John Liu Garners Chinese Support Across NYC

When he left office at the end of last year after a failed mayoral campaign, former City Comptroller John Liu took on a teaching job at Baruch College, CUNY. But people familiar with him knew he would soon come back to the political arena. After all, he was the only former elected official who kept sending his “public schedule” to the media and supporters.

The betting proved true when Liu accepted the Queens Democratic Party’s nomination to run for state senator against the incumbent Tony Avella. The 11th district, stretching from Flushing to Bayside in Queens, is considerably smaller than the citywide territory Liu was eying in his previous two campaigns. Nevertheless, it seems he still enjoys the loyal support from Chinese voters in the entire city. In the recent weeks, the Chinese communities in Manhattan and Brooklyn have held at least two fundraisers for him. Supporters said Liu may be running in a local district, but he is still the political star of whom the Chinese community is proud.


(Photo by Yi Yi Huang via World Journal)

(Photo by Yi Yi Huang via World Journal)

A story in the World Journal on July 10 documented the fundraising in Brooklyn (Headline: “Supporting John Liu, Brooklyn Chinese Opened Wallets,” by Yi Yi Huang):

Although State Senate District 11, where John Liu is campaigning, doesn’t include the Chinese-dominated neighborhoods in Brooklyn, state Sen. Peter Abbate and Chinese community activist John Chan of Brooklyn still held a well-attended fundraising event for him in Brooklyn. Many people from the Chinese community referred to Liu as “the pride of the Chinese” at the event and encouraged him to go forward. Liu also commented on the news that Mayor Bill de Blasio decided to support the incumbent Tony Avella, and said the mayor’s position won’t have much effect on the election.

Liu didn’t stay long at the fundraising banquet. But he said he was honored to get the support from Chinese in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, although it is not in his district. And this shows the Chinese community is united and it is the responsibility for him to fight for people wherever they live. Liu said in the district he is running, Chinese voters make 30 percent of the whole constituency. And his strategy can be summarized by one word: “win.”

As for de Blasio’s announcement to support Avella, Liu said what the voters want is “a real and valid Democratic leader.” He has gained a lot of support from elected officials, community leaders, parents and district leaders through his backbreaking campaign day by day in the 11th District.

Abbate said Liu has his complete support. Although Liu is not running in Brooklyn, he deserves unconditional support from people here because of what he did for them in the past. He believes the State Senate needs more people to speak for the Chinese and Liu will be an excellent leader.


Fukien Benevolent Association of America (Photo via Sing Tao Daily)

Fukien Benevolent Association of America (Photo via Sing Tao Daily)

In a story on June 30, Sing Tao Daily focused on a fundraising event for Liu in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The story shows not only that the Chinese community is loyal to Liu but also that he has been trying to get closer to the community by improving his Chinese language, which was not fluent until recently. Here is an excerpt (Headline: “John Liu Showed off Fluent Chinese at the Fukien Benevolent Association,” by Rong Xiaoqing):

Former Comptroller John Liu came back to Chinatown on June 29 for a fundraising event held by the Fukien Benevolent Association of America. Compared to the time of his mayoral campaign, Liu looked much more relaxed, apparently very confident about the current campaign. His Chinese has also improved a lot. He gave a three-minute speech in Mandarin at the fundraiser. Despite some sentences structured in the English way, his close-to-perfect pronunciation, fluent delivery and clear expression of thoughts all impressed the audience.

When he ran for council member in 2001, Liu could only speak a few words in Taiwanese dialect. When he ran for comptroller, he could form some sentences in Chinese Mandarin and Spanish. When he ran for mayor last year, he attracted some media attention by being able to greet supporters from different ethnic communities in their own languages. At that time, he had already started to try speaking Mandarin at some Chinese community events. But the longest speech he ever gave in Mandarin only lasted one and a half minutes with some English words popping up here and there. This time, speaking without a transcript, he showed significant progress.

In the speech, he talked about his longtime friendship with the association and its leaders. He wrapped it up by saying: “I want to thank the association for its support. No matter what public office I ran before, I always visited the association. This time is no exception.”

Liu said he has never hired language tutors, but he pays a lot of attention to people around him who speak different languages. Other than Mandarin, he is able to speak in Spanish for at least five minutes.

Discussing the investigations of his campaign finances last year that basically killed his mayoral dream, Liu said: “There was nothing we could have done to avoid them. This time, we have been following the campaign finance rules strictly as always.”

Liu’s supporters at the Association showed great commitment to him yesterday. They donated $15,000 all together. Xueshun Chen, president of the Association said there are about 1 million people from Fukien (Fujian province in China) living in the U.S. and they live all around the country. So although Liu is not running for a citywide position, there are Fujianese voters living in his district. He hopes Liu can help them like he did before when he becomes an elected official again.

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