Saturday, July 17
Words Matter: The Effect of U.S.-China Narratives on Asian Americans
General Advocacy
Saturday, July 17
11:30 am - 12:45 pm


  • Aryani Ong (Speaker) Co-Founder, Asian American Federal Employees for Non-Discrimination
  • Sandy Shan (Speaker) National Organizer, Justice is Global
  • Nancy Yao Maasbach (Moderator) President, Museum of Chinese in America
  • Mara Hvistendahl (Speaker) Investigative Reporter, The Intercept
  • Richard Buangan (Speaker) Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy and Regional and Security Policy, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs


Flooding the U.S. news in recent years has been an intense focus on the newly designated strategic competitor, the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Highlighted topics run the gamut: investigations of scientists and researchers; unprecedented numbers of proposed laws; and campaign ads competing to look tough on China. Charged to focus on domestic policy only, OCA has and continues to address the impact of certain government actions on Asian Americans – a civil rights concern. Included is calling out messaging by elected officials and public figures and news media that crosses the appropriate line on race and politics. But it’s proven to be challenging terrain. Asian American advocates run into the age-old problem of the perpetual foreigner stereotype. When they call for fair and equal treatment for Asian Americans like other Americans, their views are misinterpreted as playing for the other side. So how can Asian Americans navigate a conversation that skates the fictional line between foreign and domestic policy and distinguishes between governments and peoples, Asians and Asian Americans or systemic racism and bias? Speakers who have published, spoken or advocated on this matter will give critiques of public messaging and offer talking points guidance to audience members.

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