By Madison Tang
This past Sunday, July 11, 2021, CODEPINK, Pivot to Peace, Veterans for Peace East Bay, RootsAction.org, World Beyond War, and local Chinese American activists rallied at the residence of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood. The coalition delivered CODEPINK's letter demanding that she block a vote on Gregory Meeks’ H.R. 3524, also known as the EAGLE Act, unless its military funding for the Asia-Pacific region and antagonistic rhetoric toward China are removed. Rousing speeches from CODEPINK cofounder Jodie Evans, Pivot to Peace cofounder Judge Julie Tang, and Veterans for Peace San Francisco Vice President and cofounder of Pivot to Peace Michael Wong emphasized that China Is Not Our Enemy and that the U.S.'s hybrid war on China will have catastrophic consequences for billions of people and the planet, all while weapons manufacturers continue to reap the profits.
CODEPINK Bay Area activist Cynthia Papermaster, Michael Wong, Judge Julie Tang, and Jodie Evans in front of Pelosi's house.
As part of the larger Bay Area Day of Action on Sunday, more than three dozen antiwar demonstrators marched to Pelosi's house following the Golden Gate Bridge Walk in support of whistleblowers Daniel Hale and Julian Assange. In a beautiful, collective showing of solidarity, CODEPINK Bay Area activists, CODEPINK's China Is Not Our Enemy campaign, coalition members, and local Chinese American activists all came together to make their demands of Pelosi heard, with a passionate emphasis on Pelosi's silence on these intersecting issues of U.S. imperialism, militarism, racial justice, and freedom of speech and press. To read more about the Bridge Walk and Whistleblower action, see CODEPINK Bay Area activist Toby Blome's recap here.
H.R. 3524 would not only commit over $200 million to the U.S.’s military buildup in the Asia-Pacific region, it would also disrupt established U.S. foreign policy norms such as the One-China Policy. Furthermore, the bill's rhetoric demonizes China, and this scapegoating emboldens racist agitators and further endangers Asian and Asian American people.
This bill is just one example of broad packages of legislation targeting China that Congress has been rapidly advancing by using the grossly inflated threat of China as a bipartisan justification for more exorbitant military spending and nuclear weapons investments.
CODEPINK cofounder Jodie Evans emphasized how we so easily forget in the U.S. how costly, deadly, destructive, and self-defeating U.S. wars have been across the world, but especially across Asia. She spoke of the devastating consequences of the U.S.'s intervention in Korea, including the State Department's separation of Korean families across the DMZ line for 70 years now and 80% of the country enduring casualties. "If you care about the climate," Evans said, "the only thing there can be is cooperation with China. If you care about human rights, and you’re using them to drive war, you do not care about human rights.”
Activists shouted in unanimous agreement as Evans made the stakes clear: "A militarism war train out of the station running with nothing stopping it, and we need to be throwing ourselves at the train in any way possible to slow it down and bring it to a halt."
Photo by: Alvin Ja, local San Francisco Chinese American activist
Judge Julie Tang spoke about the rising community resistance to U.S. aggression towards China among Chinese American residents of San Francisco’s Chinatown community. "There is no question Trump is responsible for a lot of the anti-Asian hate with his anti-China rhetoric during the pandemic. But we have not seen any relief even after Biden took office. We don’t need H.R. 3524. We need Nancy to pay attention to her constituents' concerns. Asians make up 40% of her constituency. And we want to see better relations between the U.S. and China."
Tang offered powerful examples of how the U.S. could learn from China's advances, including its elimination of absolute poverty. She referenced China's construction of high-speed railways, through which Chinese citizens can travel anywhere within the nation's 3.7 million squared miles within four hours, and Pelosi's promised rail project that never came to fruition: "Most Chinese Americans in San Francisco wish that Pelosi would put a break in this high speed train, the only one in the U.S., that is taking us down a war path with China. This war we are engaging with China is totally unnecessary, self-destructive and harmful to the human race. Economic competition doesn’t have be a zero sum game. We can establish a position of strength and build up America without finding enemies. We don’t need to provoke, instigate and end up in a war with China to prove we are Number 1."
Michael Wong, cofounder of Pivot to Peace and Vice President of Veterans for Peace SF, also spoke. "Every time the United States has gone to war, or racked up a war, or threatened a war against any country," Wong stated, "it has always resulted not in just the devastation of that country, but of the ethnic group associated with that country here in the United States." And yet, as Wong noted, "Hillary Clinton famously said, ‘I don’t want my grandchildren to grow up in a world dominated by the Chinese,'" and this attitude, he went on to explain, typifies the beliefs and motivations behind every member of the 1 percent in the U.S.
In contrast to the U.S., Wong provided compelling context for China's 5,000 year history, in which it has chosen to not be a colonizing force intent on military conquest of the world, but instead a cooperative, peaceful power that respects the sovereignty of other nations.
CODEPINK delivers two petitions to Pelosi's door demanding she support the freedom of whistleblowers and block a vote on H.R. 3524.
The CODEPINK China Is Not Our Enemy campaign continues to disrupt and challenge this escalation of the U.S.’s hybrid war on China, while educating the public about the possibilities for cooperation on climate change mitigation and nuclear disarmament when it comes to U.S.-China relations. Follow us and view the related media and actions below for more!
Media, Resources, & More Ways to Take Action:
- You can read the full letter to Pelosi here.
- Check out more photos from this action on CODEPINK's Flickr
- Backlash against anti-China moves grows by Lia Zhu, China Daily, July 14, 2021
- Chinese Community urges Pelosi to block the vote of hostile China bill in US China Press, July 12, 2021
- Tell PBS to stop censoring its audience and release the film "Voices from the Frontline: China’s War on Poverty," which reveals how China took 100 million citizens out of poverty.
- Follow the China Is Not Our Enemy campaign on twitter here!
Madison Tang is the coordinator of the China Is Not Our Enemy campaign at CODEPINK, a women-led grassroots organization dedicated to ending U.S. wars and militarism.