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Chinese American museum hopes tense relations do not fuel hate crimes

A Washington, D.C., museum attempts to reduce tensions as hate crimes against Chinese Americans are reportedly on the rise.
Posted at 7:17 AM, Mar 16, 2023

From a possible TikTok ban being proposed in Congress to an increase in the U.S. military presence in the Pacific, it's no secret that relations between the United States and China are relatively tense right now. 

In fact, the relationship with China is shaping policy around the world. 

Just this week, a new submarine agreement with the United Kingdom and Australia was announced, in part, to compete with China.

However, many Chinese Americans fear the tense relationship could result in an increase in hate crimes or discrimination. 

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Chinese American History

Because of all the recent stories — and tension with Beijing — it is worth a visit to the Chinese American museum in Washington, D.C., to speak with David Uy, the executive director.

"People often ask, what does a Chinese American look like — I am one of them — I am half Chinese, and I am half Italian," Uy said.

What's important during this time is that all Americans know that just because politics with Beijing is tense, it doesn't give anyone an excuse to be rude — or hateful — to their neighbors, he urged.

"You may have issues with a country but those people in the U.S. are as American as you," Uy said.

"We don't want spy balloons drifting over the country," Uy added.

Unfortunately hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise.

Newly updated data from the FBI shows that in 2021 there were over 700 anti-Asian incidents nationwide. Uy's museum has felt it firsthand.

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"We've had a rock thrown through our window, and we have had hate speech left at one of our exhibits," he said. 

Part of Uy's goal is to educate Americans more on Chinese-American history in the U.S. For instance, the transcontinental railroad was largely built by Chinese laborers.

"Ten miles of rail track was laid in a single day," Uy said. One fear he has is a return to the past. 

From the 1880s to the 1960s, the United States Congress significantly restricted, and for many years, banned, Chinese citizens from migrating to the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Act remains one of the most restrictive immigration laws ever passed by Congress. 

"They were not always the most welcomed of immigrants," Uy said. 

All of this is worth remembering as the political rivalry between the United States and China intensifies. Any political expert will tell you it's a rivalry that won't go away soon.