Paul Fong

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Paul Fong
Paul Fong.jpg
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 28th district
22nd district (2008–2012)
In office
December 1, 2008 – November 30, 2014
Preceded bySally Lieber
Succeeded byEvan Low
Personal details
Born (1952-08-05) August 5, 1952 (age 66)
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Grace Mock
ResidenceCupertino, California
Alma materUniversity of San Francisco
San Jose State University

Paul Fong (Chinese: 方文忠; pinyin: Fāng Wénzhōng) (born August 5, 1952) is an American politician. He is a former Democratic California State Assembly member from the 28th district. He lost his bid for the District 1 seat on the San Jose City Council in 2014.

Earlier years[edit]

Fong was born in Macau, then a Portuguese colony, in 1952. When he was three years old, his family moved from Macau to the San Francisco Bay Area.[1]

In the early 1970s, Fong was a star quarterback for the Sunnyvale High School football team. Fong then attended De Anza College and played on its football team. He then attended San Jose State University where he earned his B.A. in Sociology and his master's degree in public administration. In succeeding years, Fong has taught Asian-American studies at De Anza College and Political Science at Evergreen Valley College. He was elected to the board of trustees of the Foothill–De Anza Community College District in 1993 and served as a trustee until 2008, when he left the board due to his election to the California State Assembly.

2008 election[edit]

Fong entered the race to succeed term-limited Democratic assemblywoman Sally Lieber, who was also the outgoing California State Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore.

In the primary, Fong defeated Santa Clara City Councilman Dominic Caserta, Santa Clara County Board of Education trustee Anna Song and Cupertino mayor Kris Wang. In the November 4, 2008, general election he beat his Republican opponent Brent Oya by 76.2% to 23.8%.[2]

2010 election[edit]

Fong won re-election in November 2010 by beating Republican Eric "Shooter" Hickok and Libertarian T.J. Campbell. Fong received 67 percent of the vote, Hickok received 27 percent and Campbell received 6 percent.

2012 election[edit]

Because of redistricting, Fong's home city of Cupertino was placed in the 28th Assembly district, so Fong ran for and won reelection in that district. His opponent was Chad Walsh.

2014 election[edit]

Term limits delineated in California law do not permit Fong to serve more than three two-year terms in the Assembly;[3] thus, Fong could not run for re-election to the Assembly again. He ran for the District 1 seat on the San Jose City Council but lost to Charles "Chappie" Jones.[4]

Shark fin law[edit]

Fong introduced Assembly Bill 376 (AB 376) which was passed by the legislature and signed into law. This law bans the possession, sale, and distribution of shark fins, with some exceptions.[5] The intent of the law is to discourage shark finning, a practice which involves cutting off the tails and fins of living sharks, which are then thrown back into the ocean to die.[6]

The primary use of shark fins is in shark fin soup, an expensive delicacy[7] which because of its high cost was in former times restricted to being consumed by the Chinese aristocracy. With increasing availability of shark fin in modern times, shark fin soup is now often served on special occasions such as weddings and banquets, and is available in many Chinese restaurants. Fong, who was born in China, says, "Anything that is unhealthy, that the culture is practicing, we should stop doing it. We used to bind women's feet and that was unhealthy for the woman".[8] Hawaii's former first lady Vicky Cayetano drew a similar comparison: "shark fin soup is about as cultural as bound feet."[9] However, State Senator Leland Yee argued that the bill constituted "the wrong approach and an unfair attack on Asian culture and cuisine... rather than launch just another attack on Asian American culture, the proponents of the ban on shark fin soup should work with us to strengthen conservation efforts."[10]

AB 376 was approved by the California Assembly on 5/23/11 by a vote of 65 to 8. It was approved by the California Senate on 9/6/11 by a vote of 25 to 9. It was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on 10/07/11.[11]

Pursuant to the new law, it became illegal on January 1, 2013, for any person in California to possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute a shark fin, unless the person holds a special license or permit for that purpose issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Similar laws have been enacted in the states of Hawaii,[12] Washington,[13] Oregon,[14][15] and Illinois,[16] and in Venezuela,[17] Guam,[18] and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.[19]

A member of China's National People's Congress has submitted a formal written proposal to that Congress that shark fin be banned in the People's Republic of China.[20][21] Also, the Chinese government has announced that it will prohibit official banquets from serving shark fin soup by the end of 2015.[22]

A poll commissioned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium found that 70 percent of the Chinese-American voters surveyed favored making it illegal to sell or distribute shark fins.[23]

Proponents and opponents[edit]

Proponents of AB 376 included the Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance (APAOHA),[24] Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Humane Society of the United States, WildAid, Sea Stewards, Sierra Club California, California Academy of Sciences, California Coastal Commission, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense Fund, Food Empowerment Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Nature Conservancy.[25]

Opponents of AB 376 included Asian Food Trade Association, Chung Chou City, Inc., Oriental Food Association, and Stockton Seafood Center.[25] Generally, opponents included shark fin fisheries, traders, and processors, and Chinese restaurants that served shark fin soup. Opponents hired two lobbying firms, Lang Hansen O'Malley & Miller and Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates, to guide their campaign against AB 376.

Fuller lists of the proponents and opponents are found in the Analysis of AB 376[25] released by the California State Senate's Committee on Natural Resources and Water.


Chinese-born NBA Basketball player Yao Ming[26] campaigned for the shark fin ban; he filmed a public service announcement in San Francisco promoting the banning of shark fin soup.

Two Chinese-American candidates in the 2011 San Francisco Mayoral race, David Chiu (President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors) and Phil Ting (the Assessor-Recorder of the city and county of San Francisco), came out in support of the shark fin ban. Betty Yee (member of California's State Board of Equalization) also endorsed AB 376.

The San Francisco Chronicle[27] and the Los Angeles Times[28] both printed editorials endorsing AB 376.


  1. ^ Behind-the-scenes 'godfather' takes political spotlight - San Jose Mercury News
  2. ^ November 4 Presidential Primary Election - SUMMARY RESULTS
  3. ^ "Legislators' Information". Chief Clerk of the California State Assembly. Archived from the original on 2014-10-09. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  4. ^ "San Jose City Council races: Jones, Peralez, Nguyen win". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2014-11-07.
  5. ^ Official California legislative bill information on AB 376
  6. ^ Kwong, Jessica (2011-02-23). "Calif. shark fin bill would ban Chinese delicacy".
  7. ^ Brown, Patricia Leigh (2011-03-06). "Soup Without Fins? Some Californians Simmer". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved 2011-06-22. Shark fins ... can sell for nearly $800 for a 1.6-pound bag
  8. ^ Official Website - Assemblymember Kevin Mullin Representing the 22nd California Assembly District Archived 2011-03-12 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-03-12. Retrieved 2011-07-11.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Senator Leland Yee Throws Down: Goes to Chinatown, Supports a Nuanced Approach to Shark Fin Soup « San Francisco Citizen
  11. ^ California Assembly Bill no. 376, Shark fins, approved October 07, 2011, codified at California Fish and Game Code §§ 2000-2021.5.
  12. ^ "Hawaii: Shark Fin Soup Is Off the Menu". The New York Times. Associated Press. 2010-05-29. p. A16. Retrieved 2011-06-20. Gov. Linda Lingle signed a bill on Friday prohibiting the possession, sale, trade or distribution of shark fins, which are used in expensive Chinese dishes.
  13. ^ Washington bans sale, trade of shark fins
  14. ^ Oregon House of Representatives bills of 2011 Archived 2011-10-07 at the Wayback Machine Oregon's shark fin bill was HB 2838 by Representative Brad Witt. Passed Senate unanimously, passed House 58 to 1. Signed into law by Governor John Kitzhaber on 2011-06-16.
  15. ^ Bills Signed by Oregon Governor Kitzhaber
  16. ^ Schiffman, Lizzie (2012-07-02). "Illinois Shark Fin Ban: First Inland State Adopts Policy Against Fin Sale, Trade". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-07-06. Illinois became the first inland state, fifth in the U.S., to pass a comprehensive ban against the trade, sale or distribution of shark fins on Sunday.
  17. ^ Main, Douglas (2012-06-22). "Venezuela Shark Finning Ban Announced As Country Establishes Sanctuary". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-07-06. from Venezuela this week: The South American country announced it is banning shark finning in its waters
  18. ^ "Guam Moves to Protect Sharks - Governor Calvo Signs Shark Fin Ban Into Law in Guam". Thomson Reuters. 2011-03-09. Archived from the original on 2011-10-11. Retrieved 2011-06-23. ... Guam has now become the third place in the Pacific that has taken a definite stand against shark finning, the trade of fins and shark fin soup.
  19. ^ Shark Fin Possession Bill Made Law Today in Guam
  20. ^ Ma Shukun; Cao Guochang (2011-03-09). "Chinese billionaire lawmaker urges legislation against shark fin trading". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 2011-06-20. A Chinese lawmaker has proposed that the country's top legislature ban the trade of shark fin, a high-end delicacy consumed by wealthy people in China and East Asia.
  21. ^ Hannon, John (2011-05-12). "Shark fight in California". London, Beijing, San Francisco: chinadialogue. Retrieved 2011-06-20. Ding Liguo, a member of China's National People's Congress, had proposed a ban on shark fin in mainland China after news of the California bill reached the country.
  22. ^ Wassener, Bettina (2012-07-04). "China Says No More Shark Fin Soup at State Banquets". The New York Times. p. A4. Retrieved 2012-07-06. China said Tuesday that it would prohibit official banquets from serving shark fin soup
  23. ^ Kwong, Jessica (2011-05-07). "Shark finless soup touted by chefs". San Francisco Chronicle. p. C-1. Retrieved 2011-06-24. 70 percent of the 218 Chinese American voters surveyed favored a ban
  24. ^ 亞太裔美國人海洋 和諧聯盟 [Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance] (in Chinese). Retrieved 2011-06-22. 千百年來,中國哲學都在強調維護人類與自然之間和諧的重要性。中國成語「天人合一」可指代自然、人類、相互了解、和睦共處等,該成語充分表明,對中國人而言,保護環境有著深遠的文化意義。
  25. ^ a b c "Analysis of AB 376". Sacramento, California: California State Senate's Committee on Natural Resources and Water. 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  26. ^ "To Senator Yee: The proposed ban on shark-fin soup has nothing to do with race" [致余胤良州議員:請不要把種族問題扯進來] (in Chinese and English). 2011-04-12. Retrieved 2011-06-24. 禁售魚翅,並不是對中華文化的攻擊。 [Banning shark fin is not an attack on the Chinese culture.]
  27. ^ "Pass ban on shark fins, stop the slaughter". San Francisco Chronicle. 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2011-06-24. AB376 goes right to the source of the problem - demand - by banning the sale or distribution of shark fin. (Editorial endorsing AB 376)
  28. ^ "Saving sharks from the soup". Los Angeles Times. 2011-02-19. Retrieved 2011-06-24. California should impose a ban on the sale or possession of shark fins. (Editorial endorsing AB 376)

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