair Statement on Retrial of Dr. Anming Hu

After FBI agents admitted under oath to knowingly building a case on falsified evidence, resulting in a mistrial, the U.S. government on July 30 announced that it would be retrying Dr. Anming Hu. 

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, expressed her outrage that the Department of Justice would continue to press its case, which she said is based on racial profiling.

Tried as part of the problematic “China Initiative,” which presumes Chinese scientists and researchers to be possible spies based only on ethnicity, Hu, a Canadian researcher working at the University of Tennessee Knoxville since 2013, was accused of spying for China based on a paperwork filing error and the FBI’s admitted lies. 

Chu, who has called for a halt to the China Initiative, issued the following statement:

“Instead of the normal process of beginning with a crime and searching for a suspect, the FBI has, through its China Initiative, started with racially profiled suspects and searched for a crime. Many of the FBI’s cases have been flawed from the start, evident in the number of cases that have been dropped without any explanation, and despite the incredible harm done to those whose lives have been turned upside down by these investigations.

“The case of Dr. Anming Hu is the most glaring example of how investigations rooted in racial profiling lead to flimsy cases that cannot stand up in court. Worse, in order to justify this investigation, we know that FBI agents have falsified evidence.

“Yet instead of accepting that Dr. Hu does not in any way present a threat to our national security, the DOJ is disappointingly doubling down, pressing for a retrial to justify their fruitless investigation.

“We must take national security threats seriously, but the China Initiative does not work, and has threatened a return to prejudice as a cornerstone of policy. Unless the DOJ has new evidence against Dr. Hu, this case must be dropped and the China Initiative halted.”

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