Wake County

Chinese-American group funds aerial Trump ad

A group of Chinese-Americans who support Republican Donald Trump for president had a Trump banner flown behind a plane on Saturday in Sanford.
A group of Chinese-Americans who support Republican Donald Trump for president had a Trump banner flown behind a plane on Saturday in Sanford. dranii@newsobserver.com

A group of local Chinese-Americans took their support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to new heights on Saturday.

The results were visible across much of the Triangle.

An ad hoc group of local Chinese-Americans who are linked via a messaging app called WeChat – developed by Chinese company Tencent – pooled their resources to hire a single-engine plane towing a banner that proclaimed: “NC Chinese Americans for Trump.”

The 180-horsepower Aviat Husky A-1B’s scheduled four-hour flight path started at the Raleigh Executive Airport in Sanford and included a flyby of Carter-Finley Stadium prior to the game between N.C. State and Boston College. Also on the schedule: downtown Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Morrisville, Garner, Holly Springs, Chapel Hill and Durham.

About a dozen Chinese-Americans gathered at the airport Saturday morning to watch the takeoff of the plane they hired from Aerial Messages of Daytona Beach, Florida.

“You know why we are doing this today?” Jack Lu, a spokesman for the group, asked his 7-year-old son as he knelt down to his level. “We’re doing this today for you and for the future of America.”

Not long afterward, the group – many of them waving miniature American flags and wearing T-shirts declaring their allegiance to Trump – posed for photos in front of the plane while chanting, “Make America great again! Make America great again!”

Among them was Peixing Sun, 50, a computer engineer who lives in Cary, and his 5 1/2-year-old son Junlong. Sun, who came to the U.S. from China in 1985, has been a citizen since 2008 but has never voted. But this year he plans to cast a ballot for Trump.

“In the last eight years, I feel the country has gone in the wrong direction,” Sun said, citing the nation’s $20 trillion debt as a major problem. “And Hillary Clinton is going to be even worse than Obama.”

Despite Trump’s promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Sun doesn’t view Trump as anti-immigrant.

“I don’t think he’s against immigration,” Sun said. “He supports legal immigration, I think.”

Tony Wang, 50, a software development manager who lives in Cary, also stressed that there’s a difference between legal and illegal immigration. Wang, who immigrated to the U.S. two decades ago, is now a citizen.

“Personally, I’m tired of political correctness,” said Wang, who voted for President Barack Obama four years ago. “Political correctness means no one can tell the truth ... I think Donald Trump is the only one who can tell the truth, who can make America great again.”

Lu, a 41-year-old software engineer who lives in Cary, said Chinese-American groups elsewhere have sponsored aerial banners promoting Trump’s candidacy – and that was the inspiration for Saturday’s flight.

Indeed, Aerial Messages pilot Matthew Reap said that he would be flying around Charlotte on Sunday at the behest of a Chinese-American group there.

It took only four days for the Triangle group to raise the more than $2,000 needed to pay for the aerial campaign ad, Lu said. About 30 people contributed to the cause.

David Ranii: 919-829-4877, @dranii