xi's moments
Home | Americas

Opposition voiced over anti-China bills in Texas legislature

By MAY ZHOU in Houston | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-03-25 07:33

Republican lawmakers in Texas continue to propose legislative bills in the name of national security to single out China, Russia, Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, a move observers say is "racist" and a violation of equal rights.

The latest is HB 2206, which would ban all social media platforms in the state developed or provided by companies or any entities from these four countries.

For China, this would mean that popular social media platforms such as WeChat and TikTok would be banned. The bill was proposed by state Representative Jared Patterson.

Testifying against HB 2206 in the Texas House chamber in Austin on Wednesday evening, a man identified as Chang from Dallas told the House Committee of State Affairs that "our community is overwhelmed by discriminative bills, each targeting in a particular way a certain right".

"The proposed ban is racist. It will disproportionally impact Chinese Americans in this country," Chang said. "It violates the equal rights law of the Constitution, freedom of association." He also said it violates freedom of religion because many people use WeChat to form bible study groups.

A woman identified as Ze showed the committee the screen of her mobile phone. "I thought I would show you what WeChat is really like. This is my mom, an image from our video chat," she said.

Ze told the committee that her mother returned to China after coming to the United States on a visa to take care of her when she was having children. Her mother wishes to see her grandchildren growing up, and video chats through WeChat help her to fulfill that yearning.

"Video chats with her every day is the joy of her life. She lives alone. If it weren't for WeChat, she would have suffered from depression. I miss her every day, and she misses us. This is a bridge for emotional connection for so many Chinese-speaking Americans," Ze said.

Ze also uses WeChat for school events. Information is exchanged instantly, and a volunteer would show up right away when needed.

She told the committee that many Chinese restaurants survived the COVID-19 pandemic by having their own network through WeChat. With 18,000 Chinese restaurants in Texas, WeChat has helped to add a few million dollars to state revenue.

A man, who identified himself as Guo, said he uses WeChat to communicate with many of his clients as an immigration lawyer. He has a public WeChat account with thousands of followers. If it were banned, he would lose a lot of business.

Moreover, WeChat is widely used to build communities in Texas, Guo said. "We use WeChat to organize people to oppose these discriminative bills, to organize people to testify against SB 147. It helped our community to have our voice heard," he told the committee.

During the hearing, in which about a dozen people testified, some committee members asked questions and appeared to learn for the first time that WeChat is the only available social media platform for many Chinese Americans to communicate with their non-English speaking families and friends in China.

Currently, Texas has 11 bills primarily targeting China, Russia, Iran and the DPRK for various restrictions ranging from real property purchases to college admissions, social media and government contracts. Some proposed bills focus on property seizure and would make it a criminal offense for violating them.

The slew of China-related bills has prompted many Chinese Americans to take action to defend their rights. State Representative Gene Wu is at the forefront against them.

He has set up a weekly Zoom meeting every Sunday to update people on the bills in Texas and similar bills in other states such as South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349