On February 18th 2021, the UK Society of Chinese Lawyers (UKSCL) held its annual Chinese New Year Reception online to celebrate the year of the Ox. The event was well supported by the UK community and was attended by over 100 people including its members.
Dr Xiaojiu Zhu MBE, President of the UKSCL, first addressed the guests with a welcome note. The Ox in Chinese culture represents strength, hard-work, and determination, and whilst the pandemic has affected us all, Dr Zhu believes this means we will only come back stronger as we embrace the characteristics of the Ox.
Dr Zhu in her welcome note gave thanks to the distinguished guests of the night, including Mr David Greene, President of the Law Society; Ms Stephanie Boyce, Vice-President of the Law Society, Mr Xuejun Tong, Minister Counsellor and Consul General from the Chinese Embassy; Ms Nickie Aiken, Member of Parliament for Cities of London and Westminster; Mr Xiaodong Yu, Director and General Manager of China Taipin Insurance UK Co Ltd; Jun Tong, Deputy Assistant General Manager of China Insurance UK Co Ltd; Madam Liang Xiao, Deputy General Manager and Chief Retail Banking Officer of Bank of China (UK) Limited; Ms Yan Wu, Manager of Chinatown Branch of Bank of China (UK) Limited; Mr Chuting Tang, Chairman of London Chinatown Chinese Association; Guangfeng Ren, CEO of UK Chinese Entrepreneurs; Feng Zhang, Chinese students and Scholars Association UK; Chen Li, Head of UK China Economic and Culture Promotion Association, along with other professional organisations, including the Chinese Association of Financial Executives in the UK and the UK Society of Chinese Accountants. Special thanks to K Education, technical support provider of the event.
David Greene, President of the Law Society, gave an enthusiastic speech as the first speaker of the night. Mr Greene drew comparisons between the legal profession and the characteristics of the Ox, such as honesty, hard work, and diligence, and expressed that Chinese lawyers in the UK have played a key role and have made outstanding contributions to the Chinese community in the UK. Mr Greene especially praised UKSCL’s weekly pro bono clinic at the Chinese Community Centre, and thanked all the Chinese lawyers who took part and made the weekly sessions possible.
Minister Counsellor and Consul General Mr Xuejun Tong thanked and applauded UKSCL’s contributions in the fight against the pandemic in the past year, and the positive effects in promoting anti-racism campaigns. Mr Tong further encouraged UKSCL to play a positive role and work with other organisations to foster the continued relationship between China and UK development.
Mr Xiaodong Yu, Director of China Taipin Insurance UK, delivered a speech on behalf of the Chinese enterprises in the UK. Mr Yu commented that Chinese companies in the UK are becoming more mature and diversified, and with investments between China and UK continuing to rise, UK is becoming the largest spot for Chinese investment in Europe. Mr Yu emphasised that Chinese companies in the UK maintain optimism in its long-term goals despite the pandemic. Looking ahead, Taiping Insurance will continue to provide reliable and professional services to Chinese companies, as it has done so in the past 35 years in the UK.
Ms Nickie Aiken, Member of Parliament for Cities of London and Westminster, though unable to attend the celebrations due to her parliamentary duties, recorded a special video for the event and wished everyone a happy New Year.
Lastly, Ms Ruihua Wang, Vice-President of the UKSCL, gave a summary of UKSCL’s achievements over the last two years. One of UKSCL’s aims is to promote legal education in the local Chinese community, and since February 2017, UKSCL runs a weekly pro-bono legal clinic at the Chinese Community Centre. This clinic plays an indispensable role in providing legal aid services for the Chinese community, and since the pandemic, this service has moved online to continue the weekly consultations without interruption. In 2019, UKSCL members held a lecture on ‘My Legal Practice Journey’ to visiting students from Beijing Normal University, in an effort to inspire more Chinese students to get involved in the legal profession. In October of the same year, UKSCL organised a panel discussion on the Hong Kong Basic Law. Ms Wang also highlighted that Dr Zhu was calling the returning Chinese from China to self-isolate for two weeks since February 2020 via YouTube and Chinese media, and organised an online anti-racism seminar in May 2020 with nearly nine thousand people attending, then the launch of the iCAAR (International Chinese Alliance Against Racism). In 2021, UKSCL will continue to cooperate with the Law Society of England & Wales to provide further service to the Chinese community in UK.
The evening celebration also included a raffle draw for UKSCL members who have previously volunteered at the pro-bono clinic as a token of appreciation and reward for their hard work. 10 lucky members were selected for an electrolysis sanitiser, provided by Aviair UK.
The evening of celebrations concluded with an array of musical performances, including ‘Good Luck Comes’ and ‘Uptown Funk’ by UK China Performing Arts, ‘Big Fish’ by the Divine Melody Choir, ‘Gongfu Fan’ by Deyin Tiajiquan Institute, and ‘Moonlight from Kekexili’ by London Chinese Philharmonic Choir.
This event was hosted by UKSCL committee member Lily Cheung and UKSCL member Kainan Liu, and came to an end with Dr Zhu’s closing remarks.
The virtual forum “One World, One World-How to Cope with Racial Discrimination in Epidemic Situations” recently brought together international Chinese communities via social media platform Wechat on the 23rd of May. By Jian Ping Sun
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial discrimination and hostile behaviours experienced by overseas Chinese and other ethnic minorities have soared. The UK Beijing Association, the UK Society of Chinese Lawyers, and the Roundtable of Southern California Chinese-American Organizations co-hosted a Wechat lecture to talk about responding positively to racial discrimination during the pandemic. Dr Zhu Xiaojiu MBE, President of the UK Society of Chinese Lawyers and Surrey Councillor Wang Xingang strongly advised pursuing legal action to definitively say no to racial discrimination.
Dr Zhu Xiaojiu gave an invaluable keynote to clarify the concept of racial discrimination for the audience from a legal and moral perspective. She encouraged the international audience to stand up together to safeguard the rights, interests, and dignity of overseas Chinese around the world. Responding passively strengthens the harmful impact of racial discrimination on society. Responding actively by reporting incidents to the police and taking legal action is part of everybody’s duty to protect themselves, their families and their society. Overseas Chinese are representatives of China and valuable contributors to their adopted country. Refusing to tolerate racism at an individual level protects the great strength and indomitable spirit of their motherland and safeguards the best interests of their adopted home. This novel virus does not distinguish between races and does not respect borders.
The number of reported cases is the essential statistic. Only when the statistic is significant will the government and local authorities take notice and respond with appropriate protection measures.
The most important way to report racism or hate crimes is to notify the police at the time of the incident or as soon as possible afterwards. This can include calling the police or making an online report. Chinese people in the London area can also directly contact the London Police Chinese and Southeast Asian Employees Association. If Chinese children encounter racial discrimination in the school, parents can report it to the school headteacher. If Chinese staffs encounter racial discrimination in the workplace, they can report it to their line manager and human resources.
Dr Zhu also encouraged overseas Chinese to get involved in their local communities to help the vulnerable and key workers during this pandemic. This could include delivering food and medicines to those who are shielding, fundraising for NHS staff welfare initiatives or sewing masks and scrubs for carers in nursing homes to name but a few ideas. Kindness and compassion speak louder than ignorance and hate.
Mr Wang Xingang, local councillor and Conservative campaigner, encouraged the audience to write to or email their local councillors and MPs about their experiences and seek support from charities. He re-emphasized racial discrimination is not only a criminal act but also a topical issue that MPs are deeply concerned about. Local MPs are elected to represent their constituents in parliament. Their job is to listen to their constituents’ concerns and to advocate for them. Chinese people need to inform their local MP of the racial discrimination happening currently in their community. Only when their MP is aware and fully informed can the MP appropriately address the issue to improve their community at a local and national level.
Speaking from his own leadership experiences in efforts to improve his local community, Wang Xingang reflected on successful integration into mainstream society. He encouraged Chinese people to take up volunteering and get involved with their local council and school governor boards.
Cases of racial discrimination in the UK have gradually increased over the past five years. From 2018 to 2019, there were 103,000 reported hate crime cases in the UK. Since the start of the COVID19 pandemic, reported crimes of xenophobia increased significantly. There were 360 crimes reported in 2019. There were 267 crimes in the first 3 months of the pandemic alone. Currently key UK legislature includes the Public Security Law, 1986. This includes 12 related laws to punish racial hatred and religious hatred. Under this law, the minimum prison sentence is 6 months and the maximum is 7 years. The “Crime and Disruption of Public Order Law” declared in 1998 included nine related laws to punish racial and religious discrimination, with an increase in the maximum period of imprisonment from 7 years to 14 years.
The third keynote was delivered by Ms Zhang Sujiu, the Honorary Chairman of the Roundtable of Southern California Chinese-American Organizations. She discussed current racial discrimination in the United States. Ms Zhang said that as the virus has spread to all part of the US, the inadequacy of the American government’s response has caused tremendous harm to its people. Currently, the number of infected patients and deaths in the United States account for one-third of the world’s death total. A group of prominent American politicians, including the US president, attempted to discredit China to evade responsibility for the consequences of their failure. They frequently used discriminatory, inflammatory terms such as “Chinese virus” and “Wuhan pneumonia” to concoct statements such as “the virus originated from the Wuhan Virus Research Institute” and “spread to the United States.” The US president played a direct role in aiding xenophobia to spread as fast as the virus throughout the US. Ms Zhang called on the international audience to challenge racial discrimination together.
Although COVID19 is a new disease, racial discrimination is an old disease that the world has long struggled to treat. International laws such as the United Nations’ International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the European Union’s European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom are well-established. Overseas Chinese are encouraged to seek help from the police and their local embassy if required. The law is on their side.
“One World in the World-How to Cope with Racial Discrimination in Pandemic Situations” was chaired by Li Hai, President of the UK Beijing Association, He Jianfei, Secretary of the Beijing Overseas Friendship Association and Zhang Jinlong, Chairman of the UK Chinese Business Association. Over 8000 Chinese people from around the world participated in this innovative event.
Ruihua Wang, associate at the London office of Linklaters, discusses the event celebrating the Chinese New year at the Law Society on 26 February.
Attended by over a hundred guests, the reception was opened by Dr. Xiaojiu Zhu, the chairwoman of UKSCL. The event had generous support from the Law Society, Bank of China, China Taiping Insurance and Cruickshanks Solicitors. Dr. Zhu addressed in her opening speech that the UK qualified Chinese lawyers play a unique and significant role in building stronger relationship between the two countries and particularly in better assisting language communication, culture integration and promoting legal awareness.
Mr. Rehman Chishti, Conservative member of parliament for Gillingham and Rainham, emphasized that the British government is very keen to develop a closer and stranger tie with China and they firmly believed that the Chinese community has made substantive contribution to the development of the UK society.
In counsellor Fei’s speech, he acknowledged the important role that UKSCL plays in developing better relationship in trade, investment, culture and legal communication between two countries. He also mentioned a number of notable initiatives of UKSCL.
Firstly, UKSCL has assisted the Chinese embassy in launching an online legal guide to equip the Chinese community and Chinese businesses with basic knowledge of the UK legal system, and how to live and work in the UK, and provided a legal database with Chinese speaking UK qualified legal specialities.
Secondly, UKSCL set up a joint Wechat group, which enables timely responses to enquiries from the Chinese citizens coming through the Chinese Embassy. Thirdly, counsellor Fei personally initiated an annual forum attended by 20 lawyers and 10 embassy staff discussing on how to better serve the Chinese community in the UK.
The message from Joe Egan, president of the Law Society, highlighted the positive contribution which Chinese lawyers make to the legal profession, both in the UK and internationally.
In the message from Rt Hon Mark Field MP, minister of state for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, he congratulated and commended UKSCL for the service it provides and the values it promotes.
Ms. Ruihua Wang, the deputy chairwoman of UKSCL, summarised the achievements of UKSCL in 2017 with three key phrases: bridging the gap, professionalism and social responsibility. The first key phrase ‘bridging the gap’ is demonstrated by actives that we organised for exchanging ideas between judiciary/lawyer in both UK and China. On May 19 2017, we had an in-depth discussion with a delegation from the prosecution service of Shan Xi province, China on topics in criminal procedural law such as sentence reduction, bailing. The second phrase ‘professionalism’ has been manifested by a well-received talk by Dr. Colin Ong, probably the only mandarin speaking Queen’s Counsel and a well-respected barrister and arbitrator. The talk focused on ‘how the Chinese business should conduct international commercial arbitration under China’s one belt one road initiative’ and was generously sponsored by Howard Kennedy LLP.
UKSCL also hosted an immigration law talk on 21 December 2018 by three members of UKSCL, specialists in immigration. The third key phrase ‘social responsibility’ is demonstrated by the legal aid programme lunched by UKSCL on 18 February 2017 at the Chinese Community Centre in London’s Chinatown, which provides free legal advice to the underprivileged people in the Chinese community.
Plans for the year ahead
UKSCL aims to expand the portion of the Chinese Community who can benefit from our pro bono service. We will reach out to Chinese students in London and small Chinese businesses and encourage them to access our service. We also have plans to give further lectures on topics such as employment law, landlords and tenants and family law, some of the most common topics we come across in the pro bono project.
UKSCL welcome suggestions and advice on how we can do a better job in expending our memberships, collaborating with other organisations and serving the wider society.
2018年2月26日，值此戊戌年中国农历新年之际，英国律师协会（The Law Society of England and Wales）华丽的会议大厅再一次迎来由英中律师协会 (the UK Society of Chinese Lawyers) 举办的一年一度的新年酒会。酒会在隆重且祥和的气氛下回顾了2017年英中律师协会所做的工作成果，并展望2018年工作计划。
本次新年酒会得到了英国各界人士的鼎力支持，与会人员高达百人以上，英国律师协会会议大厅在各界精英人士的簇拥下熠熠生辉。 英中律师协会会长朱小久博士致欢迎词并隆重介绍了到场贵宾: 英国政府现任执政党议会议员 Rehman Chishti、上议院议员在野党前工党议员 Lord Pendry、上议院议员在野党前自由民主党议员 Lord Cotter、中国大使馆费明星公使兼总领事、中国大使馆金旭公使兼参赞。与会来宾包括英中律师协会会员（大都为取得英国律师资格的华人华侨）、华人企业社团，商会，中国银行，中国在英公司各行各业的负责人和中文学校的代表，还有一些每年都会参加我们酒会的团体代表，如英国华人金融家协会，英中企业家协会，英华会计协会。本次酒会的顺利召开更是得益于本次活动赞助商的鼎力支持，他们是：英国律师协会、中国银行、中国太平、凯律师事务所。朱会长强调了华人律师在致力于推进中英全面交流时在语言沟通、文化融合以及法律支持方面所起到的独特且有效的桥梁作用。