Donald Trump’s rise might be built on white, working-class Americans who feel they have been abandoned by the political establishment in DC and alienated by the growing liberalism on the coasts.
But they are not the only ones.
If they can have it their way, those belonging to the group “Chinese Americans for Trump” would also want to see the billionaire hotelier become the next leader of the free world. The organization has about 1,000 members, comprised mostly of immigrants from mainland China residing now in different parts of the U.S, from Nebraska to Pennsylvania to New York to, of course, California.
The group was founded just two days after Trump declared his presidential run in June by 32-year-old David Wang, a boyish-looking Beijing transplant who now lives in the city of Diamond Bar with his family. Wang caught a YouTube video of someone making fun of Trump, and that plunged him down a rabbit hole. He ended up spending the next five hours devouring clips of the man. The more Wang watched, the more he found himself liking the Donald – not just as a politician, but as a person.
His reasons aren’t all that different from Trump’s other supporters: The promise of jobs and prosperity embodied in the figure of a plain-speaking DC outsider who also happens to be crazy rich.
“Some of his message I don’t particularly support, but I like 99 percent of his message,” Wang says, such as Trump’s stance against undocumented immigration – including his threat to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.
Even Trump’s rebuke of China – for taking away U.S. jobs and for manipulating its currency, the yuan – has done little to dampen Wang’s enthusiasm. His cohorts feel the same way, like Lilly Wang (no relation to David), a mother and a small business owner in the San Gabriel Valley. She voted for President Obama in 2008, but became disillusioned by the Affordable Care Act and the White House's policy on LGBTQ rights.
“Obamacare is a concern of mine. For a lot of us in the middle class it’s way too expensive. We basically can’t afford it, particularly us small business owners,” Lilly Wang says.
That sense of disappointment with the Democratic Party permeates the group. If anything, it goes to show that the long-held assumption that Chinese Americans will always lean blue politically might no longer be a given, despite the fact that close to three out of four Asian American voters supported President Obama in 2012.
Mark Ma, an IT consultant who learned about “Chinese Americans for Trump” just days ago, says the difference might be generational.
“It’s probably because of education and socioeconomic status,” says Ma.
Many in the current wave of new Chinese immigrants are better off, Ma explains, saying that the issues that matter to them are dovetailing more with the values of the Republican Party – like taxes.
“The older generation mostly fled from war or unrest, they might be unskilled labor and stuff like that," says Ma.
The group has a big day on their calendar next week. They're scheduled to meet Trump himself next week when he is in town. It's certainly one thing organizer David Wang can cross off his bucket list. But his eyes, like Trump’s, are on the biggest prize. And then, Wang reasons, Trump will change his rhetoric on China.
"He’s just running for president right now. He’s not the president right now yet, but he will be. When he becomes president , he’ll change his views," Wang says. "Trump is a very smart man, and he will definitely find an equilibrium among foreign policy and economics with China."
But what if Trump doesn’t win? It’s not a reality Wang deigns to entertain, so certain is he that his candidate of choice will prevail.
No matter what, “I’ll still be a Republican going forward, for sure,” Wang says.