Chinese Americans in the US military: Will their loyalties be questioned in a Taiwan Strait conflict?

Given the current highlight on issues of racism in the US and patriotism in China, it seems that Chinese Americans serving in the US army are in a unique situation. Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao wonders: if a conflict breaks out between China and the US over Taiwan or the South China Sea, how would these military persons be viewed?
This handout photo courtesy of US Army taken 27 October 2020 shows soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division. (Bridgett Siter/US Army/AFP)
This handout photo courtesy of US Army taken 27 October 2020 shows soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division. (Bridgett Siter/US Army/AFP)

With the “narrative” in the US being dominated by the left, every social conflict is classified as racism.

Whereas in China, all talk relating to the US and China is dominated by “patriotism”, and whenever a “yellow” face is involved in a US-China conflict, the pressure of nationalism makes it easy for that person to be seen as a “traitor”.

But if the US and China go to war, how many Chinese would be in top positions in the US military, and if so, how would they be viewed?

If one were to really count them

Under the banner of equal rights, there were indeed no lack of Asian faces in the US army in the past, and a number held positions of authority.

Among them is retired Army Major General Lie-Ping Chang, commander of the 807th Medical Command; Army Major General William S. Chen, said to be born in Shanghai; and retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lance Chu, born in Hong Kong.

lee wong
At a meeting of the board of trustees in West Chester Township, Ohio, on 23 March 2021, board chairman Lee Wong spoke out against the recent wave of anti-Asian attacks in the US, where he unbuttoned his shirt to show the scars across his chest from his military service, asking: “Now, is this patriot enough?” (West Chester Township, Ohio/Handout via Reuters)

As for the women, they are even more impressive, such as retired Air Force Major General Carol A. Lee. Given that her surname is spelled Lee like Bruce Lee and not the hanyu pinyin Li, she is probably a born and bred American of several generations. (NB: According to the US military Air Force website, Lee was born in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from Cornell University in 1975.)

Then there is retired Army Major General Robert G.F. Lee. Note that his surname is also spelled Lee — this is notable as it pretty much indicates where the loyalties of this Chinese American lies.

In the US military courts, there is a former brigadier general from the US Army Reserve with the beautiful name of Coral Wong Pietsch; her family has probably already been there for generations, and she also looks like she has some non-Chinese blood in her. (NB: Coral Wong Pietsch was born in Waterloo, Iowa, to a Chinese immigrant father from Canton, China, who had come to the US to start a Chinese restaurant. Her mother was Czech American.)

There is also Major General Darryll D.M. Wong of the valiant National Guard. (NB: According to the US military National Guard website, Wong had “flown the C-141's during the final years of the Vietnam War, the closing of United States bases in Thailand, and the baby and refugee airlift as a member of the 53rd Military Airlift Squadron, Norton Air Force Base, and California.”)

collage
Prominent Asian Americans in the US military. From left: Rear Admiral Jonathan A. Yuen, Major General William S. Chen, Major General Carol A. Lee, Major General Darryll D.M. Wong. (US Navy website/history.redstone.army.mil/US Air Force website/US National Guard website)

And in the US Pacific Fleet that is always ready for deployment to the Taiwan Strait, including its aircraft carriers, there is Rear Admiral Jonathan A. Yuen, commander of the Naval Supply Systems Command. If fighting breaks out between mainland China and Taiwan, Admiral Yuen would be standing resolutely on the side of the US, fighting for the stability of the western Pacific.

...given the resentment that boisterous Chinese netizens have against H&M and Nike today, which is reminiscent of the Boxer movement, one can just imagine their reaction if they see the emotive images of Chinese Americans in military uniform with the prominent US flag as a backdrop in their portrait shots!

As for the highest-ranking Asian American in the US military, that would be John Liu Fugh, the first Chinese American to attain general officer status in the US Army.

Chinese American military officials may be next to be trolled

His father Philip Fugh (Fu Jingbo,  傅泾波) was secretary to John Leighton Stuart, US ambassador to China and founder of Yenching University. In 1949, amid the unrest in China, Philip Fugh went with Stuart to the US, along with 15-year-old John, who entered the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and enrolled in the army in 1961.

john fugh
John Liu Fugh, the first Chinese American to attain general officer status in the US Army. (Wikimedia)

John Fugh passed away in 2010 aged 75. In an interview, he admitted to being quite “conservative”, and that he was against homosexuality. By today’s left-wing standards in the US, his obvious right-wing tendencies would be downright fascist.

It seems that Chinese netizens have not yet discovered all these outstanding people in the US army. But if the Taiwan Strait were to descend into conflict or a couple of shots were to be fired in the South China Sea, given the resentment that boisterous Chinese netizens have against H&M and Nike today, which is reminiscent of the Boxer movement, one can just imagine their reaction if they see the emotive images of Chinese Americans in military uniform with the prominent US flag as a backdrop in their portrait shots! The future situation is indeed intriguing and very interesting.

This article was first published in Chinese on CUP media as “一道動人的風景”.

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