Chinese-American voters sense ranks rising

Updated: 2016-11-10 13:01

By WANG LINYAN in New York and JUNE CHANG in San Francisco(

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While many people woke up on Wednesday to the stunning fact that Republican Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the US, Daniel Lou, co-founder of the Chinese American Alliance for Trump in New York, wasn't surprised.

"I knew he would win a month ago," said Lou, a Trump supporter who has helped organize several Trump rallies in New York. Lou said before Election Day that he knew many people backing Trump.

Don Sun, president of the Silicon Valley chapter of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs, said: "Neither Clinton nor Trump lives up to my expectation of a president." Sun said he wrote "Bernie Sanders" on his ballot.

But what comforted him, said Sun, is that he saw a rising voter turnout among Asian Americans, especially Chinese Americans in Cupertino, California, where the population of Asian ancestry takes up 63 percent of the city's total.

"Many of them were first-time voters. They said this year's election was too important to miss," said Sun, also an election officer in Cupertino.

Some Chinese-American voters also tried to influence as many voters as possible.

Liu Min, a former engineer at an IT company in Silicon Valley, voted for Clinton. She gathered her Tsinghua alumni in San Francisco and beyond and people of similar values across the US by binding them into WeChat groups and shared phone bank tips and lobbying tactics.

"Try those small restaurants and grocery stores; those owners are inclined to vote for Clinton and you just leave them the voting guide packet," said Liu in one of her messages. "That usually will work."

For Tian Wang, founder of Chinese Americans for Trump, who has organized fundraisers and many rallies, the next step is a larger plan now that Trump is elected.

"We will continue to gather more people in all states with the current 8,000 registered (members) at CAFT," Wang said. "We will form a national voter bloc in which we will have state chapters in charge of state-level voter registration and voter bloc forming."

Cliff Li, adviser to the Asian Pacific American Advisory Committee for the Trump campaign and executive director of the National Committee of Asian American Republicans, said Trump successfully defined Clinton as part of the establishment even though she repeatedly said she would tax the richest 1 percent.

Almost 70 percent of working-class whites with less than a college degree supported Trump because he became their voice, Li said. He said they used to support Democratic Party.

"Blue-collar workers in Rust Belt states feel their job opportunities have been slighted. They feel they are not protected," Li explained.

Li said data show that 65 percent of Asian Americans voted for Clinton, compared with 73 percent four years ago. Conversely, 29 percent voted for Trump compared with 25 percent four years ago.

"I guess among the 65 percent of Asian American voters for Clinton, Chinese-American voters make 55-60 percent," Li said. "My personal observation is that Chinese-American voters are turning a bit to the right compared with four years ago."

Li said President-elect Trump has a lot on his plate, but he needs to "deliver his first 100-day contract".

Lia Zhu in San Francisco contributed to this story.