British Chinese make up around 1% of the UK population. That is enough to populate over six parliamentary constituencies and elect six MPs. Yet in 2017 as in previous election the British Chinese voice will be heard less and be less represented in the House of Commons. This is because many British Chinese do not register to vote in elections or stand. We want to set out a number of reasons why we believe British Chinese should register and cast their vote for the General Election on June 8:
We are all privileged to live in a democracy which means that voting is the method by which we can decide who will make the laws and make international decisions on our behalf. Decisions such as those about the economy, education, security, international relations, immigration and health. These are important matters which impact our daily lives as a community and as a country and the British Chinese voice should be heard.
Spending a great deal of time with the British Chinese community we know that sometimes there is a reluctance to speak up and a preference to be self-contained. This is an admirable quality. The British Chinese community are amongst the most enterprising, best educated, most healthy and most self-reliant of any of the wonderful mix of ethnic communities that call Britain their home.
We understand this instinct for self-reliance but sometimes this can be wrongly interpreted as not being interested. We know that is far from the truth as so many British Chinese play a positive role in our communities but registering to vote and voting we believe is a way of demonstrating that we are both proud of our Chinese roots but engaged in our British home.
There is another reason for registering to vote and voting and that is to make sure our voice is heard in public debate and the specific needs of our community are not overlooked. Most politicians of whatever political party are elected because they want to serve their community, but it is in human nature that they may be more inclined to listen more to those individuals and communities who will have a say in their re-election and who make their voices heard.
In recent years the profile of the Chinese in Britain is growing and people are taking notice. The UK government have called for a ‘Golden Era in UK-China Relations’. Chinese students are by far the largest community of overseas students attending British universities. Chinese tourists are arriving in growing numbers as are business investors. The Chinese New Year Celebrations in Trafalgar Square are now the largest outside of Asia. There is tremendous goodwill and appreciation of the British Chinese community and a good way to demonstrate that we care about where we live is to register to vote.
The process of registering to vote takes just five minutes and can be done online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Once registered you can choose to vote by post if that is easier. Remember that registering to vote is public, you will appear on the Electoral Register, but how you vote in any election is something that no-one should know unless you choose to tell them.
You have until May 22nd to ensure that at this election the British Chinese community is not just seen but heard.