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Young, Black and Republican: House conservative aims to win Black voters over with cognac and cigars

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Young, Black and Republican: House conservative aims to win Black voters over with cognac and cigars

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FIRST ON FOX — Republicans are ramping up efforts to reach out to Black voters as a critical November election approaches, with President Biden, a Democrat, appearing to lose support with minorities. 

Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, is spearheading an initiative to recruit Black voters, particularly Black men, into the party’s fold after former President Trump in 2020 showed surprising strength with that traditionally Democratic constituency. Hunt told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview that Trump’s popularity with Black men is a “phenomenon,” and shared his view that the GOP has an opportunity to win a new generation of voters — if they show up where they are.

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Republicans need to “fish where the fish are,” Hunt said: “Our party doesn’t always go to the Black community. I’ve been Black my whole life, man. Growing up — my family is from New Orleans, I grew up here in Houston. And it dawned on me that whenever you look around, you don’t see any Republicans actually taking what we want as a party to the Black community.” 

Hunt aims to change that with a series of events he’s calling “Congress, Cognac, and Cigars.” Throughout the summer, the Texas representative will host conversations inviting Black men who live in minority-majority cities in swing states to hear how Republicans will lead on issues that matter to all Americans. 

NEW POLL REVEALS DEMS ARE LOSING SIGNIFICANT SUPPORT FROM THESE 2 KEY DEMOGRAPHICS: ‘ESPECIALLY CONCERNING’

Reps. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, right, and Russell Fry, R-S.C., attend a House Judiciary Committee markup on the Border Security and Enforcement Act of 2023 and other matters, in the Rayburn Building on Wednesday, April 19, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The first event will take place on Tuesday, June 4th in Philadelphia and will feature a discussion between Hunt and his friend and college Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., with former NFL sideline reporter Michele Tafoya as moderator. Similar events will follow in Atlanta, Ga, Detroit, Mich. Milwaukee, Wisc., Charlotte, N.C. and other cities in states key to winning the 2024 presidential election.

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The initiative comes as recent polls have showed minority voters appearing to sour on President Biden. The surveys, released Monday by the New York Times, Siena College and the Philadelphia Inquirer, show Trump with the lead in five of the six key battleground sates where he was narrowly defeated by Biden four years ago. 

Especially concerning for Democrats is the polls found Biden leading Trump among Black voters 63% to 23%, which would be a sharp drop from the 87% of Black voters who supported Biden in 2020 and helped him flip Georgia and other swing states. If the results stand on election day, Trump winning more than 20% of the Black vote would be the highest level of backing by Black voters of a GOP presidential candidate in generations. 

Hunt argues the tide is now turning in favor of Trump and Republicans. 

‘COUNTRY IS IN CRISIS’ HOUSE GOP UNLEASHES ON DEMS WITH BLISTERING AD MARKING 6 MONTHS UNTIL ELECTION DAY

A flyer for Rep. Wesley Hunt's "Congress, Cognac, and Cigars" event.

A flyer advertises the “Congress, Cognac, and Cigars” event featuring Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and moderator and former NFL sideline reporter Michele Tafoya.  (Office of Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas)

“President Trump in 2020 got 18.2% of the Black male vote. That’s almost 20%. To put that in perspective, [2008 Republican nominee] John McCain got roughly 4% of the Black male vote. So what you’re seeing is exponential growth,” Hunt said. “And if we could turn that 20% into 25%, which is very likely at this point, now we’re having a very different conversation.” 

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Hunt acknowledged that the dramatic political realignment he described “doesn’t happen overnight.” But he said the seed is planted because Biden has been “a horrible president in the Black community,” pointing to high inflation and the border crisis. 

Inflation rose again in April, with wholesale prices climbing another 2.2%, the highest level since April 2023, according to a Labor Department report released Tuesday. The report comes one day before the Biden administration will release the closely watched consumer price index (CPI), which measures prices paid directly by consumers. That report is expected to show inflation rose 0.4% in April from the previous month and climbed 3.4% from the same time last year.

“What you hear a lot is President Biden harps about how great the stock market is right now. Well yeah, that’s good if you have the kind of capital for investments. But everyday middle class workers that make under $80,000 a year are getting absolutely destroyed,” Hunt said, citing rising costs for eggs, bacon and other groceries. 

BLACK GOP LAWMAKER SHUTS DOWN ‘ENRAGED’ PROTESTER CALLING HIM ‘RACIST’ DURING PRO-TRUMP SPEECH

“The Black community is hypersensitive to that because the Black community is in a lower socioeconomic demographic than the average American,” he added.

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Fox News political analyst Gianno Caldwell said it is “critically important” for Republicans to be present in the Black community if they hope to win their support.

“Republicans don’t win in many of these areas because they don’t show up, and that’s what’s been the problem,” Caldwell said. 

He agreed with Hunt’s assessment that the Democratic Party’s stronghold on the Black vote is loosening as living costs rise and illegal immigrants receive millions of taxpayer dollars in benefits denied to American citizens. 

OUTRAGED RESIDENT WARNS WHAT $70M MIGRANT FUNDING WILL DO TO SANCTUARY CITY

Chicago migrants

A group of migrants receives food outside the migrant landing zone during a winter storm on January 12, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. (KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

“It’s beginning to fall apart with Joe Biden … with migrants coming from all over the world into particular communities and resources being usurped in those communities,” said Caldwell, mentioning his hometown of Chicago as an example. 

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Matt Shupe, a Republican communications strategist and principal of Praetorian Public Relations, said Hunt and other Republicans would be wise to expand the party’s reach into places where the GOP has traditionally been risk-averse. 

“Republicans should be campaigning everywhere, all the time, and to all voters, especially to voters that typically don’t vote Republican. Politics is about addition, not stagnation. We cannot afford to cede entire demographic groups; we will eventually wither away from attrition,” Shupe said.

“What Rep. Hunt and Rep. Donalds are doing is great. We need more ‘brand ambassadors’ like them to go outside their districts and speak to voters who don’t typically hear from Republicans,” he added. 

CONTENTIOUS PRIMARIES IN 3 STATES SET UP CRUCIAL GENERAL ELECTION MATCHUPS IN HOUSE, SENATE – WHAT TO KNOW

Rep. Byron Donalds

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) speaks during the Moms for Liberty Joyful Warriors national summit at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown on June 30, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Donalds will appear with Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas at a “Congress, Cognac, and Cigars” event in Philadelphia on June 4th.  (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

The “Congress, Cognac, and Cigars” tour is Hunt’s own initiative and is not officially supported by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which seeks to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives. But the NRCC has launched a multi-million-dollar “Battle Station Program” that has set up field offices in 25 swing districts where Republicans hold office, with plans to add 20 offices in challenger districts once the primary season ends.

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“Republicans can compete anywhere when we recruit candidates who share a similar life story and experiences as the people they are running to represent. Wesley Hunt is a critical partner in expanding the GOP’s outreach to minority voters,” said NRCC National Press Secretary Will Reinert.

Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District is a prime NRCC target, where former State Senator George Logan, who is Black, is expected to win the Republican primary and challenge Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn. If Logan wins, he would a small but growing number of Black Republicans serving in the House. 

Winning over a constituency that has backed the Democratic Party with super majorities since the Great Depression is no small task. But Hunt noted that between the 117th and 118th Congress, the number of Black Republicans elected doubled from two to four. He argues small, incremental changes will come as Black voters see young, enthusiastic Republicans like himself and Donalds, both under 45, engaging their communities and meeting them where they are. 

Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas

Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, walks down the House steps of the Capitol on Thursday, May 18, 2023. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“This is the Republican Party today, and the reason why it’s the Republican Party today is the growth that we have seen over the course of the past few generations that created a Wesley Hunt,” Hunt said. 

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“So now Wesley Hunt has got to tell the Black community this: I know what your grandparents went through. I know what your parents went through. But this is a true meritocracy today. And my generation doesn’t have any ties to Jim Crow. We have ties to a low mortgage. We have ties to feeling safe. We have ties to border security. We have ties to lower information. 

“We have developed a meritocracy, so let’s act like it — and the Republican Party is the one that wants to treat everyone fairly, and the Democratic Party is the party that wants to pick winners and losers,” Hunt said. “And that’s not America.” 

Fox News Digital’s Paul Steinhauser and Fox Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this update.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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Video: Biden Delivers Commencement Address at West Point

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Video: Biden Delivers Commencement Address at West Point

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Biden Delivers Commencement Address at West Point

President Biden called on graduates of the U.S. Military Academy to honor their oath to protect American democracy against threats abroad and — in an indirect reference to former President Donald J. Trump — at home.

Nothing is guaranteed about our democracy in America. Every generation has an obligation to defend it, to protect it, to preserve it, to choose it. Now it’s your turn. On your very first day at West Point, you raised your right hands and took an oath not to a political party, not to a president, but to the Constitution of the United States of America, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. And just as this historic institution helped make America free over two centuries ago, and just as generations of West Point graduates have kept us free through every challenge and danger, you must keep us free at this time like none before. I know you can. I know you will.

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PA GOP Senate candidate McCormick completes 67-county tour, trades lying accusations with Casey

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PA GOP Senate candidate McCormick completes 67-county tour, trades lying accusations with Casey

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Dave McCormick, the Republican challenger for Pennsylvania’s coveted U.S. Senate seat, completed a 67-county tour of the Keystone State on Friday. 

It’s not quite the “full Grassley” of presidential politics, when candidates visit all 99 counties ahead of the Iowa caucuses, but with President Biden and former President Trump in a dead-heat for Pennsylvania and the Senate majority in the balance, every point and all 67 counties count.

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After 42,000 miles. McCormick celebrated the last of his 345 stops at an Italian restaurant in Matamoras. In an event on the Friday afternoon before Memorial Day Weekend, he delivered a stump speech to about 30 supporters over pizza and soda.

“I was so excited to be able to plant the flag today because it’s just the demonstrated commitment to being across our great Commonwealth and seeing people in all these communities,” McCormick told Fox News in an exclusive interview after his Pike County stop on Friday. “I think you campaign the way you’re going to be a senator, and I’m going to be a senator that represents all of Pennsylvania, not just the urban areas.” 

McCormick’s opponent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey has a two-point edge in the race, according to polling conducted April 28 to May 9 by The New York Times, Siena College and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

McCormick’s campaign milestone comes as a Broad + Liberty report accused Casey of lying about visiting all 67 counties each year. The report used X posts as a metric to tally Casey’s campaign stops across the commonwealth, concluding that Casey only visited 39 counties since January 2023. Based on internal documents obtained by Fox News, Casey visited all 67 counties in 2022, but fell short at 63 counties in 2023. 

CRUCIAL SENATE SHOWDOWN IN KEY BATTLEGROUND STATE OFFICIALLY UNDERWAY AS CASEY, MCCORMICK WIN PRIMARIES

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Dave McCormick, the Republican Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, records a video along the U.S. – Mexico border after receiving a briefing from officials, in Yuma, Arizona on May 18, 2024.  (Dave McCormick Senate campaign )

A spokesperson for Casey emphasized the importance of quality visits over the quantity of visits and said not all of these campaign stops are posted online. His Senate office tracks the first and last visit to each county every year. For instance, in 2023, Casey visited Lehigh County for the first time on Jan. 6, 2023, and his last visit was on Dec. 21, 2023. And that’s not to say he didn’t visit Lehigh County several times in between. McCormick isn’t convinced.

He said that he visits every county every year,” McCormick told Fox News on Friday. “So, you know, he can show you the evidence. We don’t see any evidence that he visits every county every year.”

To McCormick, the county controversy goes beyond hearsay. He says it’s about showing up for Pennsylvanians all across the commonwealth.

It’s a number of cases where Bob Casey says one thing and does another,” McCormick told Fox News on Friday. “He stands up and says his and Biden’s policies are going to reduce inflation. And then in a room, he gets caught on tape saying, hey, listen, there’s nothing we can do to lower prices. Or he says he’s for policies that ensure that we source from American industries, and then he votes and waives exceptions on them because he and Biden’s policies on EVs aren’t adequately supported by U.S. industry. So time and again, Bob Casey says one thing and does another, and so I don’t think he’s been forthright with the people of Pennsylvania.”

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McCormick, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, consistently ties Casey to President Biden. A day after accepting the Republican nomination, McCormick released an ad slamming Casey for voting with Biden “98 percent” of the time. 

“Bob Casey’s lack of visiting these counties, his lie on this is also representative of why he’s out of step with most Pennsylvanians, and that’s why most Pennsylvanians can’t name a single thing that Bob Casey’s accomplished,” McCormick continued last Friday. “They can’t believe that he’s voted 98% of the time with Joe Biden. So the connection I’m making is the lie on the county visits with his positions being increasingly liberal, increasingly bowing to the progressive left and increasingly out of step with Pennsylvania. That’s the connection.”

Senator Bob Casey speaks during an event

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., speaks during the Inaugural Independence Dinner in Philadelphia, on Nov. 1, 2019.   (Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE IN CRUCIAL RACE IN KEY BATTLEGROUND STATE REPORTS $6.2 MILLION HAUL

Just ahead of the Pennsylvania primary, McCormick was the Senate candidate dodging accusations of lying. A New York Times report found that McCormick embellished details about his upbringing, particularly about growing up on a Pennsylvania farm. McCormick has denied these allegations, his background emblematic of his Senate campaign and a fixture of that stump speech. 

“My folks had a family farm,” McCormick told the group in Pike County Friday. “They lived in town in Bloomsburg. My dad worked at the college, but I baled hay. I trimmed Christmas trees. I was a busboy at the hotel. I was a paperboy with two paper routes. I played football. I wrestled. I hunted.”

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Pennsylvania Democrats have seized every opportunity to call McCormick a liar, accusing McCormick of jet-setting into Pennsylvania to campaign and nicknaming him “Connecticut Dave” for renting a home in Westport, Connecticut. 

“I don’t think he’s been truthful to people about living in Pennsylvania. He lives in Connecticut in a $16 million house,” Casey told Fox News in an exclusive interview in April. “I think this is kind of a pattern of falsely representing something so basic about where you live and where you once lived. I don’t know why he would make reference to his upbringing in a way that wasn’t fully truthful. He has a lot to be proud of. He’s achieved a lot in his life, and he should talk about what he’s achieved instead of trying to create this image that I guess at one point he made reference to being a farmer, which makes no sense at all. I just think you should be truthful and honest with the people that you’re seeking to represent.”

When pressed by Fox News why Pennsylvania voters should trust McCormick’s word over Casey’s, McCormick said he’s not one to shy away from criticism. He’s urging Casey to do the same. 

“I’m a Pennsylvanian, a seventh generation Pennsylvanian,” McCormick said. “I grew up here. I left here to go to the military, to go to West Point, and then to serve in combat. I came back and created jobs, and that’s the background and experience of leadership I’m going to run on. Bob Casey should answer this question. He was clearly caught in a lie. I’m happy to answer any question. And, you know, politics is a contact sport, but I’ll answer any question forthrightly about my background and why I think I’ll serve the people of Pennsylvania well.”

Dave McCormick hauls in $6.2 million the past three months in his bid for Senate in the Keystone State

Republican Senate candidate Dave McCormick launches a campaign bus tour, in Lititz, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 10, 2024 (Dave McCormick campaign)

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Meanwhile, Casey’s campaign is trying to flip the script on McCormick. 

“Senator Casey is known for his integrity and what he’s delivered for the Commonwealth, meanwhile Connecticut mega-millionaire David McCormick has been lying about everything from where he lives, to the details of his upbringing, to his record of investing millions in Chinese military companies,” Kate Smart, a spokesperson for Casey for Senate, shared with Fox News on Friday. 

With five months until the general election, there’s no sign of the mudslinging (or the campaign bus) slowing down for these Pennsylvania candidates.

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Fistfighting lawmakers and protests mar start of Taiwan's new administration

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Fistfighting lawmakers and protests mar start of Taiwan's new administration

Thousands protesting outside parliament, lawmakers tackling and punching each other inside — it’s not the peace and unity Taiwan’s new president called for when he took office this week.

The democratic, self-ruled island, facing growing pressure from China, is roiling over a controversial bill that critics say could make it easier for Beijing to interfere with Taiwan’s domestic affairs.

The impassioned reaction highlights the tense political atmosphere in Taiwan as the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, enters an unprecedented third term in the presidency. Some fear the party’s confrontational stance toward China could provoke an attack, while its supporters argue that close collaboration with Beijing could cede too much power to the Communist Party.

Beijing considers Taiwan a part of its territory and has vowed to reunify it with the mainland and to achieve that goal by force if necessary.

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On Friday, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the parliamentary building for a third time, objecting to the bill that would subject government officials and private companies to questioning by legislators — or fines or imprisonment.

The bill, if passed, would significantly curtail the power of President William Lai, who would also be subject to an annual policy report by the legislature.

Proponents of the proposal, backed by two opposition parties — the Kuomintang and the Taiwan People’s Party, also known as the KMT and TPP — say it is necessary to improve government accountability.

Critics argue that the bill is being rushed through without proper procedures and that forcing sensitive disclosures would be unconstitutional and could undermine national security. One fear is that those targeted by China will have their private information exposed.

“This sets the tone for how Taiwan’s domestic politics are going to look like under a Lai administration,” said Lev Nachman, a political science professor at National Chengchi University in Taipei. “It’s going to be chaotic, and there’s going to be very little that the DPP is going to be able to do.”

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Lai, the former vice president also known by his Chinese name, Lai Ching-te, won election in January with 40% of the vote. His predecessor, Tsai Ing-wen, held office for the maximum of two four-year terms. But the DPP lost its majority in the legislature, signaling growing discontent among Taiwanese citizens with the previous administration.

Under Tsai, Taiwan grew closer to the U.S. and increasingly at odds with China, which on Thursday launched two days of military drills around the island in a show of displeasure with the new president.

At his inauguration Monday, Lai called on China to cease its military and political intimidation, and said neither side was subordinate to the other.

He emphasized his goal to maintain the status quo but also stressed Taiwan’s autonomy, prompting an angry rebuke from Beijing.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office denounced Lai for promoting “separatist fallacies” and for advocating Taiwanese independence. The country also sanctioned three U.S. defense contractors for providing weapons to Taiwan.

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Growing fears of military conflict have heightened political divisions within the island of 23 million.

As China ratchets up military drills and courts the friendship of opposition lawmakers, that’s increased concerns that the bill could be used to benefit the Chinese government by revealing private information, said Ming-sho Ho, a professor of sociology at National Taiwan University.

“For many Taiwanese people, you see China pressuring Taiwan both from without and also from within,” Ho said. “People are genuinely worried.”

On Friday, protesters chanted their disapproval from the street while legislators reviewed the bill. Some demonstrators waved signs that said “no discussion, no democracy,” while others sported yellow-and-black headbands printed with demands to increase transparency and reevaluate the bill point by point.

Chen Chun-xia, a 60-year-old retiree, said she was concerned that the reforms would enable legislators to interrogate her family over their manufacturing business in Taiwan. It was her first time at the protests, and she was expecting a dozen more family members to join her in the evening after work.

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“I knew I had to be here when I saw the news,” she said. “This is for my family, for the next generation.”

Calvin Lin, 37, and Monica Chen, 34, who arrived at Friday’s demonstration together, met a decade ago during Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement, a massive protest against a bill to boost trade with China. At that time, the KMT held the presidency and the legislative majority but withdrew the bill after student protesters physically occupied the national legislature for three weeks.

This week’s protests have been more organized, Lin said, and he doesn’t expect the legislature to recall the bill. However, he hopes the demonstrations will encourage more dialogue around reforms. He wore a strip of cloth around his arm that said, “Taiwan can only improve without the KMT,” the same slogan he remembers from 10 years ago.

“The most important thing is that the process and the system are fair and healthy,” said Lin, who plans to return to protest with his friends in the coming days. “At least open up the dialogue. That’s the bare minimum.”

“Of course, the parliament can reform, but it’s important to have proper proceedings and discussions,” Chen added.

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The first round of discussions, on May 17, turned violent as some lawmakers tried to stop the proceedings. People punched, shoved and tackled one another; five legislators were sent to the hospital.

This week, a group of 30 academics, former U.S. officials and other critics of the reforms released a joint statement that said the proposal grants the legislature excessive power compared with other constitutional democracies and has not been allowed sufficient review by the public or DPP lawmakers.

The KMT has defended the bill as a way to curb corruption and improve checks and balances within Taiwan’s government. At a Thursday news conference, party members said the proposed measures have nothing to do with cross-strait relations and lambasted the DPP for “fearmongering.”

Despite the protests, the KMT and TPP, which make up the majority of the legislature, have enough support to pass the bill when the session continues Tuesday.

“I think the opposition party has made it known that it is going to use its majority for its political purposes,” said Ho, the National Taiwan University professor, “and this is only the beginning.”

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Yang is a Times staff writer and Wu a special correspondent.

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