United States presidential hopeful Donald Trump offended a whole swathe of American voters last month when he faked an Asian accent to mock how the Chinese and Japanese do business: "When these people walk into the room … they just say, 'We want deal!'"

So when his rival for the Republican nomination Jeb Bush sent his son to New York's Chinatown it seemed as though the former governor of Florida was offering an olive branch to the Chinese community.

At the Wyndham Garden Hotel, Jeb Bush Jnr told a dozen or so community leaders that, if elected, his father would expedite immigration law reform to prevent families of immigrants from being separated.

'We want deal!': Trump fakes Asian accent to mock Chinese and Japanese businessmen at US rally

Bush, 31, added that his father supports investment immigration and that the US must work with China to grow the American economy.

"My father has met President Xi Jinping twice in the past two years," said Bush. "He knows the politics and economy in China well."

His appearance was the first in Chinatown by a prominent 2016 presidential campaign.

Afterwards, the audience - mainly Chinese Republicans - seemed sold on another Bush administration.

Frankly, it’s more related to Asian people’: Jeb Bush says ‘anchor baby’ is not derogatory

"His [father's] beliefs are in the interests of the Chinese," said Charles Wong, a member of the New York delegation to the Republican National Convention.

Jeb Bush Snr, however, put his foot in it almost immediately.

When asked about maternity tourism, Bush - who is married to a Mexican - said "anchor babies" were, frankly, more of an Asian problem than a Hispanic one, sparking outrage.

There was, perhaps, some truth to his comments. In China, there is an industry of agents who arrange for parents-to-be to travel to "birth houses" in the US - essentially, hotels that facilitate hospital visits and birthing needs.

While there are no official statistics on the phenomenon, Gary Chodorow, an immigration lawyer based in China, told CNN that he had seen a boom in Chinese parents having "anchor babies" - those which are born in countries where their parents don't live, to obtain a foreign passport - in the US in recent years.

Bush's comments drew conflicting reactions from the Chinese community in America.

Long Deng, president of the US Chinese Chamber of Commerce and financial co-chair of the metropolitan New York Republican State Committee, said Bush had simply stated the truth.

"I don't think the words 'anchor babies' are a problem," said Deng. "It is true that many Chinese try to move out of China by delivering babies in other places. First they went to Hong Kong, and now it is the US. This is the reality."

Given the rising hostility among some Chinese-Americans to maternity tourists from their home country, the comment may not cost Bush too many votes - at least, in the primary.