Popula: Andrew Yang is Taiwanese-American

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In ignoring the possible reasons why Yang code-switches between identifying himself as Taiwanese- and Chinese-American, many observers and analysts have neglected the persistent pressure on Taiwanese-Americans to soften our identities and avoid confrontation, both in Asian-American spaces and majority white-American ones. In some cases, our fellow Asian-Americans erase us from the conversation altogether. In a December episode of his show ‘Patriot Act’ on turning out the Asian-American vote, the comedian Hasan Minhaj poked fun at the way MSNBC failed to include Andrew Yang on relevant infographics and then promptly left ‘Taiwanese’ off his own list of ‘Asian-American ethnicities’ [clip above at about 10:20].

These dynamics help to explain why the most prominent members of the Taiwanese-American diaspora, such as Jeremy Lin and Constance Wu, aren’t vocal advocates for the country’s continued freedom. By the time a person with immigrant parents from Taiwan achieves fame, he or she is also liable to have formed alliances that might be endangered by openly championing Taiwanese independence and decolonization.

Thus the phenomenon that is Andrew Yang: a Taiwanese-American candidate who has so far not said much about Taiwan. A candidate whose parents returned to Taiwan but who, like his fellow Democratic contenders, has no discernible platform addressing the 1300 missiles the PRC has pointed towards the island. A candidate for a political party that, at the executive level, has long shirked the responsibility of forward-thinking policy about Taiwan, ensuring that the island nation continues to be treated by stalwart Republican champions in largely Cold War terms, as an anti-Communist, open-market alternative to China.

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Andrew Yang is Taiwanese-American

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