Sonny Leong: The Chair of Chinese for Labour’s viewpoint on the EU referendum

Sonny Leong CBE – Chair of Chinese for Labour 

As the date of the EU referendum draws ever-closer, the polls suggest it will be a tight finish, that every vote will matter, and that how the nearly half a million British Chinese cast their ballot could determine the outcome of this momentous decision.

We in Labour are clear that Britain is better off in Europe – our membership means we are part of a market with over 500 million consumers which other countries want to do business with. It helps secure the jobs, growth, and investment we need to ensure our children and grandchildren have good jobs and a secure future.

EU membership also gives us a seat at the top table and a stronger voice on the world stage. Britain’s voice is vital in ensuring Europe is a force for greater prosperity and trade around the world. And it is because of Britain’s strong position within Europe, acting as a gateway to the rest of the EU, that we have witnessed a blossoming in China-UK relations over the last few years.

Sonny Leong CBE, Chair of Chinese for Labour: “Britain’s role in the world is under the spotlight – we lead on the Security Council, United Nations, NATO, Commonwealth and other international organisations. We should be leading in the European Union not leaving. Leaving will diminish our global standing and presence.”

When President Xi Jinping travelled to the UK at the end of last year aiming to further strengthen the relationship between Britain and China, he raised the issue of Brexit with David Cameron, telling the British Prime Minister that China hoped to see a prosperous Europe and that Britain, as an important member of the EU, “can play an even more positive and constructive role in promoting the deepening development of China-EU ties.”

China has massively increased its investments in the EU over the last five years, totalling almost $23 billion in 2015 — ten times higher than in 2010. As an EU member state, Britain provides crucial access to the European economy and has become a favoured location for Chinese firms, with $29 billion in contracts and investment in this country since 2005. During Xi’s trip to Britain last year alone, £40 billion ($56.80 billion) in business deals were signed.

Chinese manufacturers who invest in Britain know they can get a foothold to sell to consumers throughout Europe. China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, has warned that a vote to leave the EU could force Chinese businesses operating in Britain to relocate, adding: “It’s easy to exit but hard to re-join. There are certainly many disadvantages if Britain exited the EU.”

There are indeed many disadvantages – the risk to prosperity, to security, to Britain’s place in the world – which is why it is so important that British Chinese people turn out on June 23rd and make sure they vote for a stronger, safer, more prosperous future for this country.

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