British Chinese voters – What issues affect the Chinese community?

With the snap election coming up, Nee Hao continues with the British Chinese Political Series. We will be discussing issues affecting the wider British Chinese community by asking people around the UK their political views and opinions. 

Previously Nee Hao talked about the lack of Chinese people in the UK voting and why it’s important for them to do so. We identified one reason as to why the distant between politicians and the British Chinese public is so great and that is because our problems are overlooked, not understood or simply thought to not exist.

But what exactly are these issues that our community face in Britain that the various political parties can do to help us?

The British Chinese community are known to be the most educated, highest-earning and healthiest among not only all ethnic minorities in Britain but above White British people too. We suffer least when it comes to unemployment, poverty and socio-economic rates, which leads some to perhaps be under the impression that we are not in need of as much support or representation as other groups. However, here are a few we have outlined:

1) Racism

Do you remember when David Whelan came under fire for his words about his use of the word “chink”. At the same time he also insulted Jews, which provoked condemnation from said community. However, while his “chink” remark made headlines too, the backlash from the Chinese population was not as big. Why aren’t more of us speaking out against “casual racism”?

With anti immigrant sentiment in the air, the welfare of anybody who is not White British becomes more vulnerable. While discrimination is more rife towards Black and South Asian people, Chinese people could also potentially be targets.

2) Relationship with the police

The British Chinese Project carried out research, which suggested that a lot of Chinese people in Britain have trust issues with police. Do we feel like we are brushed aside because of our ethnicity? Crimes such as racism, assaults and robberies that we report are apparently not taken very seriously or dealt with as quickly, according to some.

3) Language barrier

Alongside a lack of trust in the police is the language barrier with them. A large number of Chinese people from the first generation do not speak English as a first language and even as a secondary or tertiary language they are not as literate or as confident enough to use it, either to the police or with anyone. This then also transcends into the world of politics with many not understanding the system or what is being said as technical terms can sometimes be confusing.

Should more be done to help Chinese people learn and use English properly? There are some places up and down the country and do provide lessons but are they being promoted well enough to see a surge in numbers and a change overall?

4) Under-represented in the arts and media

As well as in politics, if you look at today’s British films and TV shows – be it the news, a drama series or soap operas – Chinese characters are glaringly absent. Only a handful of Chinese actors and actresses have had any minor roles let alone been part of a main cast.

In 2010, Spirit Warriors, a BBC children’s show was the first British drama series to feature a predominantly East Asian cast, and perhaps the UK’s most noted British Chinese actress is Katie Leung who played a minor role as Cho Chang in the Harry Potter films. Soap opera Eastenders was the first in the UK to introduce a Chinese character in a supporting role – Li Chang, but this step in the right direction was slightly marred by Li being a fake DVD seller and she only lasted 6 months on the show. And in terms of the news, there also seems to be a lack of reporters who are of Chinese origin, even out of their correspondents based in China.

Do you agree with this list and the points made? Are there any issues you would like to add and how do you think politicians, parties, our community as a whole and British society should address or fight these issues? We are interested in thoughts from anyone and everyone from within the British Chinese community so get talking!

Please email your political opinions and viewpoints to:

[email protected]

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