Poll: More Chinese seeking public office in UK
The Liberal Democrats are fielding three ethnic Chinese candidates — Steven Cheung, Philip Ling and Alexander Payton. The Green Party has one, James Chan, and Labour two, Sarah Owen and Rebecca Blake.
There were seven ethnic Chinese candidates at the last general election in 2010, and none won a seat in the House of Commons.
With the rapid growth in the number of skilled immigrants and students from China settling in Britain, there has been a political awakening and a growing desire to have their voices heard, according to experts.
“For a long time, the Chinese community has stayed outside the political process in the UK,” said Joseph Wu, a member of the British Chinese Project. “Few Chinese candidates have stood in elections. But in the last five years we have seen the Chinese becoming engaged in a wide range of political events and making use of the British political process to voice their concerns.
“With the increased Chinese investment in the UK and Europe, parties increasingly recognize the need to engage the British Chinese community.”
He said he hoped the 11 candidates will inspire more Chinese to become involved in politics.
Chinese Project, working with another organization that pushes for increased involvement in British politics, arranged a campaign bus tour promoting voter registration in the run-up to the election. The initiative helped to make the community more visible to the country’s political parties.
“We need to vote and make Chinese voices heard by the government,” said Christine Lee, founder and chairwoman of the British Chinese Project.
Anna Manwah Lo, a Hong Kong-born politician who won a Northern Ireland Assembly seat in 2007, was the first East Asian to be elected to a legislative body in the UK. Lord Wei, a Conservative peer and chairman of Conservative Friends of the Chinese, sits in the House of Lords, Britain’s unelected upper chamber.