Long-distance call

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 12:00am

Like many British-born Chinese with roots in the New Territories, Mark Wu Tung-sing grew up in a takeaway-food shop. His parents, who had emigrated from Hong Kong, worked every afternoon and evening, seven days a week, to expand their small North London business and earn enough to educate and provide for their three children.

'My brother and sister and I used to spend a lot of time in the shop,' he says. 'Many Chinese people are involved in the catering industry. I knew it wasn't just us. The problem with it is that you grow quite isolated from other Chinese, as every takeaway has to have its own catchment area. I grew up thinking, 'I don't want to do this'.'

Instead, Wu, 33, developed his skills in graphic and Web design ('as a child I was always drawing') into an interactive design company, with many side projects.

'We have been doing it for 10 years,' he says. 'We grew during the dotcom boom, then shrank with the bust.'

Along the way he became involved with British-Chinese groups such as social enterprise organisation The Pearl Foundation.

Having heard a group had failed in an attempt to create a British-Chinese Who's Who he saw an opportunity to create his own: a listing of Britain's Chinese achievers - and not just those in the fields of science, finance and catering.

'The Chinese are known as the silent majority,' he says. 'They don't make trouble, they don't say too much.'

Chinese are one of the largest demographic groups in Britain and are widely considered to be the most successful but few are high profile.

Launched in August 2007, Wu's website, Visible Chinese (visiblechinese.com), 'is partly to promote Chinese people who have made some achievements but haven't made it into the spotlight', he says. 'It's also good for the younger generation to try to find role models. I certainly didn't grow up knowing of many [high-profile Chinese] people, particularly outside of accounting and finance. [Now] they can see Chinese people achieving in all fields.'

Wu has also created a website for the BC Project, an organisation that seeks to increase Chinese participation in politics.

A regular visitor to his family village of Ting Kok, a few kilometres northeast of Tai Po, when he was growing up, Wu has recently returned to learn more about his roots and his culture, basing himself in the family home.

'I knew it wasn't just the place where we come for holidays. I knew it was my heritage,' he says.




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