2020 Vision – Chinese Liberal Democrats’ Year in Review

2020 may have been something of a wipe out for many.  It has certainly not been an easy year for Brits coping with the twin impact of Covid 19 (now with the new more contagious strain) and Brexit.

For Chinese Liberal Democrats, we started out the year quite oblivious to what was to come, ushering in the Year of the Rat at the National Liberal Club with our AGM and Chinese New Year celebrations on 30th January.  Dr Yeow Poon, our Chair, was the key note speaker, expounding the relevance of liberal democracy in the world today.

Yet it was not quite an annus horribilis, as colleagues and friends would testify.  Here were some of the highlights:

Covid 19 led to a rise in racism against the Chinese and East Asians in the UK.  A few members of CLD decided to establish CARG (Covid19 Anti Racism Group) to lobby the media against using images of Chinese people whenever there were reports relating to the pandemic.  We also held our first webinar with the Paddy Ashdown on “Covid 19 and Racism” in May with speakers former LibDem Councillor Linda Chung and Parliamentary Candidate Dr George Lee.

CLDs had also supported the Black Lives Matter movement following the tragic killing of African America, George Floyd.

To quote Vice-Chair Cllr Sarah Cheung Johnson:

Racism isn’t just being called names in the street or being followed around a shop because you’re black. It’s being honest that we do not live in an equal society now, in 2020. That 48% of BAME children live in poverty not because of prejudice but because our society is fundamentally, structurally racist. This is absolutely not the same as saying most British people are racist.

CLDs has also been engaged in lobbying on international issues and recently co-opted international affairs expert Paul Reynolds and Councillor Yukteshwar Kumar to the executive.   At the Autumn Conference, a number of our members spoke on the motion on the Future of Hong Kong.   But with members who have connections with both Hong Kong and China, our position is more nuanced, recognising that sovereignty of Hong Kong has passed back to China, even as UK has obligations under the Joint Declaration, and for the need for a more joined-up China policy.

Looking ahead to 2021, we want to focus more on domestic issues and to reach out to the wider East Asian and S E Asian diaspora communities.  We will be celebrating our 15th anniversary next year and believe it may be timely to change our name to CESEA (Chinese, East and SE Asian) LibDems.   With Ed Davey as our party leader and Patron, a politician who understands the importance of diversity and equal representation, we are confident that we will be moving with the times and in the right direction.

Website: chineselibdems.org.uk/en/

Twitter: @chineselibdems

* Merlene Emerson is an Executive member of LibDems Overseas and Co-founder of Chinese Liberal Democrats.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Peter Martin 31st Dec '20 - 1:25pm

    ” That 48% of BAME children live in poverty not because of prejudice but because our society is fundamentally, structurally racist”

    34% of all children are living in poverty so by my arithmetic we can only say that there would be a reduction of 14 percentage points if, somehow, we could remove all racism in society. Or a reduction of 29% in poverty levels.

    What about the other 71%? What is the cause of that?

    This is not an argument of excusing racism but rather an argument to get it into a correct perspective. When we use the word ‘because’, all socio-economic factors need to be included.

  • Very little in the way of criticism in regards to the treatment of Honk Kong and the way China imposed its will againsts the spirit of the declaration. Also the constant hassle on Taiwan where the Lib Dems should be pushing for more recognition and help. Also what happening in Tibet and and ethnic minorities in China.

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