John Chan is a founding member of the Democratic Party, and also of its predecessor, the United Democrats of Hong Kong. A keen observer of local politics, he has been a regular commentator in the local press since the late 1980s. He worked briefly as a civil servant in the colonial government before turning to law. As a solicitor, he worked extensively on the mainland during the early years of China’s economic reform, where he gained an in-depth understanding of China's political, economic and social development.