Updated: Apr 14, 2022
Two of CARG's core team members were alleged to be bias due to past association with events and organisations that were deemed pro-China and anti-democracy by some people. CARG after some deliberation has decided that we need to present their side of the stories as the allegations, innuendos and smearing by the press and social media are not true.
When did you first realise that geo-political tensions around China can have negative impacts on the political and civic life of British Chinese people?
In 2015, during a Chinese state visit to the UK, there were pro-Tibet independence and pro-China demonstrations. I was helping the police translate their requests into Chinese to help defuse tensions and see that the police are being understood and listened to. I was accused by pro-Tibetan Independence protesters of being one of the organisers “working hand-in-glove with the Chinese while they attempt to outflank free speech in the UK is a sign of how irrelevant human rights objections to the Communist party of China are in our governing party.”
However, this baseless accusation was widely covered without grounds while no proper investigation into it was ever undertaken and this allegation is now a permanent stain on my character unchallenged and uncorrected.
Being British Born Hong Kong Chinese, a magistrate, and a member of Amnesty International, it is incredibly frustrating that the press is too easily able to make accusations which are so far from the truth, all caveated by the word alleged, which then remains in the public domain.
More recently, when the UK Security Services alleged that Christine Lee was attempting to influence parliament on behalf of China, other people of Chinese heritage were tainted by association, especially young British Chinese who were involved in the British Chinese Project.
I was accused unfairly and again without grounds of variously being an agent for the Chinese Government or facilitating fundraising for or a part of something untoward. Despite the press stating clearly that there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by myself, the inference made out by the press is clearly guilty until proven innocent. These further allegations of improper association with an alleged ‘China Spy’, once again made is impossible to get corrected or removed.
Christine Lee was the Chair of an organisation, the British Chinese Project. I was pictured with Christine Lee in front of no.10 in 2018 when we were invited with hundreds of other Chinese Community Leaders for Chinese New Year. I joined BCP in 2011 as the vice chair as I agreed with its efforts to promote the integration and representation of the British Chinese Community in the UK Via voter registration. BCP did some brilliant work with fundraising for Chinese community centres, for the Sichuan earthquake in China, raise issues faced by international students, the under reporting of crimes by the Chinese community and built on the Stephen Lawrence recommendations. BCP also promoted cultural events such as Mid-Autumn Festival, and even helped gather volunteers for the London Olympics for London China Town. I left in 2015 when I got elected as a Conservative councillor in Birmingham which made my work for a cross party group less compatible.
I have spoken out against human rights abuses in Xinjiang Province in Council, am a member of Amnesty International and as a HK Chinese have been helping HK BNO’s arriving to Britain settle and get the support they need through HKUK Welcome.
The Birmingham Chinese Community is small and everyone knows each other. Being of Chinese heritage does not mean that we all automatically are CPC members as assumed by the press to sensationalise a story without regard to the impact to the lives and futures they are slandering. The way they covered these stories however fuels a ‘them and us’ narrative dividing the community along racist East and Southeast Asian heritage and White British lines.
Thank you, Alex, for your frankness in answering my questions.
The interview was conducted and written up by Dr Yeow Poon between March and April 2022. The content expressed in the interviews do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CARG and any of its members or supporters.