Over 20 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations on Thursday signed a letter urging President BidenJoe BidenGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Sanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE to take further action to combat anti-Asian hate ahead of a release of findings from an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
In the letter, the groups called on the president to "redouble your efforts to combat anti-AAPI hate and violence — to speak out and to act," noting that when the investigation into COVID-19 origins was initially requested in May, people across the nation saw it as "validation for the so-called 'lab leak theory'", and the release of the report could increase biased attitudes towards the Asian community.
"The sad but undeniable truth is that the simple existence of that report will put our communities at risk. We recognize your Administration's legitimate interest in identifying the source of this pandemic for the purpose of preventing future outbreaks," the letter stated. "At the same time, perception matters."
The co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, Russell Jeung, expressed his concern that no matter the results of the report, people could use it to fuel more anti-Asian bias.
"That's why we wanted to pre-empt these attacks. We wanted to put the nation on alert and call on the president to put more substance in his stopping anti-Asian racism," Jeung said.
The groups, including the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, South Asian Americans Leading Together and the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, also called for Biden to provide funding to local governments for initiatives that will expand civil rights protections for those communities and provide mental health resources in more languages.
The Trump-era China Initiative was also named by the groups as a policy that Biden should end in an effort to protect Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
The effort was initially created to counter Chinese espionage, but has been critiqued for instances in which Asian Americans and other people of Asian descent were falsely accused of crimes, according to NBC News.
Jeung argued that Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have historically faced discrimination without committing any wrongdoing, noting events such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
"These conspiracy theories just emerged baselessly, and people act on them," he said, according to NBC News.
"Those blanket generalizations about Chinese as a threat have been deadly for us. ... If there's a mal-intent or a negative critique of the policy," it's important that "it doesn't extend to a negative critique of the people," Jeung added. "Beyond specifying the actions of a specific organization or government, we want that to be balanced with statements saying, 'We cannot condone anti-Asian hate.'"