Britain’s Chinese back Theresa May and remain wary of Labour, Chinatown head says

Tang Chu-ting points to Tories’ economic policies, while warning about impact of post-Brexit immigration plans

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 June, 2017, 11:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 June, 2017, 1:21pm

Chinese living in London are “predominantly in support” of Prime Minister Theresa May as they have little favour in Labour’s welfarist vision of Britain, a leading Chinese business leader said. “The Chinese here take very little money from the government,” said Tang Chu-ting, president of the London Chinatown Chinese Association.

While the Chinese community may be small, it yields a remarkable economic and cultural influence. Chinatown activities, for instance, are occasionally presided over by members of the royal family, Tang said.

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The main concern Chinese voters have are about economic policies, according to Tang, and they found Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s tax plans alarming. According to the Labour manifesto, his government would increase income tax for the highest 5 per cent of earners, with no increases for those earning below £80,000 (HK$804,000) a year.

It also plans to raise corporation tax, now 19 per cent, to 26 per cent by 2020-21 and introduce a lower rate for small businesses.

“For Chinese, Labour’s proposals are totally unappealing,” Tang said. But Tang, who emigrated from Hong Kong in the 1970s, noted that the Conservative Party’s immigration plans were also worrying.

Theresa May’s Brexit plans are still vague, but she has indicated that immigration will be slashed to “tens of thousands”.

“For labour intensive industries that Chinese are engaged in, such as catering, this will have a catastrophic result,” Tang said.

The quota for Asian immigrants should be relaxed a bit if those from European Union countries, in particular Eastern European ones, are severely slashed, he said.

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A total of seven ethnic Chinese candidates are taking part in this year’s parliamentary election – down from 11 last time.

“While Chinese people are generally lukewarm in political participation, they are increasingly aware of the importance of casting their ballots,” Tang said. “That is an important way to have a say in shaping policies that affect them.”

Looking at Sino-British relations, Tang said he was confident the “golden era” sealed by President Xi Jinping and Britain’s leaders would “irreversibly” continue. “Given the current economic situation it will hardly be possible for UK to stay away from cooperating with China.”