Tag Archives: Chinese Lib Dems

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.

Posted in Interviews | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

A nonpartisan campaign to seek apology for the forced repatriation of Chinese Sailors after Second World War

Many thousand Chinese men served in the Chinese Labour Corps in France during the First World War and on the British Merchant ships that supplied Britain in both World Wars. They were renowned to be knowledgeable in their duties, hardworking but were paid less than their British counterparts. Many of them died alongside their British colleagues on land and at sea. At the end of the Second World War over 2000 Chinese seamen who had helped in the war effort lived in Merseyside.

The then Labour Government were concerned that they would stay permanently, also the Seamen’s Union were worried that they would undercut their wages and take their jobs. In 1946 the Liverpool Constabulary carried out the orders from the British Government to deport Chinese sailors in Merseyside. They rounded up the Chinese seamen from lodging houses and from the streets under false pretences and forcibly deported them illegally to China. The men were told that they would not be able to return to the UK.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 4 Comments

Myanmar Executions, what now? 

After the initial burst of news, there have been few updates in the UK press on the situation in Myanmar following the military coup in February 2021.  This was till recently on 25th July 2022, when the military rulers announced that 4 democracy activists were executed.  According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), these 4 executions “were the first carried out among some 117 death sentences handed down by military-run courts since the coup”.

Chinese Libdems posted two articles on Myanmar previously Standing with Myanmar – Military rule and the struggle for democracy in Myanmar (March 2021) and Myanmar’s Simmering War and UK’s moral duty (June 2021).  Given recent developments, it is perhaps timely to give an update on the situation.  

Based on our research, we have gleaned the following:
– Myanmar is in early stages of civil war.  The pro-democracy groups have set up a National Unity Government (NUG) and has established a People’s Defence Force (PDF).  Other armed groups are the Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAO) and the Sit-Tat (Myanmar Armed Forces belonging to the Junta).

– Myanmar is fragmented along conflict lines.  Some areas are under NUG control, and others by the various EAOs and the SIT-Tat.  Some areas would be in conflict as between government and rebel groups.  There is also a breakdown of national institutions (i.e., the military government) with some villages establishing their own administrative bodies.

In July 2022, China’s foreign minister during his first visit since the coup, “called for Myanmar’s junta to hold talks with its opponents.  The Junta would of course want to retain power as far as possible and is currently set on destroying the NUG despite calling themselves a transition government.  The NUG on the other hand is far from united with some seeking the replacement of the 2008 Constitution without any power sharing arrangements.  The execution of the 4 political activists can only stiffen the resolve of the NUG to defeat the Junta.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Why I’m sick of being the invisible minority and why we need to change!

Chinese families live in every community in the UK. Some of the smallest, remotest villages in the UK will still have one Chinese takeaway. And yet we and other East and Southeast Asian minorities are consistently under-represented in the media and in positions of power – in businesses, in the judiciary, the legislature and most other institutions of note.

Hey, have you seen the Chinese family in Eastenders? No? That’s cos they don’t exist – it only started in 1985, maybe they just didn’t get around to it yet. Oh wait, how about the East or Southeast Asian celebrity that’s taken part on Strictly Come Dancing, the biggest show on TV? No? Having just completed its 19th season maybe they couldn’t find anyone…

And on and on it goes. I have young, mixed-race children and their own experience with a lack of representation moved me to start a petition to ask CBeebies to feature a storyteller who was from an East or South East Asian background on their flagship CBeebies Bedtimes stories. They’ve filmed over 800 episodes featuring many diverse guests, Marvel superhero actors, Hollywood stars, Olympic champions and many more. But in the 4 years my kids have been watching them at bedtime, not one has been someone who looks like them.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 24 Comments

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.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged | Leave a comment

Joint statement from LDCRE, BLAC, Lib Dem Muslim Forum and Chinese Lib Dems

More than a year has passed since the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement stunned the world into vowing to take racism more seriously.

Tackling racism, however, always needs to begin at home, and both Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality (LDCRE) and Liberal Democrats Black Lives Action Committee (BLAC) had hoped BLM would propel the party into making faster progress to increase membership and electoral support from ethnic minorities.

LDCRE made a major submission, duly accepted, to the Thornhill Review. The Review’s recommendations included that the party fulfil the recommendations of the earlier Alderdice Review “in full, with urgency”. It added the party should:

  • revise targeting strategy to include the BAME electorate particularly in the most diverse areas,
  • Change the culture of the party to embed at all levels the concerns and interests of BAME communities and issues in all its activities, reaches out to the BAME communities and actively plan how it will achieve real integration at all levels.
  • Ensure resources – paid staff and investment – are in place to implement this.
  • Help local parties reflect the demographic of the electorate they represent.

Alderdice made crystal clear that the party has to make ethnic diversity – not diversity in general – its top priority. Alderdice said: ”In the Liberal Democrats the commitment to diversity and the campaigns to make diversity happen have brought significant changes and improvements for women and LGBT+ members and representation, but not for BaME members and representation.” He stated that ethnic diversity now had to be a “Number 1” priority issue for the party. “The party has a tendency to try to be inclusive of all issues at all times and that has an intellectual appeal, but it has not worked for BaME communities, because addressing everything means focussing on nothing.”

He added: “Every local association needs to compare the make-up of the population in their area with the make-up of the local party, the make-up of the officers in the local party, and whether their activities, leaflets and preoccupations are reflective of the local community.”

So it is incomprehensible that the leadership, who were given responsibility for carrying out the recommendations, are doing precisely the opposite of what Alderdice recommended. It has embarked on a general equality, diversity and inclusion policy that does not prioritise ethnic minorities, and has no plans to lead a campaign to help local parties reach out to local communities.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 10 Comments
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