Political Profile: Birmingham’s first elected Chinese councillor

Terry Li Photography
Terry Li Photography

By Tomos Povey – Political Editor 

Political CVs do not get much more impressive than this: Alex Yip has been elected the first ever Chinese councillor in Birmingham.

In May, Mr Yip won a comfortable majority (4,832) over his opponents and was elected a Conservative councillor of Sutton New Hall ward, Birmingham. It had been rumoured that UKIP’s Stuart Connolly might have seized the seat, but he secured only 2,750 votes.

Alex Yip, the son of Chinese parents, was educated at King Edwards grammar school. He had his first stint at politics having completed a BA and MA in International Relations at Leicester University.

He has at first-hand witnessed extremities in the world. In 2005 he worked at an AIDS hospital and orphanage in Ghana and Zambia. He described these experiences as “very difficult… very touching and moving”. Yet, despite the mass inequality people endured, he was humbled by their joyful personalities.

A desire to help people further led Councillor Yip to teach English as a foreign language in Shanghai. 

The blueprint to success at local politics has been understood by Alex Yip; goals are best achieved at local politics-level when councillors disregard their political differences and instead collectively and constructively work together.

The young councillor has been described as putting the “best” back into local politics. Indeed, for many years politicians have been criticised for making gratuitous actions in order to score political points. In addition, of course, to engineering hostile environments toward their “political enemies”. This cannot be said of Mr Yip. 

This year, Councillor Yip has, with cross-party support, vocally condemned the contentious blue print for building 6,000 homes on a green belt and opposed Birmingham council’s decision to implement a green tax.

As a pre-election pledge Councillor Yip promised to focus more attention and make people aware of the perils of fast driving. Recently he rejected the notion of simply building 20mph zones to combat speeding; instead, he argued the need for the upgradings of junctions. Also, he has indicated his support for continued financial support of Good Hope Hospital.

One of the committees he sits on is the Education and vulnerable children. In this capacity he aims to inspire and educate people of their potentials.

Alongside being an active councillor he is also a practising JP (Justice of the Peace) and vice Chairman of the non-partisan British-Chinese Project. The BCP’s aim is to raise the profiles of the British-Chinese community through a range of activities: from supporting political candidates, to granting internships to aspiring media professionals and increasing collaboration with the Chinese embassy. Speaking as vice Chairman, Mr Yip has expressed a deep desire to improve “the rights and voice of the Chinese community”. 

His leadership talents have been demonstrated and he is viewed as a natural leader of the British-Chinese community. 

Unlike many politicians, Councillor Yip truly understands the complexities of holding elected office. Most significantly, he realises that his constituents are his boss. Many of his supporters have said he is a true conviction local politician, who, in numerous cases, has shown to be representing the people and their beliefs.

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