Not sure why later David Wang’s face was painted over when I wanted to forward this article to friends.
It’s no secret that Donald Trump is not particularly popular among minority groups — especially Asian Americans. In a 2016 survey conducted by AAAJ with 1,000 registered Asian Americans, only 19% viewed Trump favorably while 61% viewed him unfavorably.
However, there are a group of Chinese Americans who have been vocal about their support for Trump well before his victory.
An organization called “Chinese Americans For Trump” gained notoriety by paying for Trump billboards in over a dozen states and flying aerial banners in over 32 cities during the President’s campaign. They’ve been enormously successful rallying support, particularly on WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging app.
Their efforts have even caught the attention of the President himself. During his campaign, he’d bring members on stage during rallies and has even met up with them in person. Despite his past criticism of China for being a country of job stealers, liars, currency manipulators, copycats, hackers, and spies, the group has only grown immensely over time — with over 8,000 members and counting.
Leading this organization is a rather mysterious man named David Wang. There’s barely any information of him online and it appears he mostly stays out of the spotlight. Most of the information I found in my research were mainly quotes from other outlets on wider topics. In early October, Wang endorsed Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Bobby Lawrence in a video with Miss China while yelling “Trump! Trump! Trump!”
What I found on Wang is that he’s a 33-year-old businessman from Beijing and now based in Southern California — that’s all I knew. I had to track this guy down.
After posting on Trump-supporting Facebook groups, digging through Google, and asking people in my network if they knew him, I came up with nothing. Eventually, I reached out to Kathy Zhu, a 19-year-old Chinese-American who’s built a following for her support of Trump is involved in the Florida Chapter of Chinese Americans for Trump. She was kind enough to share with me Wang’s WeChat handle.
I cold-messaged him and to my surprise, he responded minutes later. The fact that he responded makes me extremely lucky — and you’ll know why later on. To my surprise, he was very open to being interviewed, but not without some ground rules.
His ground rules seemed fair to me. After all, despite how much I’m probably going to disagree with him, my goal isn’t to put him or his family in danger. He sent me a meeting time along with a meeting location, which was a restaurant known for their Chinese buns.
Wang showed up wearing flip-flops, a hat, baggy pants, and a jacket — he didn’t want to be photographed since he wasn’t “camera-ready,” which was understandable. We made some small-talk as we walked to the restaurant.
The restaurant actually turned out to be a stall inside a food court. Wang told me that this place served the best Chinese buns and Jia Jiang Mian in Southern California.
Those two dishes were exactly what Wang ordered for us. We also played the “Asian bill game” and fought over the bill, to which he won — my subconscious immediately told me to stay focused because he’s probably trying to butter me up.
When the meal came, I was surprised. Wang wasn’t lying — it was definitely the best Jia Jiang Mian I’ve ever had.
“Are you a real foodie? I got to take you to place to try the ‘Trump sandwich.’ This place only serves it when I order it. It will literally be the best thing you’ve put into your mouth. It deserves four Michelin Stars,” Wang told me as we started eating.
Despite media predictions that Donald Trump would lose the presidential race to Hillary Clinton, Wang was extremely confident he was going to win, so I decided to ask him how he knew.
“It was all math,” he replied.
“Can you give me any details on how you calculated that he’d win the election?” I asked.
“I can’t reveal how I did it exactly, but I used numbers to predict a Republican victory. I did that at the end of 2015 when Trump had very little support within the party. If you look at party turnover rates since WWII, you can easily predict which party will take office,” Wang told me.
After a quick meal, he suggested we go to a quieter place to do the interview. We ended up at a Boba shop down the street, sat down outside, and I began to get to know David Wang a little more.
Wang came to the United States in 1999 and has lived here since. He is a green-card holder who’s working towards citizenship. While he can’t legally vote yet, it hasn’t stopped his tireless efforts to influence others who can.
Around 2007, Wang started get more involved in politics, personally going out to protest for Chinese-American rights. In fact, he was a supporter of Obama when he won the Presidential election in 2008.
“I thought he was cool,” Wang said. “I was glad to witness the first Black guy become U.S. president because maybe an Asian American guy can become one someday.”
However, as time went on, Wang despised Obama and the Democratic party. Prior to Trump announcing his presidency, Wang was a huge Jeb Bush supporter:
“I really don’t care who’s going to be president, as long as a GOP candidate became president because I realized what Democrats are doing with Asian Americans — taking our money and then backstabbing us. There’s so many bills against Asian Americans legislated, passed, and voted by Asian-led lawmakers.”
One bill Wang is referring to is the SCA 5, a bill introduced by California State Senator Edward Hernandez to the California State Senate in 2012, which sought to eliminate CA Prop 209’s ban on the use of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in recruitment, admissions, and retention programs in public colleges and universities in California.
Some Asian Americans were against this bill because they interpreted it as a way for the system to weed out students with “Asian-sounding” name while giving preferential treatment to “other minorities” to meet a “diversity” quota.
“If you’re last name is Wang, you’re expected to study hard,” Wang said. “You’re expected to get a 4.3 GPA because that’s the average GPA of a Wang to get in UCLA, and that’s without the bill.
“With the bill, it’d be like 5.0, so it’ll be way harder to even get to UCLA than Harvard for an Asian kid, but not for an African American kid, so that’s not fair.”
Asian Americans have been divided when it comes to Affirmative Action. Critics of it simply feel that it gives other minorities a “leg up” while Asian Americans will need to work even harder in order to get into a top-tier university. However, those who are for it believe that that notion is relatively short-sited.
“Affirmative action benefits everyone, including Asian Americans,” Nicole Gon Ochi, an attorney for the civil rights group Asian Americans Advancing Justice, told the LA Times. “It especially helps traditionally disadvantaged Asian American students, like Southeast Asian university students and low-income Asian students.”
While a majority of Asian Americans support Affirmative Action, support for it is at it’s lowest among Chinese people. A 2016 poll sponsored by AAAJ found that 64% of Asian American voters supported “affirmative action programs designed to help blacks, women, and other minorities get better access to higher education.” While only 25% of Asians opposed it, support was lowest among Chinese, at 41%, according to the LA Times.
“Think about it. If you were, let’s say, a Black person, 3.5 GPA with number one in a sport with a state title, you’re going to get into UCLA. Berkeley even, back in ’06. Seriously,” Wang said.
Wang stressed that he’s not looking for schools to give preferential treatment for Asian students, but just for it to be “fair”. He believes that instead of race-based, it should be merit-based with respect to an individual’s socio-economic background. So if there were two candidates with the same achievement, but one spot available, the person who comes from a lower social-economic background should get it.
When Trump announced his run for the Presidency in 2015, Wang randomly added two friends on WeChat and started the “Duck Mouth Fan Club”. Once they reached 100 members at the end of the year, they changed it to CAFT, or “Chinese Americans for Trump”.
According to their web page, “CAFT is an informal group made up mainly of Chinese Americans from across the United States of America.” These include “successful businessmen and women, real estate developers, store owners, restaurateurs, doctors, lawyers, scientists and engineers; but there are also ordinary clerks, government workers, veterans and housewives.”
It also goes on criticizing Democrats on three main topics:
“The Democrats want to grant unconditional amnesty to all illegal immigrants that hopped a fence to get into the US, when our family members are still waiting for their turn to enter this great country lawfully, sometimes for more than 10 years. That is NOT the America we knew and loved.
“The Democrats want to pass laws that restrict college admissions based solely on skin color and ethnicity, so that our children have to get a 4.5 GPA to get into high-ranked state colleges while an illegal immigrant kid only needs a 2.5. That is NOT the America we knew and loved.
“The Democrats have made it NOT okay to call Islamic Extremism for what it is. Asian Americans died in San Bernardino and yet we are not even allowed to discuss the event for what it truly was. That is NOT the America we knew and loved.”
Wang has built such a large network that he gets — wait for it — over 500,000 messages a day on WeChat.
“I can show you. I need to delete my WeChat messages, the entire thing, every day. Right now I have, almost a quarter million messages, and you see the number will jump up like that.”
“Are these just messages from these different types of groups you’re in?” I asked.
“Look at that, look at that, 500, 527, it’ll just keep on going, 557, just got 30 more.”
“OK let’s step back here. If I initially messaged you on WeChat and you get over 500,000 text messages a day, how did you even see my message?” I asked.
“Just through pure dumb luck. You are so lucky — you messaged me at the right place and time, because you would be washed down most of the time.”
“And because you’re David Wang, do these people treat you like a god?” I joked.
“No, no. I never look at it that way. I think everybody’s equal, equally important. You are not more important than me, I am not more important than you. We are all equal human beings, nice friends. You can disagree with my views, cool, I actually like it so I can debate.”
Aside from his CAFT network, Wang is also a part of a multitude of other groups on WeChat, including Asian American Soldiers for America (AASA), a group Wang co-founded and has around 5,000 current members.
“They are Chinese Nationals who came to America to become soldiers, to die for America,” Wang said.
“At the same time they would get a fast Green Card and get citizenship within like, six months.
“At first, I thought they just wanted a fast Green Card, but after I talked to a lot of them I realized it’s their dream to become a soldier. They feel like joining the military will be part of their life experience to complete themselves. They wanted to get experience, and they love America. It’s unbelievable.”
I was astonished when looking through Wang’s WeChat. Most of the conversations were in Chinese, but it was mind-boggling seeing so many Chinese who support Donald Trump. But why would they support someone who’s criticized their homeland so harshly in the past?
“When was the last time a U.S. president candidate said anything good about China, ever? It’s political talk. You have to basically say things about other countries. What he said is kind of true. China is a currency manipulator, but not in an illegal way, you know?” Wang said.
“Trump is going to make America great again and I’ll tell you why: He’s a great person and he only cares about Americans. He’s willing to challenge every other nation and its citizens to make sure that our people are number one.”
Wang also argues that Trump is very supportive of Asian Americans. He claims he even stood up for Asian American rights 10 years ago when
Rosie O’Donnell mocked Asians on T.V. by saying “Ching Chong.”
“He’s definitely not a White supremacist. Tell me about how Rosie O’Donnell made fun of Asians at her show, and then Donald Trump stood up for Asians and said she should get fired for making racist remarks, and she’s a fat person.”
While a Google search did yield articles from 10 years ago of Trump insulting O’Donnell for her weight, the only reason I found why he did it was because she criticized him for not firing Miss USA Tara Conner for under-aged alcohol and drug use, allowing her to keep her title.
Like many supporters of Trump I’ve spoken with in the past, the age of “political correctness” is also what seems to be fueling the anger of David Wang and many other right-wing supporters.
“If you side with anybody middle or right, you immediately get punished for your freedom of speech. When Trump went to Asia, especially China, he made big deals. He made a Chinese company buy a lot of U.S. products. I’m talking I think $253 billion worth of products. That includes , I think, natural gas, and beef, and some chips and different stuff.
“You know how many jobs $253 billion would create? A lot. A lot of jobs, but nobody talks about that. Nobody. People only want to talk about, ‘Allegedly, somebody has found something about Trump talking to the Russians.’”
There’s no doubt that Wang has a substantial influence beyond his online community. He’s been able to draw large numbers of Chinese-Americans to protest on the streets for their causes. On February 2016, when the ex-cop Peter Liang was convicted for the death of Akai Gurly, Wang got 150,000 people in 47 cities to protest on the streets using ONLY WeChat.
“That national protest took 7 days to organize, and we spent $0 on advertising, it was all done on WeChat,” he said.
“Getting Chinese-Americans on the street to protest is very hard because they don’t know if it’s legal or not. I kept telling them, ‘Look, you can go on the streets, wave a banner, and you’re not going to go to jail for it.’”
During one particular Trump rally in Bolsa Chica State Park, Wang says he was attacked by antifa members.
“There’s a YouTube video titled ‘Battle of Bolsa Chica’. It’s recorded by the police helicopter. We didn’t know it was there, it was super high up, but you can actually see me in the brown jacket getting stabbed and punched and beat down, it’s crazy.”
Wang’s effort have certainly not been in vain from his perspective. Apart from the fast growth of his organization, the President himself has even taken a liking to the Beijing-native. During a meet and greet with CAFT, Trump went around the room to look for him.
“He kept asking, ‘Where’s David? Where’s David?” Wang said.
“What was he like?” I asked.
“Just stuff like, ‘I love you. You love me back,’ and he said, ‘David, I’ll be watching you.’”
Despite how unpopular Trump is currently in the media, Wang remains confident in the President.
“I’ve been telling people that you’re going to hear things like this about Trump for the next eight years. Do you get it? Next eight years. Know what that means? It means he’s going to win again. Because people are so fed up with this kind of stuff. If I supported a candidate who had less than 1% party support before he was even a candidate, and he won, I’m pretty confident.”