Thu, Apr 23, 2009 - Page 7 News List

US acceptance of Asian-Americans is growing: survey


More than two-thirds of Americans believe immigration from Asia is good for the US, but many feel Asian-Americans were more loyal to their home countries, a survey found.

The Committee of 100, a Chinese-American group, conducted a nationwide survey to look at changes since its major study in 2001 on attitudes toward Asian-Americans.

The latest survey found that more than two-thirds of the public believed immigration from Asia was good for the nation and that far more people than in 2001 were willing to accept an Asian-American marrying into the family or as an official representing them in government.

After electing US President Barack Obama as their first ­African-American leader, just 9 percent of Americans were uncomfortable with the idea of an Asian-American president, well down from 23 percent in 2001, the survey said.

But 45 percent of the general public believed Asian-Americans were more loyal to their nations of origin than the US — up from 37 percent at the beginning of the decade.

Frank Wu, a scholar who helped lead the study, said that those Americans with the most anxiety about China’s rapidly growing economy were also the most concerned about Asian-Americans.

“There is increasing acceptance of Asian-Americans as people who are equals with the right to take part in democracy and are no different from white or black Americans,” Wu said on Tuesday.

“But coupled to that, there is also a great sense among a significant part of the population that they are not quite ‘real’ Americans,” he said.

The survey, administered by Harris Interactive, interviewed 1,427 adults around the US in January.

Wu said that unlike some other groups, particularly ­African-Americans, stereotypes about Asian-Americans were largely positive — the image of a “model minority” who are hard-working.

“We’re lavished with praise on the one hand but if you scratch just a bit beneath the surface, then Asians are seen as not just hard-working but as unfair competition — that they are sort of taking over,” Wu said.

Around 5 percent of the US population claims ancestry from Asia. Much of the community traces longstanding roots; Chinese first immigrated to the continent in significant numbers during the California Gold Rush in the 1840s.

The survey found that fears of China rubbed off on all Asian-Americans regardless of their nation of ancestry with much of the US public not making a distinction.

“Go back 25 years to the peak of Japan-bashing when everyone was saying that Japan was going to become No. 1,” Wu said. “Asian-Americans have found throughout history that they cannot insulate themselves from whichever is Asia’s up-and-coming power.”

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