Chi­nese-French vot­ers seek louder voice

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD REVIEW -

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.

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