Chinese-French voters seek louder voice
Paris has Europe’s largest Chinatown, yet the number of politicians of Chinese descent in mainstream French politics is small.
With municipal elections across the country next year to elect more than 36,000 mayors and city councilors, hopes are riding high that voters of Asian and particularly Chinese descent will make a difference this time.
Anne Hidalgo, the Socialist Party’s candidate for mayor of Paris in next year’s race and currently first deputy mayor of the French capital, announced recently that her team has included a person of Chinese descent on the party’s list of candidates for city council.
Chen Wenxiong, better known as Buon-Huong Tan in local communities, is the candidate. Born to a Chinese family that emigrated from Cambodia to France in the 1970s, Chen currently is deputy head of the 13th district of Paris, home to the city’s Chinatown.
His family background and ability to speak fluent Chinese have won him the support of many Chinese immigrants. He made history in 2008 when he became the first ethnic Chinese to hold his current post.
Regardless of whether he stands a chance of winning a seat on the Paris city council, his inclusion on the ruling Socialist Party’s candidate list is a significant development.
It means that the size of the Chinese community and its political awareness have risen to a level that can no longer be ignored. It has become natural for French politicians to appeal to Chinese-French voters, who used to be silent but are now demanding better protection of their political and economic interests as they
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls (center), Paris Deputy Mayor and socialist party candidate for the 2014 municipal elections Anne Hidalgo (fourth left), and Chen Wenxiong (third right), deputy head of the 13th district of Paris, participate in a carnival celebrating Chinese New Year in the 13th district in February.