Frank Wu: Know Your Rights — Issues Facing Chinese Scientists and Researchers
Articles,  Blog

Frank Wu: Know Your Rights — Issues Facing Chinese Scientists and Researchers


– Hello everybody, welcome
to our workshop today, which now I’m looking
for, Know Your Rights Issues Facing Chinese
Scientists and Researchers. I’m Randy Katz, the Vice
Chancellor for Research. I’m also a professor of computer science and this is really a
jointly sponsored event between my office and Oscar Dubon’s office on Equality and Inclusion for the campus. But really, the impetus behind this is Dean King Liu who
really reached out to Frank to organize this. The way that I’ve gotten involved in it is from the perspective of
federal support for research the amount of sort of compliance and investigation
requirements that have been increasing because of the
geopolitical conversation that’s going on between Washington D.C. and parts of the world,
sensitive countries, particularly China, has
just amplified dramatically over the last two years. If you read the New
York Times this morning you probably saw an article
that three Chinese American researchers at the MD
Anderson Cancer Center in Texas were let go from
that because of inadequate compliance with that
institutions requirements for sort of disclosing sources of funding and their involvement with
institutions in China. The director of the
National Institute of Health Doctor Francis Collins
was quoted as saying that he expects that some of number of people who are professors today
will not be professors a year from now. So, this is a very serious
situation with respect to increased oversight,
investigation, and so on. We have to remember
that there is a balance between our open
collaborative environment, we believe in international
collaborations. It’s a very important part of the DNA of any academic institution. But, we also have to be
aware of the compliance issues from the federal government that we have to follow as well. So, I’m really happy that
we have this opportunity to have Frank Wu who is a former Dean of the Hastings School of Law to inform us on what the rights as
individuals, as faculty members, as members of the Chinese
American community, what our rights actually
are with respect to these federal requirements
and legal investigations. And, I want to remind
people that this session is being recorded so when we
move into the Q and A session it’s very important for the
people who could not attend but want to hear about the
good advice and discussion that’s going on over the
next hour they wanna be able to hear your questions so
we’ll be having a couple of people pass around
the room with microphones and please speak your
questions into the microphone so it’s recorded as part
of the visual record of this meeting. And, with that I’d like to
turn the floor over to Frank in order to get this session going. Thank you, Frank. – Thank you so much, thank you. (crowd applauds) (sighs) Good afternoon friends,
I’m gonna start with a little bit of a parlor
trick, a little illusion. (speaking foreign language) Now, some of you are Mandarin
speakers in this audience and you know that my Mandarin has really a quite imperfect accent. For those of you who
aren’t Mandarin speakers I just introduced myself as an American, born in America, someone who
grew up in the United States. I’m from Detroit, the Motor
City, that’s my hometown. That’s really actually
all I can say in Mandarin. That’s the trick. You see, if I only say those
few words you might leave thinking, “Wow, that guy
is fluent, maybe he’s a spy “or a foreign agent. “He’s a perpetual
foreigner, not a member of “body politic, not an
American, not someone “who belong here.” And indeed, doing something
like that speaking in a different language loudly in a group that’s the sort of thing
that will attract attention even on a campus such
as this, even someplace as tolerant, as open, as diverse as the San Francisco Bay Area. And, that’s part of
what I’d like to ask you to reflect upon. Did I just do something
wrong by introducing myself in Mandarin? I have some business
cards that are bilingual. Is that suspicious or is that polite? Is that a good practice, is
it a political statement? If you look at my cards and study whether they’re written in traditional
or simplified Chinese script does that indicate something to you? Is it a tip off? Is it something people should report? What I’d like to do today
and we’ll leave ample time for questions and answers is talk to you about this issue, this issue of suspicion. Now, on our campuses here and elsewhere I will touch upon the MD Anderson case and other cases. I want this to be concrete
detailed and offer you, those of you in this room
who might have concerns, concerns about your
careers whether you will be welcome, whether you will
face discrimination, bias, whether you will be able to advance. To offer you some practical
tips, a way of thinking about how to navigate through this. So, I’ll begin with a
little bit of history and then I’m going to make three points. I’m a law professor so we
always make three points. The first is I’m gonna talk
about the current situation, describe for you the lay of the land, what’s going on out there. Second, the risks, what
are the risks that you face if you’re a researcher
or at this institution if you’re a leader? What are the risks that
your colleagues face, those issues of guilt by association? Third and finally, I’ll turn
to what can we do individually what can we do within organizations? What can we do as a community? Let’s me start with a
little bit of a preface, a little bit of background. And, this is an issue,
sometimes, to tell you the truth people ask me, “Well, why
do you even care about this? “You are, after all,
an native born citizen “of the United States. “You are proudly from Detroit. “You really don’t have that much contact “with mainland China or for that matter “with any foreign nation
or foreign government.” And, I always explain that
I care about this because well my parents were people who came, “strangers from a different
shore” in the words of the late Cal Professor Ronald Takaki. And, because I recognize
that people don’t pause and ask are you carrying a US passport before they articulate these suspicions. Indeed, in many of these
cases it is United States citizens, predominantly naturalized, but US citizens not foreign nationals who have been caught up in the suspicion, in the targeting and
investigations and having their careers and names ruined. So, this is not just
about foreign nationals and there is a legal
distinction to be drawn here between those who are nationals
of another sovereignty, some of whom may be here
on various types of Visas, H1Bs and others, and
those who are citizens whether native born or naturalized. That is an important legal distinction. We can talk a bit about what that means for those of you who may
be on one side of the line or the other side of the line. But, the discrimination
doesn’t discriminate, what I mean is that line
between citizen on the one hand and alien on the other
hand may be less important than race, color of skin,
texture of hair, shape of eyes. So, the history that I just
want to briefly touch upon is that of the Chinese
Exclusion act of 1882 for which the US House
and Senate both apologized just a few years ago. The interment of Japanese Americans during World War II, 120,000
people were locked up with no criminal charges
brought against them, no due process at all,
including 2/3rd US citizens because they were deemed to
be potentially treacherous on the basis of blood. What I want to mention about these cases is the recurring theme
that Asians no matter how many generations you’ve been here, no matter how assimilated you are even if you’re a banana, yellow on the outside, white on the inside, that
nonetheless you are inscrutable, that people can’t tell
which side you’re on. There are now Californians whose families have been here six
generations of Asian descent. There are people who are
adoptees, including many among your students and
colleagues and friends, people of mixed racial
background, there are even Asians who’s ancestors
came over on the Mayflower. And, you may think that’s
preposterous, but that’s because they’re Anglo-Asian, because
of the intermarriage rates here in California
there are people who can claim that type of lineage
and they’re proud of it. Yet, the recurring experience
for Asian Americans is exemplified by that question
where are you really from? Which signals with just the
one word the addition of really and the selective nature of that question, there’s nothing wrong with asking people where they’re from. When we meet someone at a cocktail party a new colleague, well
just here when I got here I met a few people and you always ask, “Where are you from?” It’s a way to situate people
literally and figuratively to get a sense of if you
have anything in common. Can you play the name game. Is there someone who
you know and therefore you have some affinity. But, what’s interesting is
for Asians when you answer, as I do, Detroit because I
still root for the Tigers even against the Giants
in that World Series a few years back people
sometimes they don’t believe it. They shake their heads,
they say, “No, no, no, no “that’s not what I mean. “What I mean,” and I know
as soon as they explain and furrow their brows I
know what the next question will be they say, “What I mean is “where are you really from?” Which is a way to say you can’t actually be from the midwest after
all, just look at me, right. I’m a liar of some sort. My heart belongs elsewhere. It’s not possible to claim
that you’re a real American. And, there’s nothing wrong
with saying you’re from China. That’s what my parents would say. They were born in China, went to Taiwan and came to the United States
more than 50 years ago. It’s that self determination
though that some of us take for granted. I know because I’ve
asked people right back, white people, “And where
are you really from?” And, they get flustered and they say, “Well, I’m from Iowa, I’m an American.” And, that’s exactly the point. Some of us get to declare our identities knowing that we can say
who we are and others are subject always to
that recurring suspicion. Now, I know too, that in Asia
there’s a different conception of race and ethnicity. And, one of the interesting
phenomena for Asian Americans is when you go back to Asia
sometimes for the first time, to a place that you’ve never
seen until you were grown up which is true of me
traveling to mainland China and there too some people
look and they wonder if you are an American through and through because the conception is different. But, for now, I’m
talking about our ideals, our principles, the Civil
Rights that we have pledged to one another as part
of the social contract because here in the New
World we have this conception that everyone who subscribes
to the constitution, the Bill of Rights can be an American, can be an Equal, can
work at Cal, can prosper as a teacher, or a scholar,
or a scientist, or researcher. So, that’s the background,
the Exclusion Act which kept out not just
Chinese but eventually all Asians from an Asiatic
barred zone that wasn’t fully lifted until 1965. People don’t realize that
if it weren’t for this explicitly racial measure
that much of California would have been much more
Asian much sooner than today. And, that was the express
reason for keeping people out. The internment which is just a reminder, because people have talked seriously about what if there is war with China? There are best selling academic books written on this subject. And, they’ve wondered will
the Chinese be rounded up not just the Chinese foreign nationals as the Germans and Italians, some of them foreign nationals were rounded
up but also the citizens as en mass Japanese
Americans, but not others were during World War II. Will they be assumed because of blood to have loyalties elsewhere? Lieutenant General John
L. Dewitt Commander of the Western Defense said
famously, “A Jap’s a Jap “and that’s all there is to it.” So, that’s the preface. Let me now turn to the three points again. I’m gonna talk about one,
the current situation, two the risks, three the responses. Let me describe the current
situation by telling you about some cases. So, this modern version of the Red Scare starts with Wen Ho Lee, nobody
remembers that name today because this is pre-9/11 but
let me take you back 20 years. There was a physicist,
a naturalized citizen of the United States from
Taiwan, worked at the Los Alamos labs and worked there his entire career, ethnic Chinese named Wen Ho Lee, PhD. Like, many of the people
trained here or who work here. He was accused of having given away the nuclear crown jewels,
the plans for the latest warheads to a foreign government. Exactly who it wasn’t quite clear. He was prosecuted, held
in solitary confinement for the better part of the year. The New York Times
published alarmist headlines stating that national
security had been put at risk as never before. This was deemed the
greatest breach of American national security ever
until the case fell apart. Until the federal judge, a Republican who did something very
unusual, until the moment he apologized to Doctor
Lee from the bench. Judges never do that, but
he said that the government had misled him and he was
sorry that he had held Doctor Lee in solitary
confinement for an entire year, almost a year and he
was allowing Doctor Lee to plead guilty to one
count of mishandling data, of having negligently taken
some data on his laptop computer and taken it home with him. It’s not exactly clear what he was doing, probably, most people surmise
he was looking for a job. He was working on his resume
and that’s not the best thing to do when you take sensitive
classified information, but it isn’t the federal
offense that it had been described to be. New York Times ultimately
published an analysis of its own reporting
concluding that it had been inappropriate in
characterizing this case as it did. This case didn’t come
out in isolation though. At the same time the
Cox Report had come out characterizing China as a major threat, an emergent threat, this is
even before the assent of China that we’ve seen over the past generation. But, Doctor Lee’s career
was ruined, it was over, that was it. He was forced into retirement. And, what’s striking about the case is after everything collapsed
there was no further claim that he had done anything
wrong, nevermind that we’re presumed innocent
until proven guilty. Nobody has gone back to
saying that he gave away nuclear weapon secrets. This was just sloppiness
at best, or somebody who wanted to look for another job at worst. What’s interesting though
is at the same time there was another case,
we hardly ever see this where when you’re trying to show bias you have two cases side-by-side. At the same time the director
of the CIA, John Deutch, a white man approximately the
same age as Doctor Wen Ho Lee was accused of mishandling
data, the same crime that Doctor Lee was
forced to plead guilty to, Doctor Deutch plead guilty
to and was pardoned. So, his case same circumstances basically, led to a slap on the
wrist compared to having the book thrown at you as
they say in the vernacular. So, that’s where this starts,
but there’s a long lineage to this if you really want to study. Some of you in this room
are scholars, you may know that the father of the
Chinese nuclear weapon program was someone who was a Chinese immigrant who worked here in the
United States loyally on the Manhattan Project
helping to develop nuclear weapons for the United States before being wrongly
accused and forced to return to China where upon he developed
nuclear weapons for China. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy you see, the hounding out, the targeting of someone of Chinese descent could not
have been a worse mistake for the United States, totally
separate from Civil Rights, it ended up creating the very problem that the United States wished to prevent. So, this case does not stand on its own, there are now multiple cases
and this is something you talk and sometimes people are skeptical. They say, “Well, all
right you’ve got one case “but what’s the big deal,
prosecutors make mistakes.” Well, now we have Sherry
Chen and Doctor Xi, you may have seen them on 60 Minutes. They were on a program
called Collateral Damage. Sherry Chen, a mid level researcher for the National Weather Service
accused of being a spy, of giving away secrets
about the location of dams, dams to China when she took a trip there to visit her elderly ailing mother. Her mother was sick, she went and visited just as many of us would. Naturalized US citizen,
identified by co-workers, envious co-workers because she was an award winning civil servant. She helped predict floods
and save American lives. They identified her despite the fact that she was a naturalized US
citizen as a foreign national and said that she was giving
away sensitive information. Prosecuted, fired from her
job ultimately the government dropped all the charges. They walked away from the case. So, this is not someone who went to trial and had to win, the government
dropped all the charges nonetheless refused to
put her back in her job. She’s still fighting for her rights today. Doctor Xi, Chair of the Physics Department at Temple University, Xiaoxing Xi, an inventor, an entrepreneur,
accused of theft of trade secrets, same
thing, charges all dropped. It turned out that what
he was talking about the ideas, the alleged theft,
they were his own ideas there were no trade secrets. He was talking about
the devices that he held the patents on yet life ruined. He lost his position as department chair. He’s still a professor,
also continuing to fight for his good name. So, those two cases just occurred
within the past few years. In addition, Chunzai Wang,
this is an interesting case. It’s a very sobering case. He pled guilty but it’s
important to understand what his crime was. So, he’s a Climate Change researcher, naturalized US citizen, worked
for the federal government, that’s the United States
Federal Government looking at Climate Change. Three successive Summers
he accepted an offer to go to China to be a visiting
scholar at Ocean University. Now, that’s the sort of thing I imagine some of your faculty here do. I know I’ve been a visiting
professor elsewhere, including in China. And, he was paid the grand
sum of $700 US per year $2100 total but because he
worked at Ocean University which is a government
entity, as all universities in China are, and failed
yes he failed to report it. He did do something wrong,
it was a minor transgression for which one wonders if he were white, if he were any background
other than Asian, specifically Chinese would
this have happened to him? Prosecuted for federal
offenses, fired from his job and here too the federal
job presiding over the case apologized to him. You can look up the transcript she said as she was sentencing
him that she was sorry that he had to do this
because he was doing Climate Change research,
very important for the world. She sentenced him to one night in jail which he had already
served awaiting trial. That was about as strong
a signal as you could send that there was no really good reason to prosecute this person. Nonetheless, having lost
his job he returned to China to find employment because
that was the only place that he could reasonably go, but the judge knowing that he faced
these uncertain prospects in the United States said
to him when sentencing him, “Remember, you are a
United States citizen, “you are always free to visit your family, “to come here, to be
here in Miami, Florida “where this case took
place,” another recent case. MD Anderson, this case is breaking news. Researchers fired for noncompliance. And, at the root what’s going on here is I would suggest fear, suspicion. Now, I want to be clear, there are cases and I’ll touch upon this, in
which there has been espionage including industrial espionage, all right? I want to be absolutely
clear there are cases of individuals of Chinese
descent, individuals of Chinese descent just
as there are individuals of all sorts of backgrounds
who have committed transgressions and I
want to say on the record as clearly as possible
they should be prosecuted, they should be punished appropriately. I’m not defending the guilty,
what I’m suggesting though is that there is in our system
not guilt by association, an ethnic assumption that if one person of a particular background
does something wrong that everyone else of the same background, even if they’re from the same
country, the same province, even the same village
that they automatically should be assumed to
have a propensity to do the same wrong act. That’s the issue here. So, this also doesn’t
just happen in a vacuum, there is a background here. And here too, I want
to be fair and lay out all the facts. So, the Director of the
FBI, Christopher Wray, about a year ago made
some remarks testifying before the senate, and you
can look at this for yourself, he opined that China
presented what he called an all of society threat,
the whole of Chinese society was a threat to the
whole of the US Society and there had to be an
all of society response. And, he suggested that
every student and researcher of Chinese descent in the United States was potentially a spy. Now, he went on to explain that
the Chinese Government uses what he called non-traditional collectors. That actually is true, and
many governments do this, it’s an effort to build up a picture from the many different
small grains of sand. So, instead of having professional spies you talk to people who aren’t spies. They have a day job,
they may see themselves as innocent but you get a
little piece of information here, a little piece of information there. And, if you’re collecting
enough and if you have a vision of the long
day, if you’re diligent and earnest eventually you
have enough that you can piece together something that is secret that should have remained
secret because you’ve gathered these little bits. That’s the theory and that’s
what Wray talked about. Given an opportunity
multiple times to clarify his remarks and as they
say in D.C. to walk back the proposition that
all Chinese researchers, scientists, all Chinese
foreign students were spies he did not do that. He instead doubled down and suggested that he meant what he said
that there were suspicions that should be cast on all. Now, I said I want to be fair
and in the MD Anderson case and in some of these other
cases what is at issue is recruitment in talent programs. China’s not the only
nation with such programs, Israel, Ireland, many nations
have sought to recruit people with ethnic affinities back as investors, as entrepreneurs, and they’ve
offered them opportunities. They’ve offered them cash incentives. The Thousand Talents program
of China is one among many but China now is perceived
as a strategic enemy. You may know numerous
reports have come out ranging from government
reports to think tank reports that characterize the rise
of China as presenting a threat to the American way of life. And, posing the suggestion that on campuses in
particular that there are Communist Agents seated in the auditorium working to advance Chinese
goals on American soil in some type of surreptitious manner. So, all this fits into this background and these cases, I would suggest
to you, are not isolated. The MD Anderson case is the latest. It will not be the last. So, that’s the first part of
my talk, the current situation. So, there are real cases
of people being prosecuted and in some instances,
many wrongfully prosecuted meaning the charges are
false, ultimately dropped. These are individuals who
have done nothing wrong yet their lives are ruined,
their careers are wrecked. Their names are dirt. This violates American ideals,
nevermind what the norms are in Asia or in China. This is not how we have set up things here and the pledge that we
have made to each other including on this campus. I commend your chancellor
for her very strong statement about the anti-Asian,
specifically Anti-Asian bias that is now being felt. Second part of my talk,
what are the risks? So, what I would suggest
here is that we have three different types of cases. Okay, so I’m gonna
characterize this abstractly and then I’m going to talk
about the specific types of cases, all right. So, there are three types
of cases here, all right. A, there are cases where people
have done something wrong. And, there are people
who have plead guilty. There was a case involving
the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, for example. There are other cases in
which people have engaged in cyber warfare, computer hacking, industrial trade secret theft. There are systematic
efforts, I have no doubt that there are such cases,
no doubt because I’ve read and studied the
convictions in those cases. Okay, so yes A there’s a category of cases where people are guilty. B, there is the category
of cases like the ones of Wen Ho Lee, Sherry Chen, Doctor Xi, and others where people are not guilty. They’re innocent, there
has not been wrong doing but there’s been this targeting. So, we have a difficulty here figuring out which is A and which is B
because you need a process to assess this. That’s the whole point of
having the judicial system that we have, having
the governmental system with checks and balances. But C, there’s a set of
cases that are ambiguous. There are a set of cases where our norms are still developing. What I mean by that is
there is a set of cases where people have done what
they are alleged to have done but we don’t have a well
settled norm or it’s changing over time, of whether what
they’ve done is wrong or not. So, participating in Thousand
Talents programs, for example. There are activities which
10 years ago were not only not criminal they were
encouraged as part of the free flow of
information, collaboration, the way science works. We wanted people to welcome
foreign visitors to labs and so on and so forth. So, the C category is one that is fraught with peril and risk. A category where if you
had done this at some other point in time it would have been fine, but today it’s gonna be
looked at with suspicion and tomorrow it might be looked at with even greater suspicion
and where the conduct for some individuals
vis a vis some nations, it’s not problematic. So, if you’re of Irish
descent and the government of Ireland offers you an
incentive to participate in a talent program, you
participate in that program, you have contact with
the Irish government, you receive material benefits
everyone shrugs it off. It doesn’t seem nefarious and sinister. It’s not a threat to the
American way of life, right? So, this C category of
ambiguity this is the one that concerns me because
as the standards change people may not keep up and
that’s why it’s important that we have sessions like this so that you are aware that there is a possibility that conduct that you
believed and that once you were correct to believe
could be safely engaged in that the next day it
will no longer be proper and could subject you not just
to employment consequences but criminal prosection. So, what are the types of issues here? They include trade secret theft. Note, with trade secret theft it need not be for the benefit of the government. That is, it can be a commercial enterprise but trade secret theft that
is a criminal violation. There is violation of export control laws including as to items that
are listed as dual use. There are computer crimes. There are prosecutions for other offenses. So, there are an handful of cases in which people have been accused of espionage, massive investigation is undertaken, for example looking at every
file on a person’s computer. Ultimately, no prosecution for espionage but a prosecution for possession of child pornography, for example, or for some other offense
is launched based on what’s been discovered looking through someone’s computer files. There also is the Foreign
Agent Registration Act, FARA. Now, this doesn’t even
require any payment. It’s when you act at the
behest of a foreign government to advance its interests here. You’re supposed to register. Now, this was a law that
nobody paid any attention to until very recently. It’s at the center of the claims of Russia being involved in the 2016 race to the White House and so on. But, a violation of FARA is now being prosecuted and prosecuted vigorously especially as to China. So, the other aspect
of this is there’s now express targeting based
on a specific nation. The Attorney General, Jeff
Sessions, in one of his last acts December of last
year issued a statement about taking on crimes related to China in particular. So, it’s not just espionage cases, it’s all of these cases. And understand, too, it’s
not just actual prosecution it’s the chilling effect. That’s what lawyers use to
refer to the possibility that in addition to facing some problem, a real legal problem such
as criminal prosecution you will self-censor or cease to do things that are good things, beneficial
things that we want to do such as having a
conference where you invite foreign guests, or becoming
a visiting scholar over seas. People will withdraw, they’ll pull back and this will chill
First Amendment protected activity and so on
because people don’t want to get in trouble. They’re risk adverse. So, what do we do? This takes me into the third and final part of my talk, responses. So, let me suggest here
there are five things that we can do. A is ramp up compliance activity. This is a sophisticated
research university. You have entire departments
and professionals whose job is to do compliance. So, compliance is not easy
because the norms are changing. So, my first suggestion is
for anyone who runs a lab, runs a program, for the
deans, associate deans, and assistant deans which is
to invest greater resources in compliance and
understand that compliance is a dynamic area. Any one of you receiving federal grants is already doing this,
but if you’re the PI you’re not the person
who is actually doing it you’ve delegated it. So, my suggestion also
to the faculty members who are PIs is you might need to take this a little more seriously
because when you sign off on this if something goes
wrong and it could just be some graduate student
who’s doing something well intentioned and well
meaning but that violates in a technical way some
provision of the funding that will lead not just to loss of funds but the end of your career and potential criminal prosecution. People, I think, don’t
have enough paranoia about the risks posed. So, A compliance. B, I have a colleague
Brian Sun, he’s the lawyer who represented Wen Ho Lee. He has a wonderful phrase, he
does a version of this talk but his has PowerPoints. Mine is old school I
just stand up and talk, Brian Sun has a phrase though
I’m gonna borrow his phrase. His phrase is don’t do
stupid things, all right. And, there’s a whole range
of stupid things you can do and some of these stupid
things, I’ll be honest with you, some of these stupid things
they’re not bad things. They’re okay things to do and
this is a controversial area. There was somebody at Duke
recently who landed in quite a bit of trouble
suggesting to Chinese students not to be in groups speaking Mandarin, because that was perceived
as discriminatory. Now, there’s an issue
there about the intent, was this meant to be helpful,
was it said respectfully? I don’t know. I’m not judging that case. I’m just saying that
people should be aware that all it takes is one
person who is a little bit spiteful or who they
have nothing against you they’re just alarmed and
they hear you speaking in Chinese often and they
don’t know what you’re saying and you talk about your travel to China for innocent reasons, but
they try to piece together something and they infer a
motive which doesn’t exist and they make a few phone calls. And, the next thing you
know you’re being contacted by the FBI to come in
for a friendly visit. So, my point here with this
is understand the perception that other people have. So, sometimes I’ll be honest,
I’m tempted as someone of Chinese descent with no
prejudice with what I hope would be understood as
only a desire to be helpful to say to a group of Chinese people, “You know, this large
group of Chinese people “all speaking Chinese loudly
here on the Cal campus “is going to attract attention in a way “that you might not want attracted to you “even though you’re just talking about “totally normal things which I can tell “with my limited Mandarin. “Nonetheless, some other people might not “perceive it that way and
this could cause an issue.” C, organizing, organizing
ethnic affinity groups so that there are numerous
professional organizations for Asian and in some
instances in particular Chinese including both foreign
nationals and US citizens in particular fields, in engineering, in biochemistry, in medical research. And some of them are now
putting out statements. So, organizing for mutual
defense, to share stories, to pool resources so that you understand you’re not alone, that there
are common themes here. Because, sometimes when you encounter this you think to yourself,
well maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just being, don’t
be too politically correct. Can’t you just take a joke,
people will say to you. They just laugh it off,
what’s the big deal. They didn’t mean anything by that. Except, you talk to your
friends and you realize whoa, wait a minute that wasn’t
just an isolated incident. That same person has made
similar remarks 10 other times and they’ve made the
remarks to every Chinese graduate student in the department. Well, now that we know that
that’s new information. That’s different than if
it’s just one casual remark, it’s a joke that you can laugh off. So, organize to address these issues. D, participate in the mainstream. I do a separate talk sometimes
where I’ve been asked for advice from Asian
Americans about breaking through the glass
ceiling or bamboo ceiling they sometimes call it and it’s related. I talk about prejudice
and bias against people of Asian descent. But also, about some traits
that people engage in so with audiences where they
know this is friendly advice, I always ask people sometimes
I do this for tech firms I say to them, “Who do
you sit with at lunch?” And, they reply, “Oh, I
sit with all my friends “from undergrad at Ching Wa
and we have a whole table.” And I say, “All right, you’re
never gonna get promoted “to manager because you
just sit with a bunch “of other people who
you know from Ching Wa “and you speak in Mandarin
and you don’t associate “with anyone else and they
don’t get to know you. “And so, they are stereotyping you because “you’re conforming to a stereotype. “So, you’ve gotta get
into the mainstream.” My last point was affinity
groups, that’s good, mainstream is good too. So, this isn’t either or, it’s both and. It means participating
in all the mainstream professional organizations,
for me the American Bar Association, for example. I’m both very active in the
Asian American Bar Association and the very active in
the mainstream prestigious American Bar Association, why? Because it’s important to do both. And, if people just stick to
their labs and their research that’s not a good strategy. Here, I wanna digress for a moment and I’m speaking in
particular, you’ll know if I’m talking to you when I say this, there’s some people in this room smart, hardworking, have PhDs. In their particular field
they’re really at the top of their game or they know
they’re going to get there because you’re here at the Cal campus, you’re getting a PhD, that’s fantastic. But, there’s something that
happens when you’re really smart and good at doing something
such as engineering which is when there’s
legal risk or an issue that is outside your domain you think, “well, I’m smart I can take care of this,” without understanding no
it’s a whole different game that’s being played when it
comes to criminal prosecution. You can’t just kind of wing
it and talk you way out of it. Even if you have a PhD, even
if you’re a chaired professor if you don’t hire a lawyer
when the FBI calls you you’re just going to make
your own life miserable. That’s an avoidable mistake. There’s a related mistake,
I think, that for many hardworking Asians that they fall into which is to think I’ll
just do better at my job. I’ll just work even harder
and be even more successful, without realizing that that
success generates resentment. And, the failure to
participate more broadly just makes it appear that
you’re up to something, right? The more focused you are on
your work, it’s good, right, but it is not a good
strategy if you’re trying to address these bigger issues
which may be a distraction but have to be addressed. So, point E, my last
point as to what we can do it’s to address implicit bias. So, most people these days,
not everyone, but most people are too sophisticated just
to be outright bigots. There aren’t that many people, not at Cal, who walk around saying all
Chinese people are spies or saying ching chong Chinaman,
or calling you a chink or challenging you to karate
fights, that sort of thing. It still goes on, right, I
don’t wanna diminish that. There is still that sort of
overt in your face racism, but there’s a lot of it
that’s very different, right? It’s the assumption that
you had a tiger mother who beat you if you got an A minus. That you graduated from
high school at the age of 11 with perfect SAT scores. It’s this whole set of assumptions that you’re good with numbers,
bad with people, right? All these other parts of
the model minority myth that some of them are flattering
and almost compliments but they’re so dangerous. So, some of this is the implicit bias. We all have it, I have it too. It’s the images rattling
around in the back of our head that tell us
who’s friend and who is foe, of strangers we see on the
street who might be dangerous, when do we cross to the
other side of the street. It’s that sort of thing
that we need to address. So, let me recap and then we’ll do some questions and answers. I’ve talked first about specific cases because I want you know
what is happening out there. These are the cases,
Wen Ho Lee, Sherry Chen, Doctor Zi, Chunzai Wan, numerous cases. Most recently if you haven’t read about it read about the MD Anderson case. If you read about it
in the Washington Post that’s the story I’m
quoted in, but that’s okay you can read about it in
the New York Times as well. Second, I’ve talked
about the types of risks. It’s not just outright
criminal prosecution. It’s just investigation,
it’s naming and shaming, it’s multiple types of
cases not all of which involve directly working for a government. So, don’t think that this is just about if Beijing has called you
and given you instructions. Simply taking trade secrets
and trying to benefit materially yourself at a Chinese company is not just a civil violation it can rise to the level of criminal prosecution. Third, I’ve talked about
what we can do, again, A compliance, B don’t do stupid things, C organize affinity groups
and organize amongst yourselves, D be part of the mainstream and take part in that,
and E address implicit forms of bias. Let me close on this thought, the United States of
America, I am convinced, and I won’t hesitate to say
this, is the greatest nation on the face of the globe. It has stood as that
shining city upon a hill, in the words of John F.
Kennedy and President Regan. It has beckoned with
freedom and opportunity the world over. Our institutions of higher
education lead the way. One of the great signs
of our strength is if you look at the most talented people in China what is it they want to do? They want to come here to Cal
for graduate school, right? So, we have this tremendous
strength based on our openness. As we address what is a real challenge let us not forget our ideals,
what drew our ancestors here or us for so many of you
who came, who struggled, who put in the extra work
because you understood that coming here would give
you boundless opportunity that you could not find elsewhere. And, if we work together we will make good on these ideals of this diverse democracy. But, it requires that we
work together, all of us. So, thank you for having me. It’s truly been an honor to
visit here at Cal, thank you. (crowd applauds) We have time for a few questions. Please use a microphone
because we’re recording, okay, and this is a reminder
you are being recorded. And so, you have given your consent be careful what you say. – [Man] Sorry, sorry to interrupt. Thanks Frank for your speech. I just, one comment that
I personally have waited for 96 days to my Visa granted by the administration. And also, a lot of kids is like me. According to their
explanations by their embassy that was on average for the Visa granting would it take like waiting
three or four weeks. So for me, like three
months to get my Visa. So really frustrating for me. And also, a lot of
cases from my classmates from my friends. So, I do have a feeling that
they’re, this government, this administration is
gradually closing the door to especially for the
Chinese science community. So, our Chinese people we
have done this similar thing before in history in for last two or 300 years, our Ching
dynasty has closed the door for almost two or three centuries. And, you know what,
the tragedy happened to our Chinese people the
Western powers has forced our border to open by weapons. And, we lose their money,
we lose their land. So, I’m just curious if the administration continues to do some strict limitations on their Visa granting things let me hint at number of visiting scholars in universities here. So do you think their history will react in the future here in America? – That’s a great question. So, let me again offer
preface to my answer. Occasionally, I have the
opportunity to be part of US China convenings. I was part of the official
United States delegation when Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong came to the United States
a year and a half ago. I was on the American side of the table. Now, why do I say that? Because, part of my appeal is it’s bad for America and as an American I’m concerned that it’s exactly as you
point out bad for America to be less open, to be
closed because history shows that closing your
society, attempting to create an autarchy, that’s what North Korea is. It’s generally disastrous,
it does not lead to prosperity or enlightenment. It doesn’t generate anything good when you forcibly close down your borders. So, that’s my preface. My concern is as an American
for what’s good for America and what I would say is good for America is exemplified by
California, San Francisco. What is it that has
made the Bay area great? It’s welcoming migration. Or New York City, some of you in this room are old enough to remember
and know this history in the 1970s New York
was about to go bankrupt and Gerald Ford denied a federal bailout. The New York Post ran a headline President to New York City Drop Dead. Now, what does that have to do with this? Everything, because what
saved New York City? Immigrants, New York
City which historically has been a nation of newcomers
there are 100 languages you can hear spoken on
the sidewalks there, was revived by migration. And, people who study
this have done studies where they take two
cities that are similar, demographically similar,
look at one that has heavy migration and one with low migration and invariably the high migration cities out perform the low migration cities. So, New York City came roaring back. It’s a fantastic place to
be now as the Bay area is. These are places that
people want to travel to. So, I think you’re
absolutely right, openness is ultimately beneficial for America. So, even if you aren’t concerned about the Civil Rights of Chinese
researchers and scientists that’s fine, what I’m making
is a utilitarian argument. It’s just a pitch to
Americans, it’s in our national self-interest and when I
say our I mean American, I’m an American, that
we have this openness. That is our comparative
advantage and we should have confidence that the American way of life that this openness,
that if it’s to continue to thrive it has to
live up to those ideals. But, let me offer a thought, though. This was strictly a non-partisan talk, let me offer a thought because
I wanna be sympathetic. There is a reason, I think,
we’re facing this anxiety, we in the United States
are facing this anxiety. China has done something
that no other society on the face of the globe in
recorded human history has done. It has in the span of one
generation had sustained economic growth that
lifted hundreds of millions of people out of abject
poverty to a standard that’s no where near the
US standard on the whole. When we read about China we’re fooled. We read about Beijing and Shanghai. We don’t read about inner provinces. We don’t read about rural areas. We have the sense that
all these young, wealthy second generation wealthy in Shanghai are driving Maseratis around, right? And, we don’t really comprehend
that gross domestic product despite China being four
X the size of the US still lags behind and per
capita income is way behind. So that even if China were to catch up as it’s virtually certain to do very soon and surpass the US in GDP
that per capita income it’s going to be at least
another generation or two even assuming China deals
with all the internal issues that it faces. But, what’s happened is
this so America is anxious because if you look at American history since World War II America
vanquished the threat of the Soviet Union, the
fall of the Berlin Wall 1989 America emerged as the
sole global super power. But now, trying to
present a credible threat and people are worried
whether you’re talking about the South China Sea or whatever else. People are worried and this is why serious books are written. Graham Ellison’s book
about the Thucidity’s trap reintroducing the Greek
philosopher whose name most people couldn’t
pronounce until a year ago it’s a serious, thoughtful, sobering book. For those of you who don’t know the book Graham Ellison, Harvard
professor, he wrote the classic study of the
Cuban Missile Crisis. He’s erudite, someone who
a poli sci major reads wrote this book talking about
whether it is inevitable that there will be war between the United States and China. He studies multiple
cases in most, not all, in most cases globally
when you have a stable preexisting hegemonic
power and a rising power you have real military conflict. I’m not talking about a trade war. I’m not talking about a Cold War. I’m talking about a shooting
war where people die, right. So, there is this sense,
there is a real sense that even if America continues to do well that we no longer speak
of the starving children in China, right? And, when we think about
the young people coming here where your careers will
be successful maybe in Shenzhen as much as in San Francisco. So, that’s what’s animating this. I think you’re absolutely
right this sort of circle the wagons mentality. I think we’re out of
time, maybe time for one very quick question. – [Man] I can give you a quick one. – Okay, a quick one in
the back if we get a mic and then we’ll wrap up. I’m happy to linger and chit chat. – [Man] Thank you Professor
Wu for coming here to share your thoughts
and perspectives with us. I’m John Nyan, I’m an MCB also involved in the College of Engineering’s joint venture with Tsinghua University in Shenzhen. So, let me push back on
a few things you said for the sake of argument. What you’ve kind of touched
on but didn’t really address is the tension
that my family faced when my parents emigrated in the late 40s about this whole tension
between do we assimilate or how do we maintain our identity? So, with all do respect
rather than suggesting that people act more
American what can we do to educate our colleagues
and the country at large, maybe it’s a hopeless effort
to not look at us funny? I mean, this is an ongoing tension but we’re the victims. I mean, so what can we do to help educate the perpetrators of these biases. – I love your question, invite me back. We’re out of time I’ll do an entire talk but I do wanna say I agree
with you wholeheartedly. So, I don’t want you
to think I’m just some US born ABC who’s all about
being as white as I can be. I agree with what you have to say and every time I visit China
I realize my mother was right. I should have paid
attention in Chinese school. So, I’ll conclude on
that thought, thank you. – Well, let’s thank our speaker very much for his interesting
comments over the last hour. (crowd applauds) – Thank you, thank you.

One Comment

  • 我操死了那个跪在倭奴胯下吃屎喝尿和吸允精子的精日粪子-胡继光-和他的洋奴爷爷胡耀邦与贱畜全家!

    In the context of this video, here's to how "other people perceive things": Go fuck yourselves!

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