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Massive congratulations to our successful elected Councillors

  • Bora Kwon - Ravenscourt Park,  Hammersmith & Fulham Council
  • Vincent Lo - Fryent, Brent Council
  • Jumbo Chan - Kensal Green, Brent Council
  • David Chung, Longthornton, Merton Council

Congratulations to our succesful candidates

Massive congratulations to our successful elected Councillors Bora Kwon - Ravenscourt Park,  Hammersmith & Fulham Council Vincent Lo - Fryent, Brent Council Jumbo Chan - Kensal Green, Brent Council David Chung,...

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By Konrad Shek, Executive Committee Member, Chinese for Labour @konradshek

The work that Action on Salt is doing is commendable, raising awareness about excessive salt levels in food. We could all do more to reduce our salt intake but I have to say it makes for distinctly uncomfortable reading when I see headlines like “Chinese meals should carry a health warning” (http://www.actiononsalt.org.uk/news/surveys/2018/salt-awareness-week-survey/)

Seriously? Born in the UK to an ethnic Chinese family, I’ve been raised on Chinese food for most of my life. Does that mean I am on death row or on a one-way ticket to high blood pressure hell?

Okay I admit some Chinese foods can be salty, particularly some of the preserved foods, but to say Chinese food on the whole is excessively salty - well I say that’s just a symptom of bad cooking rather than a characteristic of Chinese cuisine per se. Moreover, anyone who has a basic understanding of Chinese cuisine knows that soy sauce is high in sodium. It’s a flavour enhancer used for cooking or as a dipping sauce like you would use Worcester sauce - it was never meant to be something you drench your rice or noodles in.

But if we are talking about excessive salt levels in takeaway food, why just single out Chinese food? I’m sure quite a few of you out there have tasted some salty Indian takeaways, pizzas and kebabs in your lifetime. To justify this on the basis that it is the country’s most popular takeaway just seems flimsy.

Action on Salt’s press release is well written and gives the impression that their research was thorough. So, it surprised me to find in the notes section that the research was based on a sample size on just six restaurants in London’s Chinatown. They also claimed that this data gave a good representation of the typical salt values in Chinese restaurants across the country. Getting accurate figures on how many Chinese takeaways or restaurants in the UK is quite difficult but one could safely assume that it numbers in the thousands. Any decent statistician worth their salt (excuse the pun!) would tell you that six out of several thousand is statistically insignificant. Worrying still, they claimed that the restaurants were chosen at random, but one of the random restaurants still included Wong Kei’s which to my mind makes it less of a random sample. Wong Kei’s isn’t a restaurant that I frequent or necessarily recommend but it is known among certain circles for being value for money and back in its heyday it had the notorious reputation for being one of the restaurants with the rudest service (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/feb/24/rudest-restaurant-london-wong-kei). I ask Action on Salt that if they have ever visited good Chinese restaurants such as Royal China, Phoenix Palace or Michelin starred Hakksan? Should their customers be greeted with health warning signs on entry or will Action on Salt admit that their sampling area didn’t extend more than a radius of 500m?

I guess the biggest kick in the proverbial nuts is the association of supermarket Chinese style ready meals with Chinese cuisine. When has anyone seen a Chinese person shop for Tesco’s Chow Mein or an Iceland Slimming World Chinese Style Banquet Rice, which by the way is half a kilo of rice, for that matter? You would need to have some appetite to consume half a kilo of rice! Anyway, surely supermarket ready meals having excessive salt is exactly that - ready meals having too much salt - why make it about Chinese food specifically?

I guess this all boils down to whether this is a case of singling out Chinese restaurants because they are an easy target and there is little risk that the industry would vociferously defend its interests. After all the Chinese in the UK are the silent community, right? The point of writing this article was basically to say no we are not. We are willing to speak up against injustices and insensitivities. I just hope that Action on Salt would be brave enough to admit that their study and press release was done in poor taste otherwise they may lose credibility on the very thing they are trying to campaign against - too much salt everywhere!

Taking Health Warnings on Chinese Food with a Pinch of Soy Sauce

By Konrad Shek, Executive Committee Member, Chinese for Labour @konradshek The work that Action on Salt is doing is commendable, raising awareness about excessive salt levels in food. We could...

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By Helen Goodman MP, Shadow Foreign Minister for China

In recent weeks, many of us have enjoyed celebrations for the Chinese New Year at the start of the Year of the Dog, and Jeremy Corbyn spoke at a fabulous dinner organised by Chinese for Labour.

One of the personality traits of somebody born in the Year of the Earth Dog is resilience; as long as I work hard and do not give up, I will be successful.

In some ways, this reflects the story of the Chinese community in the UK.

There are about 7,000 Chinese-owned businesses in almost every corner of our country, making the Chinese community one of the most successful in Britain.

And then there are the cultural contributions. From Chinatowns in London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool to contributions to our creative industries to the revolutions inspired in British kitchens, the Chinese community in the UK has transformed our country for the better.

But this community, around half-a-million strong, has also made many valuable contributions to our Party, through generous donations to tireless canvassing at local and general elections in typically wet, British weather to representing the party at councillor level.

I, as the Shadow Foreign Minister with responsibility for China, would very much like to see a Chinese Labour MP soon.

As China continues to grow as a nation, it extends its connections with countries all over the globe, some of which have not had the pleasure of having a Chinese community. By doing so, it extends Chinese culture, introducing others to its language, its food, its people and its values.

However, Chinese culture is not monolithic. Each Chinese territory has a unique culture, from Beijing to Hong Kong to Taipei. But it is these peculiarities which make Chinese culture so rich. And it is this variety which must be protected and encouraged. The best way to do so is to give them the space and the freedom to flourish. An enriched China is an enriched world.

I am interesting in hearing the different stories and perspectives of members of Chinese for Labour.

The Tories’ failed austerity programmes have alienated many across the country, and run down community centres across the country including those to which members of the Chinese community have made significant contributions.

As we face local elections in the coming months, it will be important for all who share Labour values to do as much as we can to keep our seats and gain new seats. And I am sure that the Chinese Labour community will contribute as much as possible to this aim, as it always has.

I wish all Chinese people in Britain a very happy new year, and hope that their successes may long continue.

The Chinese community in the UK has transformed our country for the better

By Helen Goodman MP, Shadow Foreign Minister for China In recent weeks, many of us have enjoyed celebrations for the Chinese New Year at the start of the Year of...

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