Chinese-Americans urged to cast ballot

Updated: 2012-11-02 07:25

By Tan Yingzi in Washington (China Daily)

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Election offers chance to 'build a better world'

With less than one week until Election Day in the United States, Chinese-Americans have been urged to cast ballots in the neck-and-neck presidential race.

Judy Chu, the first Chinese-American woman ever to be elected to the US Congress, plans to release a public letter on Thursday calling for fellow Chinese-Americans to value the hard-earned civic right and vote on Nov 6.

"The 2012 election offers us an opportunity to exercise our sacred right to vote. As the first Chinese-American woman to serve in the US Congress and as someone who has served in elected office for over 20 years, I know how important it is to vote. And as proud American citizen, I urge you to vote on Nov 6 and ensure that our voices are heard," she said in a letter obtained by China Daily on Wednesday.

Chu is a House representative for California, which boasts the largest Chinese-American population. In the past two years, she led efforts to make both chambers of the US Congress apologize for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

The act, signed into law in 1882 and repealed in 1943, barred Chinese immigrants from entering the US. Federal law prohibited all Chinese residents in the US from becoming naturalized citizens, which barred them from voting.

The congresswoman mentions the discriminative period of history in her letter and says that Chinese-Americans should not forget the past but stand up to make a change.

"Now our country is going through a tumultuous period of time, and what happens in this election will affect the future of our country and the future of the world," she said. "Asian-Americans are now the fastest-growing community in the US, and we are uniquely positioned to have a profound impact on the 2012 elections. But that only happens if you choose to vote. Now is our chance to honor our forbears who never had the voting privileges that we enjoy today. Now is our chance to shape our nation's future and build a better world for the next generation."

A recent Pew Research survey found that Asian-Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the US.

The country has nearly 18 million people of Asian origin, or 5.8 percent of its population, according to the federal census. Chinese is the largest Asian-American group with about 4 million people.

By 2050, this group is expected to make up 9.7 percent of the US population with more than 40 million people.

President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney are now locked in a very close match, according to the latest major national polls released on Wednesday. The Asian-American vote has become increasingly important in the race for the White House, especially in swing states such as Virginia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Florida.

"The Asian-American vote is particularly crucial in Virginia," Haipei Shue, president of National Council of Chinese Americans, told China Daily.

Asian-Americans make up about 7 percent of the Virginia's population, and most of them work in the federal government agencies and high-tech industries. "This demographic feature means that they are more likely to vote for President Obama," he said.

About half of Asian-Americans identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, while 28 percent identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, according to the Pew Research Center.