Shifting Balance

Rise of Asian immigration may influence US foreign policy, experts say

• June 19, 2012 6:37 pm


Asian Pacific immigrants have outnumbered Hispanic immigrants in recent years according to a report released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, a population swing that could have a large impact on international relations according to panelists discussing the survey.

"I think the notion of having Asian Americans … connected with China, serving as a bridge between the two countries is very important," said Benjamin Wu, the vice chair of the U.S.-Asia Institute.

The report notes that before 1965, Asian Americans represented as low as 1% of the population. That figure has since jumped to 6%.

Wu remarked that the cultural bridge helps resolve international and domestic differences.

"The [Deputy Chief of Mission] over in Beijing, Bob Wang, is also a Chinese American," along with Ambassador Gary F. Locke, said Wu. "So the power of having in China—which, one of their most important bilateral relationships is the United States—to have two Chinese-Americans representing the United States is very powerful."

Pew’s report, "The Rise of Asian Americans," is the first of seven to be released based on a telephone survey conducted from January 3-March 27, 2012 across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Researchers assessed responses from six predominant Asian nationalities in the U.S. including Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese using English and seven Asian languages.

Topics highlighted in the survey and Pew’s Tuesday panel discussion on the release included trends in education, life goals and priorities, and the hands-on "Tiger Mom" philosophy of parenting popularized by Amy Chua. 49% of U.S. Asians have a bachelor’s degree or more, higher than the average of 28% in the general U.S. population. The report revealed the median income for Asian Americans to be $66,000, also higher than the $49,8000 median for the overall U.S. population. The top prerogatives ranked by U.S. Asians in the survey were parenting, marriage, and a high-paying career.

Lisa Hasegawa, executive director of National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, said the survey’s data is "perpetuating a myth of a model minority. … It just continues to reinforce that stereotype."

Hasegawa, an attendee of Pew’s research presentation, noted that only 6 of the 30-plus Asian American nationalities were represented in the study, and that many key Asian American voices seated in the audience were not asked to join the two morning panels.

Wu acknowledged the growing diversity in the Asian American community, suggesting we keep an open mind about race. He also highlighted the advancements of Asian American integration in to the work force.

"People should not pigeonhole the Asian American community into one particular segment," said Wu. "Corporate board rooms are more populated with Asian Americans. Law firms are increasingly accepting more Asian Americans."

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