BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The 2016 Maine Chinese Conference took place Saturday in Bangor.
The conference is dedicated to the promotion of the Chinese language, business and educational exchange between the U.S. and China.
This year’s presidential election is bringing the two countries closer together, while also making headlines across the world. Some at the conference said it’s portraying a negative picture of the U.S.
“A lot of people came up to me and they asked, you’re American? Really? But you can speak Chinese … you’re not fat!" 14-year-old Frank Daley-Young said. "And then, they started asking me a lot about, of course, politics, because we’re in the midst of this gruesome election."
When Daley-Young went to China over the summer, he was shocked by the welcome he received from locals.
“They asked me, 'Who do you support?' 'Why is Trump so crazy?' 'Why does everybody kill each other in America?' 'Why does everyone shoot each other?' 'Do you have a gun?' 'Have you ever been shot?' 'Has there ever been a school shooting at your school?' he said. "It was things like that that they saw in the media and they just thought that America was just those things."
Daley-Young believes Trump’s political campaign is skewing the image of the American people. He offered an example: “We don’t want China to continue to rip us off, I mean, they’re ripping us like no one’s ever ripped us before.”
“What he says is deplorable, and when foreigners hear it, they kind of get the assumption that a lot of Americans are like that,” Young said.
Being tough on China has been a pillar of Trump’s campaign, but Hillary Clinton has also attacked China on occasion.
“First of all, China is illegally dumping steel in the United States,” Clinton said during the third presidential debate.
Daley-Young said these two countries have more in common than one might think.
“Despite China being so far away — and I had never been — it didn’t really feel too different for me. I felt very at home there,” he said.
Bangor Chinese School president Jing Zhang had a similar, eye-opening experience when she first came to the U.S. 20 years ago.
“I said, 'no, this is so peaceful, such a safe place, and the people are so nice and so friendly.' Then I said, 'I need to tell the Chinese people who the real American people are,'” she said.
Zhang created a school that would help bridge the gap between two of the world’s largest superpowers.
For more information about the conference or how to get involved, click here.