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Date: 17 July 2018 | Time: 18:00 to 19:30 | Venue: Committee Room 8, Palace of Westminster, London SW1A 0AA

Speaker: Helen Goodman MP, Shadow Foreign Minister
Chair: Sonny Leong CBE, Chair, Chinese for Labour

Britain and China have a long and complex relationship, from the First Opium War of 1839 to negotiations over the reversion of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty from 1980 to 1997. The state visit to the UK by President Xi Jinping in October 2015 marked a sea change in UK-China relations. Is this really the “Golden Era” in China-UK relations?

Sino-British relations have long been a roller-coaster ride. There are many thorny issues, including human rights, Tibet, the freedoms of Hong Kong, and regional and global security.

UK had not formally endorsed China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI is Xi Jinping’s most important international relations strategy, designed to cement China’s influence over Asia, the Middle East and beyond. Will the UK, or indeed the next Labour Government formally endorse this initiative?

Trade with China looks like the top prize to a Britain heading for the Brexit – will a Labour Government continue this trend?

How will a Labour Government formulate its policies on relations with China on human rights, Tibet, freedoms and democracy rights in Hong Kong?

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Helen Goodman MP is the Labour Party’s Shadow Foreign Minister with responsibility for the Americas and East Asia. She has represented the Bishop Auckland constituency in County Durham since 2005, winning three consecutive elections. In the last Labour Government, Helen served as Deputy Leader of the House and as a Minister at the Department of Work and Pensions.

As a Shadow Foreign Minister, Helen has lead for the Labour Party on the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, where she successfully pushed for the implementation of “Magnitsky” amendments that look to sanction gross human rights abusers. Helen has also been leading for HM’s Opposition on the Rohingya crisis, where she has pressed the UK Government to take more action to halt the ethnic cleansing campaign and to tackle the root causes of the issue.

Before becoming an MP, Helen worked in HM Treasury as a fast stream administrator holding many posts including on the Energy Desk, the Exchange Rate Desk, Central Budget Unit and Overseas Finance, before finally becoming the Head of Strategy.

In 1990–91, she was seconded to the Office of the Czechoslovak Prime Minister to advise on their economic transition after the Velvet Revolution.

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Sino-British Relations – What next?

Date: 17 July 2018 | Time: 18:00 to 19:30 | Venue: Committee Room 8, Palace of Westminster, London SW1A 0AA Speaker: Helen Goodman MP, Shadow Foreign MinisterChair: Sonny Leong CBE,...

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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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