For Chinese-Americans, Beijing Olympics draw mixed emotions

A Valley marketing executive is also concerned here at home, as hate crimes against Asian-Americans climb.

PHOENIX — For many Chinese-Americans, the Beijing Winter Olympics can raise difficult questions: How should they feel about the country their parents or grandparents called home?

“I feel pride to be an American. I feel pride that we’re being represented well there,” said Kyle Eng, a Valley marketing executive whose father was born in China. 

But he adds: “The human rights aspects are something I really struggle with.”

The Chinese government has reportedly sent hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, a Muslim minority, to “re-education camps.” The United States has accused China of committing genocide against the population.

In response, President Joe Biden announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics.

“I’m turning a little bit of a blind eye to what they’re doing in China,” Eng said, “and really focusing on the athletes’ stories and their success.”

By any measure, Eng’s family is an American success story. 

“One generation ago, my mom was living behind a grocery store with eight other kids,” he said. The store was at the corner of 7th Avenue and Buckeye Road, in South Phoenix.

“They would go to go to the back stockroom and go to the highest box because they’d have the best light to do their homework.”

Eng, who is married and has three children, is a prominent advertising and marketing executive.

His cousin, Republican state Treasurer Kimberly Yee, was the first Asian-American elected to statewide office in Arizona.

“Without a couple of breaks here or there (and) my grandparents’ hard work to get to this country, we might still be there,” Eng said.

Eng doesn’t struggle only with what’s happening in China. He’s had to struggle here at home with a surge in hate crimes against Asian-Americans.  

Eng, a longtime Republican, blames the anti-China rhetoric of former GOP President Donald Trump.

“The previous administration felt that they had to bash China,” he said. “Unfortunately, I think that has led to a lot of negative feelings towards the Chinese and Chinese-Americans.”

With Trump out of office, Eng believes attitudes are changing. 

That’s one more thing he’s rooting for. “I think that’s terrific,” he said.

>> 12 News is your local source for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing  


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