by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
His name is Donghui Zang, a rising [New York] community leader who was little-known in the Chinese community until a year ago. Zang, the father of two teenage boys, first came out on the streets to protest on June 5, 2018, two days after the mayor announced his plan to eliminate the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) to diversify the intake of the city’s top high schools, where a majority of students are Asian and very few are Black or Hispanic. …
… Zang has helped form New York Residents Alliance, a grassroots organization that is able to reach as many as 2,000 Chinese New Yorkers via WeChat, the social media platform popular among Chinese people around the world. Zang mobilized his followers to protest against various issues they deemed contrary to the interests of Chinese residents. … His organization has endorsed candidates in several elections, mostly Republicans or conservative Democrats.
Many of Zang’s followers are like him — having come to the U.S. from China in the past 30 years or so for postgraduate education. Like Zang, many have school-age children but no previous experience in activism. Many of them became new voters during the past year, including Zang, who was naturalized and registered as a voter in late August 2018. Many of them are not affiliated with any party. But their views, based on a firm belief in competition, individual accomplishment, and meritocracy, are distinctly conservative.
They are only part of the rising force of conservatism among new Chinese immigrants in the U.S., aroused by nationwide issues such as the racially conscious admissions policy of Ivy League colleges and the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Their emergence on the political horizon may herald a climate change in a community that has been considered a solid base for the Democrats for two decades.