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Shelley Luther. Photo: TNS

US House candidate calls for China students to be banned from Texas universities

  • Shelley Luther, who previously ran for Texas Senate, is facing strong criticism over her views, which one US state representative said could incite racial violence
  • Luther says her comments are directed at China-born students because ‘CCP members should not have access to our schools’

A Texas business owner, whose recent tweet that “Chinese students should be banned from attending all Texas universities”, is facing strong criticism, including from a US state representative who says the statements are hateful and could incite violence.

“No more communists,” the tweet by Shelley Luther said.

Luther gained national attention in 2020 when she was arrested after refusing to close her salon in violation of Governor Greg Abbott’s Covid-19 orders designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“Texas taxpayers should not be subsidising the next generation of CCP leaders,” she wrote, referring to the Chinese Communist Party. “It’s common sense: CCP members should not have access to our schools.”

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Luther is running for House District 62, where she is challenging Republican incumbent Representative Reggie Smith in the March primary. She previously ran for Texas Senate.

Houston Democrat Gene Wu said her statements were “ignorant, hateful, and incite violence against not only Chinese Americans, but all Asian Americans”.

Hate crimes against people of Asian descent rose by more than 70 per cent in 2020, with the FBI reporting 279 hate crimes, according to NBC News.

“My parents came here as Chinese students,” Wu said in a statement released on Friday.

“My wife’s parents came here as Chinese students. Thousands upon thousands of proud Texans originally came here as Chinese students,” he said.

“Like my family, these Texans also chose to use their talents and acquired knowledge here instead of returning to their home countries. In my family alone, these former Chinese students have become nurses, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and physicists,” he said. “Unquestionably, ‘Chinese students’ have made Texas and this nation a better place through their hard work and perseverance.”

Wu added: “To casually conflate all Chinese students in America with actual registered members of the ruling party in the People’s Republic of China is not only ignorance of an extreme nature, it is also the type of rhetoric that drives anti-Asian hate crimes. Luther’s racist statement not only paints a target on the backs of Chinese nationals studying in America, but it labels and targets anyone who looks or sounds vaguely Asian as a potential enemy.”

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Luther said she had not seen Wu’s statement, but said her tweet was clarified to indicate that she was referring to “people that live outside the United States getting scholarships to go to Texas schools when they live Communist China”.

“I’m saying people from China right now, communist China, should not be getting free scholarships and money to attend Texas schools. Absolutely,” she said. “But it’s obviously not Chinese-Americans and not people that were born here.”

Asked why, Luther said: “Because they’re communists”.

Luther pushed back against the idea she was espousing racist views when.

“As far as anyone thinking that I’m racist, I’m a Spanish teacher of 13 years and in my salon when I opened it, I was the sole white person that worked in there out of 19,” she said. “So, me being called a racist is ridiculous … I do not agree with communist thinking, and I do not want our state to be run, or I do not want our state to be influenced by any communism.”