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December 3rd, 2008
02:40 PM ET

Why Chinese American activists oppose Bill Richardson

Barack Obama has picked Bill Richardson to be the secretary of commerce.

Barack Obama has picked Bill Richardson to be the secretary of commerce.

Ken McLaughlin
San Jose Mercury News

In a move bound to create political tension between Latinos and Asian-Americans, a group of Chinese-American activists in Silicon Valley has launched a nationwide grass-roots movement to fight President-elect Barack Obama's nomination today of Bill Richardson as commerce secretary.

The group is upset at the New Mexico governor for his handling of the nearly decade-old case of Taiwanese-American Wen Ho Lee, a former nuclear scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. U.S. officials once suspected Lee of giving nuclear secrets to China when Richardson was President Clinton's energy secretary.

The Chinese-Americans say they realize that challenging the nomination of Richardson, 61, the nation's most high-profile Hispanic politician, will ruffle the Latino community, many of whose leaders felt he should have been named secretary of state instead of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

But the Chinese-American group insists that Richardson's refusal to acknowledge making serious errors in the case makes it a moral imperative to oppose his nomination to Obama's Cabinet. They say their criticism of Richardson has nothing to do with him being Latino but everything to do with his lack of judgment in the case.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Bill Richardson • Ken McLaughlin • Raw Politics
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Larry L.

    The Democrats are on the defense as usual,going into total denial on subjects they have never even heard of,the facts mean nothing because you know nothing.The Chinese Americans know why they are angry,Richardson railroaded an innocent man.Normal citizens of the United States agree,that's wrong,and Richardson is doing exactly what you hate Bush for,not admitting mistakes.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:01 pm |
  2. Teresa, OH

    I thought Richardson was an odd pick for commerce secretary too. It seems like Obama is trying to find a job for anyone that was running for a high ranking office. Weird to me.

    On another note: I could go the rest of my life without hearing/ seeing anyone speak or type the word "devisive". Have we no other word?

    December 3, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  3. GF, Los Angeles

    I can't believe Wen Ho Lee was arrested and sent to solitary confinement for 9 months without any evidence of wrongdoing. I wonder if his confession (possibly forced) of illegal downloading was only to make the government look good since they never had evidence he sold secrets to China. What an embarassment to arrest an innocent man and to treat him the way they did. What Bill Richardson was wrong – makes me see him in a very different light.

    December 3, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  4. Carol

    I thought the People's Republic of China and Taiwan were bitter enemies. Why would a "Chinese"-American group be upset about an issue involving a person of Taiwanese ancestry? This story does not make sense to me. Where was this group when everyone was accusing the Chinese gymnastics team of lying about their athelete's ages, during the Olympics.

    When I heard the story of Wen Ho Lee, it never crossed my mind that "all Chinese-Americans are potential spies". Is this just another attempt to stir up controversy where there is none?

    December 3, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  5. Melissa, Los Angeles

    I'd like to know why these activists did not oppose Bill Richardson when he was running for President. Why not put that energy into making Japan acknowledge and apologize for the rapes and murders in Nanking, China pre-WW2?

    December 3, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  6. hugh ~ california

    This group of Chinese-American activists in Silicon Valley are injecting race into this argument, which is devisive and without merit.
    For Albert Wang to suggest that that "Bill Richardson did a lot to promote the notion that all Chinese-Americans are potential spies" is without any credibility.
    This is just another typical example of a minority group crying racist just because they feel a person in their racial group was being targeted because of their race. Wen Ho Lee wasn't being targeted because of his race, his race was just different that Bill Richardsons.

    December 3, 2008 at 3:35 pm |
  7. Joanne, Solvay, NY

    Another great example of human nature, you can't please all the people all the time.

    December 3, 2008 at 3:27 pm |