CLDs’ novel Lunar New Year celebrations  

February 18, 2021 9:17 AM
By Merlene Emerson

Sir Vince Cable MPOver the last 15 years, a fixture on the CLD calendar has been our Lunar New Year dinner celebrations, usually ushered in by loud drumming and cymbals which accompany a lion dance, and always a sumptuous 8 course meal, crowned by an after-dinner address by a distinguished LibDem speaker.

This year, however, due to Covid 19, we had to hold it virtually on Saturday 13 Feb via Zoom, but it was no less exciting and memorable. Our key note speaker was none other than Sir Vince Cable, who had recently published his timely book on the rise of China entitled "China: Engage!". He provided a sweeping account of his previous engagements with China, from his time as an economist with Shell, to his years as Business Secretary. I personally recall accompanying him on one of his China trips as part of his business delegation circa 2012.

China, he said, has developed an economic model - State Capitalism - that has succeeded not only in raising living standards, encouraged a lively private sector, provided efficient consumer service and retail market as well as reformed the public sector. It ranks 22nd on the list of countries for "Ease of doing business" above France, Italy and Japan.

Whilst Vince was more than aware of the criticisms levelled at this growing super power on its human rights record, from HK to Xinjiang, he advocates a moderate approach akin to the "Merkel model" of working with China, in order to help solve the world's problems, ranging from climate change, to the current Covid pandemic to debt in Africa.

We were pleased to have had two Mayoral candidates join Vince on the speakers' panel, introduced by our host Cllr Sarah Cheung Johnson. First, Luisa Porritt, the LibDem London Mayoral candidate and then Jenny Wilkinson, Mayoral Candidate for West Midlands. They spoke about their strategies for taking their respective cities and region forward, in reviving the local economy and in tackling racism and inequality.

There then followed a lively Q&A and 2 real time polls:
One, on whether attendees agreed with the Libdem policy position vis a vis China, (21% Yes, 11% No and 68% Don't Know), and
the second, on whether UK should boycott the Olympics in Beijing (29% Yes, 43% No and 29% Don't Know).

Finally, Dr Yeow Poon Chair of CLDs, brought the break out and plenary sessions to a close thanking the speakers, all members and supporters. Happy New Year of the Ox to one and all!

(Editor: a video recording of the event is available for viewing by request to info@chineselibdems.org.uk)