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News / Integration of Chinese Britain: Why Political Participation Matters

Integration of Chinese Britain: Why Political Participation Matters

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F&BF Communications

05 / 06 / 18

Gunan Shang, University of Manchester ParliaMentors team

On April 29th, I was invited to speak at the UK-China Exchange Forum Event titled ‘Integration of Chinese in Britain: Why Political Participation Matters’ in Manchester. I was also joined by Prof Peter Gries, Director of the Manchester China Institute and Dr Shengke Zhi. Dr Zhi was a Chinese Conservative candidate for Stretford Ward for the 2018 local election. We were invited to speak on a panel discussion on Chinese political participation in Britain. The event (based in Manchester) was also an opportunity to share my involvement with the ParliaMentors programme (with the Faith & Belief Forum).

Gunan taking part in a panel at the UK-China Exchange Forum

The Chinese community is currently the third largest ethnic minority group in the UK. Although British Chinese have started to break the political glass ceiling, there is still a long way to go in reflecting the British Chinese community in the House of Commons and in other political institutions. During the forum event, I explained the importance of Chinese political participation in Britain from two perspectives. The leadership in UK Parliament is slowly becoming more diverse, but it is still dominated by older white men, demonstrating there is still a lack of diversity in Parliament. Additionally, (particularly in recent times) there has been a crisis in leadership across political parties. People are increasingly feeling that politicians do not represent them and politics in the UK is too London-centric. We can change the current situation by developing leaders from ethnic minority groups and making political leaders more representative.

ParliaMentor Gunan with the attendees of the UK-China Exchange Forum

I also spoke about my involvement in ParliaMentors and other programmes and events with the Faith & Belief Forum. This includes a series of high quality trainings, undertaking the social change project on student safety in Manchester and the ParliaMentor officer tutoring. I was able to share the fantastic experience of visiting Westminster and attending meetings with our MP mentor, William Wragg. Some of the great experiences I have been able to partake in include the House of Commons Ministerial Debate on European Council, attending the Health & Social Care/Housing, and partaking in the Communities and Local Government Select Committee (on long term funding of adult social care). I shared my understanding of politics in the UK with the attendees of the event, most of whom are from Manchester colleges and universities and the local Chinese community. In the panel discussion, many of the students asked about my experience as a ParliaMentor and details of embarking on a journey into UK politics.

For a long time, the local Chinese community has been somewhat silent and have largely stayed on the outskirts of the British political process. But in the past ten years, an increasing engagement of the British Chinese community in political events has been witnessed, and more and more have realised the importance of making their voice heard in their host society. With the increased Chinese investment in the UK and Europe, the British political parties also realise the necessity of engaging and involving the local British Chinese community.

I am thrilled to see that the new generation of British Chinese have shown great interest in  political participation in Britain. Every political leader should give every citizen a better sense of belonging. We look to the future and anticipate a more dynamic, diverse and representative Parliament.

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