April 25, 2001

American Attitudes towards Chinese Americans and Asian Americans
25% Americans Reflect Strong Negative Attitudes and Stereotypes Americans Uncomfortable with Asian American as US President or in inter-marriage

The Committee of 100 today announced the results of the first of its kind survey on American attitudes towards Chinese Americans and Asian Americans. The study was conducted by Yankelovich Partners in collaboration and consultation with The Marttila Communications Group and the Anti-Defamation League.

Founded in 1989, the Committee of 100 is an organization of prominent Chinese Americans with a two-fold mission: encouraging the full participation of Chinese Americans in U.S. society, and improving relations between the U.S. and China.

Findings included:

  • A significant minority, 25%, of Americans indicated strong negative attitudes and stereotypes towards Chinese Americans.
  • 23% of Americans are uncomfortable voting for an Asian American to be President of the United States. This is in contrast to 15% compared with an African American candidate, 14% compared with a woman candidate and 11% compared with a Jewish candidate.
  • 24% of Americans would not approve of inter-marriage with an Asian American. This number is lower than that compared to an African American (34%), but higher than a Hispanic (21%) and a Jew (16%).
  • 7% of Americans would not want to work for an Asian American CEO. This is in contrast to 4% for an African American, 3% for a woman and 4% for a Jew.

"We found these findings startling," said Henry Tang, Chairman of the Committee of 100. "Asian Americans are not the ‘model minority’ with no issues. The study shows that they face negative stereotyping among a significant proportion of this country and indicates a major bias that works against equal opportunity and rights for Asian Americans, and ultimately, a stronger, more harmonious America for all."

The study was primarily designed to look at attitudes towards Chinese Americans. However, a pilot analysis indicated that most non-Asian Americans do not differentiate between Chinese Americans and Asian Americans generally, and stereotypes towards Chinese Americans and Asian Americans are nearly identical.

At the same time, the study found the following positive attitudes towards Chinese Americans:

  • Strong family values - 91
  • Honesty as businesspeople - 77%
  • High value on education - 67%

Of note is the fact that two of these positive stereotypes - family values and high value on education -are widely held even among those that have the most negative attitudes towards Chinese Americans.

The study found that negative attitudes toward the country of China are reflected in the attitudes of many Americans who were surveyed. They felt that Chinese Americans:

  • Are more loyal to China than the US - 32%
  • Always like to be at the head of things - 32%
  • Have too much influence in US high technology - 34%
  • Passing secret information to the Chinese government is a problem - 46%

"This study is very important to the on-going work of the Committee of 100. We call on Asian American organizations and groups such as the ADL, which has a tradition of promoting education and other programs to counter prejudice and discrimination, to collaborate in developing an action plan to deal with the situation," said Henry Tang. "Our annual Committee of 100 conference, which starts tomorrow, will have several panels devoted to discussing the implications of the study and formulating programs to promote better understanding and the rights of Asian Americans."

"The results of this first comprehensive survey of American attitudes towards Asian Americans is disturbing," said Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. "It tells us that prejudice continues to be a part of the American landscape. At the same time, it provides us with a benchmark from which we can proceed."

Mr. Foxman added, "As Jews, we know all too well the pain of prejudice and discrimination. Our experience has taught us that we must fight together against the bigots, because hatred against one group hurts us all and diminishes our unique democracy. The Anti-Defamation League is proud to stand with the Committee of 100 in working towards a bias free America and join with the Chinese-American community in that effort."