Author Archives: Merlene Emerson

Reporting back on the ALDE conference in Stockholm

The ALDE Party Congress in Stockholm 26-28 May 2023

Merlene Emerson, one of the 10 LibDem Council delegates to ALDE Party reporting back

Who?
ALDE Party (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe) is an umbrella membership party of liberal leaning and social democratic parties in Europe. There are currently 77 members across 44 countries in Europe, both in EU as well as non-EU countries. Sadly, the LibDems have now fallen into the 2nd category but it remains a lifeline that keeps us connected with others in the liberal and democratic family in Europe.

What?
So what was the recent Congress all about and how do I encapsulate in a short blog the spirit and substance of the annual gathering? There were Policy resolutions passed (ranging from Restoration of a pro-active Trade Policy, to supporting Introduction of Civil Partnerships in Ukraine), election of new Bureau members and important amendments to internal regulations, but it was the first session, a fireside chat with Vice-President Margrethe Vestager and Commissioner Vera Jourova that I found hugely inspiring.

Posted in Europe / International and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 20 Comments

In conversation with the founder of LibDem Friends of Taiwan, Jonathan Philip Bird

Jonathan (JPB) talks with Merlene Emerson of the Chinese Liberal Democrats (CLD)

CLD: Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you developed your interest in Taiwan?

JPB: I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2004. I would have been a member of an Alliance party from 1983/84 but I was brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness, and the group forbids political involvement. I have been an active member of my branch since then, running as a ward candidate a number of times.

As well as Taiwan I am passionate about Europe being a core member of the cross-party campaign Cardiff for Europe since 2016.

I lived in Taiwan in 2009 and 2010. I found the political situation of the island fascinating. I discovered the Liberal English language newspaper Taipei Times, in a newsagent. Since my time there I have been a daily reader of the Taiwanese press, and kept up with developments, there.

The year of 2015 saw both ends of my political interest overlap. The historic victory of our Liberal International sister the Democratic Progress Party victory in Legislative assembly and Presidential elections. That contrasted so strongly with the trauma of May 2015 here. I contacted Tim Farron as Liberal Democrat leader and suggested he send a letter to Tsi Win as a fellow liberal. He did so and
I believe it is important that those who champion democracy should support each other.

CLD: What are your observations of the political future of Taiwan?

JPB: Unfortunately, the status quo is not an alternative allowed by the CCP. In 2008 the People’s Assembly passed the “Anti Succession act” it caused consternation in Taiwan and extended the post TianAnMen Square European Union ban on arms exports. Not only did it threaten war on Taiwan should it declare independence or redefine its constitution as the Republic of Taiwan etc.. but also, commands the Bejing regime to continually assess the rate of progress to unite with China. If that progress is considered to have stalled, then to use force to “reunify” China.

Posted in Europe / International and Interviews | Tagged and | 1 Comment

For International Women’s Day: an interview with Yue He Parkinson

On International Women’s Day, Chinese Lib Dems’ Merlene Emerson interviewed our newest member, Ms Yue He Parkinson, about why she is interested in UK and China politics and her decision to join the party.

ME: Yue, could you tell us a bit about yourself, your background, education and career?  When did you settle in the UK?

Yue: I was born, educated and worked in Canton, China, and moved to the UK in 2004 to study International Relations at the University of Bristol, and awarded an MSc. Since then, I have settled down in Portishead, Bristol with my family of 4. I am now working as a bilingual writer and author, and was invited by the BBC World Service to comment on Chinese politics in Dec 2022.  

ME:  What made you decide to go into politics yourself, first as a journalist writing about UK and China relations and now by joining a political party?

Yue: I have always been interested with politics, I studied politics at the University of Bristol, I have interviewed politicians, studied British history, and analysed politics and UK-Sino relations for over 8 years. It took me about 20 years to understand British politics and society, say democracy, freedom, equality, fairness, etc, as the politics and society in China ARE ABSOLUTELY DIFFERENT FROM British politics and society EXCEPT in the areas of trade, business and science where both share certain common languages. I now feel confident to get more involved in British politics. Also my two girls are over 10 now, so I am free to devote myself to my own interests.

ME:  Did you consider joining any of the other major parties before joining the Liberal Democrats?   What attracted you to the party?

Yue: Yes, I knew the Chinese organizations in the three parties from 2015 when I covered Chinese in British politics for BBC Chinese. For the majority of mainland Chinese immigrants, the only party that can get their attention must be the Conservatives, not only are they in power, but it is also the only party mainland Chinese immigrants are able to understand and accept.  British society is kinder and fairer as compared to Chinese society, where you are reliant on yourself, and no one will help you unless you have money or power. It is an extremely hard and cruel social environment, no freedom of speech, no right to strike, etc. That’s why I have always said that the British don’t know how lucky they are.

Liberal Democrats embrace beliefs which I find are the best in the UK. It’s in the middle way, not that conservative, not that labour either.

ME:  I like that, describing the Lib Dems as in the middle way (very Chinese).  What are your political ambitions, if any?  Would you consider standing as a candidate in local or general elections yourself?

Yue: I don’t think I am that ambitious as I have long way to catch up with the front line of British politics. Yet I am keen to stand as a candidate in local and general elections. I came from China where the focus is on people’s duties and responsibilities, with few rights, opposite to British society where there’s a higher degree of emphasis on human rights. The middle way – balanced with rights and duties are the best for the community – has been a dream to achieve, although I understand that often only extreme politics, right or left, can win most voters over.

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The Elections Act made easy

On 11 August, in celebration of ASEAN Day (8 August), the Libdems Overseas (LDO) group based in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia held a virtual meet-up with guest speaker, Lord Wallace of Saltaire. On the agenda was the very important topic of how to prepare Brits living abroad to register and vote in future general elections and national referendums.

The Act received the Royal Assent in April this year but is riddled with problems, and has yet to be brought into force by statutory instrument. It introduces amongst other things votes for life (including for those who have lived overseas for more than fifteen years) but also more stringent requirements for voting, such as photo-IDs for UK voters. This would disenfranchise about 9% of voters who currently do not possess one of the permissible forms of photo-ID. Student cards are apparently not acceptable, though pensioners Freedom passes are. The Act would also make it easier for political donations from abroad, though those over £500 would still have to be reported by the political party to the Electoral Commission.

It is therefore no surprise that Lord Wallace who led the Party in debates on the Bill has described it as a “nefarious piece of legislation”, “shabby and illiberal”. The Liberal Democrats had proposed two amendments to the Elections Bill in the House of Lords, neither of which were accepted by the UK Government:

  • A feasibility study leading to British citizens living abroad having their own overseas constituencies and Members of Parliament, as happens with France.
  • Overseas voters to be issued their ballots electronically either by email or downloaded to increase substantially the likelihood that their votes would arrive in time.
Posted in Europe / International and Lib Dem organisations | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Book review: “The Avoidable War” by Kevin Rudd

As the title of the book suggests, the author believes meeting jaw to jaw would be far better than catastrophic conflict and war between the US and China.  He also lays out in painstaking detail no less than 10 different scenarios, as a “cautionary guide” to policy makers navigating the dangerous waters in the decade ahead.

Would America have their Waterloo moment with China taking over Taiwan militarily or will it relive a new Korean stalemate with protracted military conflict and large- scale casualties on both sides?  Of course, ideally China and the US could also find themselves within a new world order without the need for military confrontation (Xi’s Optimal Plan).

At an interview last month following the launch of the book in Washington, Rudd said that writing the book was like giving birth to an elephant.  Indeed, the book is no light reading from a heavy weight Sinologist, former PM of Australia and current President and CEO of the Asia Society think tank.  Yet I raced through the chapters without too much effort, finding the tone and style flowing and engaging. Rudd also managed to dissect complex issues into bite sized chapters, shedding light on China’s concentric circles of concern and influence.

The kernel that lies within the first concentric circle is of course the Chinese Communist Party and the politics of staying in power.  Rightly or wrongly, Xi and the leadership believe that China needs strong central leadership lest it dissolves into bickering camps or breaks up like the Soviet Union had in 1991. With Xi Jinping thought now embedded in the Chinese Constitution and the removal of 2 fixed terms of the Presidency, the next 20th Party Congress in the second half of 2022 is likely to deliver the result he wants.

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Cllr Sarah Cheung-Johnson takes the helm of Chinese LibDems

At a virtual AGM last Sunday, South Cambridgeshire Councillor Sarah Cheung-Johnson (pictured) was unanimously elected as the new Chair Chinese LibDems (CLD) for 2022. The meeting was well attended including by members from the Korean and Vietnamese diaspora communities.

This has of course been the vision of CLDs. – To be a network representing not just Chinese people but those of East and SE Asian heritage as well. In fact CLDs attempted a name change to BESEA (British East/South-East Asian) or CESEA in the past year, but the resolution did not pass.

During the formal part of the meeting, attendees received reports on the activities of CLDs over the past year including a virtual Chinese New Year celebration in February with Sir Vince Cable as guest speaker.  Members of the CLD executive Linda Chung, Victoria Collins and Dr Yeow Poon have also been active in the anti-racism campaign (CARG – Covid19 Anti Racism Group) including participation in rallies in London and Birmingham.

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Focus on Hong Kong

This week’s news included an early “obituary” for Apple Daily, the eponymous newspaper founded by Jimmy Lai, a long-time critic of the Hong Kong and Beijing Governments.

The prediction of closure of the pro-democracy paper by the end of the week followed the arrests of the executives (including the editor-in-chief and the chief executive) and freezing of the assets of the parent company, Next Digital.  All the staff of the publication are expected to resign this week and the last issue may be the June 26 edition.

This news is remarkable to me in 2 respects: 

First, that the charges made against Apple Daily and its executives were based on breaches of the National Securities Legislation (NSL) for alleged “collusion with a foreign country” to endanger national security.  Which foreign country is implicated here?  The US, one assumes, rather than the UK, as there is a narrative that Hong Kong is a mere pawn in the US-China rivalry.  But do HKers who object to the imposition of the NSL have to collude with any external forces?  Or are they simply objecting because they do not like to see the rights and freedoms that they had grown accustomed to being taken away? 

This new crime of collusion with a foreign country or external forces (one of the 4 new crimes introduced by the NSL on 30 June 2020, the others being “secession” “subversion” and “terrorist activity”) should raise alarm bells for us in the UK too. It would suggest that the more vocal the Lib Dems are in criticising China and the NSL, the higher the risk to our members and supporters in Hong Kong.  

Secondly, the authorities have frozen the company’s core assets even before trial or any legal process, as the NSL operates outside of the HK legal system.  As the paper is unable to pay their staff and even their utility bills, they are forced to shut-down.   Here is a clear example of an attack on independent media and critics of the government in the name of national security, and attacking where it hurts, at its finances.   

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What’s in a name?

We conducted a survey recently on a proposed name change for Chinese Liberal Democrats. This initiative was partly spurred on by a rise in Covid19 anti-racism against people of Chinese and East Asian appearance. Singaporeans and South Koreans alike have suffered race hate attacks following the Covid19 pandemic. We would like to reach out to, represent and speak up for those communities too.

In addition, there has been a move over the last decade, particularly for those working in the arts and media to identify themselves as “East and SE Asian”, a term that has entered the lexicon.

Posted in Lib Dem organisations and News | Tagged | 2 Comments

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.

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Vince’s New Book – China: Engage! Avoid the New Cold War

He has done it again.  Sir Vince Cable has seemingly effortlessly published yet another book. This is at least his 6th, following Globalisation and Global Governance (2000), The Storm (2009), Free Radical (2010),  After the Storm (2015) and the novel Open Arms (2018). Despite its shorter length at around 99 pages, it is packed full with well researched facts and figures, insightful analysis, and is reflective of the mind of an ex economist and academic.

The title China: Engage! Avoid the New Cold War, makes clear his dovish view where it concerns the cold (and possible hot) war involving China. This stance is not ideologically driven but grounded on global evidence seen through the eyes of a senior statesmen and former Business Secretary in the UK Government (2010-2015).

The chapters are constructed in digestible chunks covering China’s economic rise, reasons for deteriorating relations with the US, alignment of the other nations and the more serious tech war.  I say serious as we all know that now in our 4th industrial revolution whoever comes out on top in the IT/AI race will be the one that rules the waves.

I write this serving my 14 day quarantine in a designated facility in Singapore and if not for access to wifi, I would be climbing the walls.  But instead I have just been watching Irina von Wiese speak on Brexit at the European Liberal Forum and am about to log into the Covid19 Anti Racism webinar hosted by the Chinese Welfare Trust charity.  Sadly anti-China sentiment has resulted in a sharp rise in hate crime against the Chinese diaspora communities in the UK and around the world.

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Hong Kong – a dead end or a fork in the road?

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Chinese Liberal Democrats are pleased that there will be a motion, F31, to be debated at Autumn Conference on “Hong Kong’s Future.”  According to the Conference Agenda, it is scheduled for debate on Monday September 28 but at the unfortunate time of 18.50.  This means that anyone in Hong Kong who would like to participate would have to stay up till 2am, Hong Kong time!

This motion has undergone a number of redrafts, as the situation in Hong Kong is fast changing.  More recent developments such as the postponement of the Legislative Council elections on 8 September for a year till 2021 following the disqualification of 12 pro-democracy candidates from eligibility as candidates were not mentioned in the original motion.  Lib Dems Overseas has therefore proposed an amendment and update which we trust will be accepted for debate by the Federal Conference Committee.

In the meanwhile, I should like to draw everyone’s attention to a survey on Hong Kong which the Chinese Liberal Democrats have prepared to help in our research and policy making.  Do you agree, for example, that the new securities law breaches the Joint Declaration on Hong Kong and threatens “one country two systems,” or do you think it was China’s right to introduce this legislation as an annexure to the Basic Law?

And what of the Lib Dem offer to accept all Hong Kong permanent residents to emigrate to the UK, not just those with British Nationals Overseas status?  Is this realistic or practicable from the UK’s point of view, and do the Hong Kong people even want to up-root themselves across continents?

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The teaching of colonial history

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I have been championing the teaching of black and colonial history in schools for as long as I can remember and was a member of the task force set up in 2012 under Baroness Meral Ece on Race Equality in Education and Employment. Through learning about the impact and legacy of colonialism, we can forge a modern British identity, bridge past divisions as well as better inform Britain’s dealings with the rest of the world.

I had previously held a benign view of the Commonwealth legacy.  Today Singapore students rank in the top 3 places on OECD’s PISA league tables for schools, while 16 and 18 year olds still subscribe to the Cambridge board examinations. It meant I could, when aged 18, move with ease to London to study law.

The legacy of empire is controversial but the spread and use of the English language as the lingua franca is undoubtedly a positive.  The introduction of maritime trade links, development of ports and rail infrastructure are other commendable outcomes. There is also a “Commonwealth advantage” where countries with similar legal systems, professional training and a common language are better able to trade with each other across continents.

On the flip side (as the Black Lives Matter movement has brought into sharp focus), the slave trade promoted across the Atlantic between the 16th and 19th centuries has led to entrenched racism and inequalities. Though other colonial powers were involved, the British had played a key role in transporting 12.5 million Africans to plantations in the Americas, with some 2 million dying en route.  When the slave trade finally ended, it was the slave owners who were compensated, not the victims and their families.

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The geopolitics of Covid19 – international webinar

On Sunday 28 June at 1400 BST, a time chosen to suit a global audience, LibDems Overseas (LDO), a g(local) party, co-hosted our first webinar with the Paddy Ashdown Forum, the centrist think tank supported by the European Liberal Forum. Participants who joined via Zoom were largely drawn from LDO’s 1000 members and supporters living in over 40 countries outside Europe. The event was moderated by LDO Chair, George Cunningham.

Covid19 has been called a “game changer”, knocking all countries sideways economically and in the sphere of public health. It has also awoken the world to the rise of China, where the outbreak started, and which may be perceived as the nation to come out “on top” after the pandemic.

Our first speaker Dr Christine Cheng, (lecturer in War Studies at Kings College London and key member of the Federal Policy Committee) focused on the impact of Covid19 on UK-China relations. Based on a 2019 Delta poll, Brits over-estimated UK’s influence in the world as #2 after the US and ahead of China at #3. Cheng recommended that the UK should stay aligned with the EU for greater clout. The diplomatic row between China and Canada, sparked by the detention of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer, was followed by China’s arrests of two Canadians on suspicion of espionage. More recently, Australia’s call for an independent investigation into the origins of the Coronavirus resulted in tariffs being imposed on Australian goods. These instances point to a more confident China, ready to defend its ground.

Posted in Europe / International | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

The Dawn of Webinars

Whilst we have been physically isolating due to Covid19, the virtual world has turned into a global village. Not a day passes without seeing news of another virtual conference or webinar.

A less propitious phenomenon, however, has been the alarming rise in hate crime towards British Chinese and other East Asian communities due to the pandemic. This has exposed deep seated racism against those who look Chinese in our society. Meanwhile misinformation in the media, whether deliberate or unintentional, has heightened fears and bigotry, leading to harassment, abuse and in some cases physical attacks.

To better understand the history of the …

Posted in Events and News | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Interview with Chair of Covid19 Anti-Racism Group (CARG)

Dr Yeow Poon

ME: Dr Yeow Poon, you have been the Chair of the Chinese Community Centre in Birmingham since 1995, founded the England China Business Forum in 2013 and are also a trustee of the Chinese Welfare Trust national charity. Why was it necessary to set up the Covid19 Anti-Racism Action Group (CARG)?

YP: The spread of COVID-19 in the UK has led to an increase in racism and hate crime towards British Chinese, East and Southeast Asians. Incidents ranged from children being taunted in schools to international students being violently attacked. The insistence of some political leaders and media commentators calling COVID-19 the Chinese virus, and attempts to deflect blame to China, has also further inflamed racism. CARG was set up to counter these negative narratives in the media.

ME: As of today, COVID-19 has infected nearly 2m people globally, and the UK is in lockdown with over 10,000 deaths. Why would the British public be concerned with the rise in hate crime against the Chinese and East Asian communities?

YP: Hate crime towards any community should never be tolerated. COVID-19 does not discriminate ethnically. On the frontline in the NHS, in care homes and the community, we are working together to combat and mitigate the effects of COVID-19. These selfless acts by individuals from diverse backgrounds should be applauded. Also, the many examples of mutual help and research collaboration between the UK and China should be encouraged and strengthened.

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Out of the haze

You may have seen images in the news of Indonesia with blood red skies and mired in choking smoke, looking more like Mars than on earth.

Runaway forest fires in Indonesia has been a recurring problem, and the cause of the “haze” in Singapore and Malaysia, depending on which way the wind blows. The fires can rage on for days and weeks in the carbon-rich peat forests, and has so far affected an estimated 69 million people in the region. We can’t even begin to count the cost to the wildlife.

Each day in Singapore we look …

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We Demand Better for Race Equality

Last week, the Resolution Foundation found that UK black and ethnic minorities (BAME) lost an estimated £3.2bn a year in pay gap and called for equivalent gender pay gap reporting for BAME workers. There was another report from the Centre for Justice Innovation on how community sentencing has decreased due to the loss of trust between the judges and magistrates and the probation service since the latter was privatised.

It seems like there is report each week of evidence of race discrimination or breakdown of trust between the UK establishment and the ethnic minority communities. …

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The City and me

Last week (9 October) I stood for the first time in the City of London elections in Castle Baynard ward that stretches from Fleet Street to Blackfriars, taking in St Paul’s Cathedral.  It was a 3-week whirlwind of a campaign. The by-election was called as one of the Common Councilmen in the ward was elected as an Alderman elsewhere and created a vacancy.  There were 8 of us contesting one place.  

My fascination with the City started way back when I landed my first real job as an articled clerk in the City firm of Norton Rose and then working as a solicitor involved in securitisation and cross border finance.  My renewed interest in the City came about when I tried to get on the board of governors of my sons’ independent school.  No parent governors there.   It was all in the hands of the Worshipful Company of the Mercers.  This then led me to investigate the intriguing world of Livery Companies, only to discover that membership of the Mercers was closed (at least to me). 

I persisted in my enquiry and 6 years ago joined a newer and more welcoming livery company, that of the World Traders in the year that Mei Sim Lai OBE DL became Master, the first Master of Chinese heritage in the City’s 800 history!  Yes that would be the livery company for me.

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Inaugural meeting of the Race Equality Policy Working Group

On 13 February, eve of Valentine’s Day, members of the Race Equality Policy Working Group met for the first time at LDHQ. I mention Valentine’s Day because this is very much a labour of love for those of us who have volunteered to assist the Party in its policy making on this important subject.

The first meeting was also timely for another reason: it follows the issue last week of Lord Alderdice’s report on Race, Ethnic Minorities and the culture of the Liberal Democrats and an email from our leader, Vince Cable MP, calling on each and every member to …

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Post-Christmas musings on the R word

The Queen has in her Christmas speech welcomed new members into the royal family in 2018.

Prince Harry will soon have a mother-in-law who is African American and the young couple’s future children will be of mixed race heritage. The society pages lap up the fairy-tale love story and we all cheer ourselves on how liberal we have become as a nation.

Vogue Magazine has a new editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, and we can’t help but notice the change in the complexion of many of the supermodels that grace the glossy pages. Sir Mo Farrah has not only been knighted but has also …

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Populism and the French elections

Lord Malcolm Bruce, Marianne Magnin and Dr Sean Hanley

On the evening of 5 April 2017, the Liberal International British Group held our first joint forum with MoDem (Mouvement démocrate), France’s liberal, centrist party.

Given the recent rise in populist parties, the topic for debate was on ‘Populisms in a Post Truth World’.

Chairing the forum was Mathieu Capdevila, President of Northern Europe MoDem who introduced the speakers:

  • Lord Malcolm Bruce, Member of Parliament for Gordon from 1983 to 2015 and the chairman of the International Development Select Committee from 2005 to 2015
  • Dr Sean  Hanley, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Central and East European Politics, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL
  • Marianne Magnin, Board Chair of the Cornelius Arts Foundation and MoDem’s Parliamentary Candidate for Northern Europe.

Lord Bruce began by asking what constituted “populism”.  Citing Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, he said that Brutus spoke in prose, but Marc Anthony spoke in poetry. On BREXIT, there were no good reasons why the EU Referendum should have been taken as ‘binding’ as opposed to only ‘advisory’.  However, what we needed to do now was to acknowledge that the electorate had valid reasons for voting against the establishment and to find solutions to manage the economy and the wealth more equitably.

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Rock or Island? Disputes in the South China Sea

Whilst researching this subject, I couldn’t help thinking that here were the ingredients ripe for the design of a board game.  It could be something of a cross between “Diplomacy” and “Vendée Globe”?

Each player representing a country of choice could set its mission and collaborate with other players to achieve their desired outcomes.  Chance cards might include whether, say, an international tribunal has decided in their favour.  And tokens could be earned along the way to enable them to reclaim rocks and reefs, build air strips or even patrol the islands with clone submarines?

We are, of course, not speaking of a game but of what is happening in reality, and the countries involved in a potential war game include South East Asian countries (such as Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei) and also greater powers such as China (Taiwan) and the US.  At stake are the rights to valuable resources such as oil and gas, fishing rights and the protection of vital sea routes.

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Romancing the Silk Roads

As someone fascinated by the Central Asian countries, I was delighted when the All Party Parliamentary Group for China (APPCG) organised a talk this week by Peter Frankopan, author of “The Silk Roads – A New History of the World”.

“The Silk Roads are rising again”, said Richard Graham MP, Chair of APPCG at the end of a fulsome introduction of the Oxford University historian.  Yet, there are not many other Parliamentarians, let alone the British public, who are in tune with the zeitgeist.

Frankopan was keen to put into historical context the dramatic changes that we are witnessing today with a shift in the world order. The declining influence of western colonial powers,  the UK’s vote for BREXIT and the election of Trump, were contrasted against a China growing in confidence and pursuing the “One Belt One Road” initiative, the lynchpin for Xi JinPing’s foreign and economic policies.  

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Implications of the European Union Referendum Bill

We have all heard about the European Union Referendum Bill but I suspect most do not realise how close we are to it becoming law. Whether you are a Europhile or Europhobe, you may be interested to know that the Bill will be getting its 3rd reading in the Lords today (1 Dec), after which there will be no more opportunity for the introduction of any new amendments.

I have to confess that I live in a household of Europhiles. My husband spent the early part of his life between aged 2 and 11 living in France, then Netherlands, as his late father was the English Head of the AFCENT International School for families of NATO. My in-laws subsequently retired in France and my step mother-in-law still lives there. She will sadly be barred from voting in the EU Referendum even though it could affect her right to continue to live in France. Brits who have lived abroad for more than 15 years do not currently have the right to vote in any UK elections, let alone in the EU Referendum.

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Vince Cable’s “After the Storm – The World Economy & Britain’s Economic Future”

after the stormWider in scope and more ambitious in its reach, “After the Storm” is the acclaimed sequel to “The Storm” published after the financial crisis of 2008.  Having spent the last 5 years as Business Secretary within the Coalition Government (2010-2015), Vince has the added clout of first-hand experience introducing economic policies that have steered us out of the storm, not least an industrial strategy.

His professed motivation for penning a sequel were to update readers on the state of Britain’s economy in “a climate of guarded optimism,” and to share his insights, no longer bound by collective responsibility as Secretary of State at the Department of Business Innovation and Science.  Whilst the US and UK are expected to record 3% growth this year, Vince’s previous analysis of the underlying weaknesses still apply, such as UK’s over reliance on the banking sector and on the housing market for recovery and growth.

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Opinion: Bridging Futures – Young Migrants in London

When is a Migrant an Expatriate? When he or she is a Brit abroad, obviously.

Inspired by the twin concepts of emigration and immigration, Prof Caroline Knowles posed this question at the launch of her research and report last week, supported by the Runnymede Trust and Goldsmiths College and hosted by Baroness Hussein-Ece at the House of Lords.

Posted in Op-eds | 6 Comments

The Chinese are coming!

Vince in ChongqingChinese Premier Li Keqiang left on Monday this week on a 5 day visit to Britain and Greece.  With him, according to the press, is a 200 strong business delegation, expected to sign up some £18 billion worth of deals.

Just over 2 weeks ago, I was part of Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable’s business delegation to China, taking in 5 cities in 6 days.  Vince was scheduled to be in Beijing to attend UK-China Joint Economic & Trade Committee (JETC) talks with his opposite number, Mr Gao HuCheng, the Minister of Commerce.

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Chinese Liberal Democrats publish e-book on twinned cities

In today’s globalised world, twin city links with China can be profitable bridges between knowledge economies if approached in a creative way by local Councils, business clusters, educational institutions and research establishments working together.  But there are many pitfalls and long-term, multi-layered commitments, leveraging existing core strengths, are required to make them work.  This report by the Chinese Liberal Democrats is a useful handbook on how 21st century twin city-led partnerships can bring valuable results in trade, investment, science and education.

Richard Pascoe- Executive Director, Great Britain China Centre

I  welcome this interesting report.  Twinning links with China, with political leadership

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Launch of EMLD Achievement Awards

It was an idea hatched on a train journey a few months ago whilst travelling with colleagues to an EMLD executive meeting. At our Annual General Meeting last month the hosting of the “EMLD Achievement Awards” as a way of recognising and rewarding those who have fought for and championed race equality in the UK received the approval and endorsement of our members.

There is currently a Federal Party award, the “Dadabhai Naraoji Award”, given to the local party that is the most successful in its outreach to the BAME communities but it was felt that EMLD as an organisation would …

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Opinion: Yin and Yang in China

Images of Mayor Boris Johnson and Chancellor George Osborne in China have featured large in the media over the last week. They have been dubbed Yin and Yang: Boris must be Yin, the softer, cuddlier one, the one that makes school girls giggle over references to Harry Potter and his first girl friend, and Osborne, Yang as he tackles tougher subjects, such as going nuclear with China.

In fact critics such as Will Hutton have been less kind and have instead suggested that the duo have sold out and opened the UK to all manner of risks …

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