The Chinese community of Newcastle is deepening its contribution to politics at the local level in the city of northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Figures from the Chinese Embassy indicate that around 10,000 people of Chinese descent live in KwaZulu-Natal, including 3,000 in Newcastle.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) adviser in Newcastle Chuan-yi Liu is from Taiwan.
In the video below, the IFP campaigns in KZN:
He came to South Africa in 1993 at the age of 25 to join his parents who were already in the country.
Twelve years later, he obtained his South African nationality. The Liu family business makes clothes.
So, he says, when he left Taiwan, he never imagined he would enter the world of politics. His journey with politics began in 2006 when he joined the National Democratic Convention (Nadeco).
The party was formed by former IFP chairman Ziba Jiyane. But following a series of internal problems, Nadeco lost all of his national and provincial seats in the 2009 general election. It was at this point that Liu joined the IFP.
âI was not involved in politics, even still in Taiwan, because I think that due to my age, when I arrived in South Africa at the age of 25, I had no experience of politics. My participation in politics also happened by accident when my father’s friend asked me to participate in politics. I think at first I joined Nadeco, and eventually I realized that by gaining more knowledge about Nadeco politics, we then joined IFP in 2016. â
Soon after, Liu became the public relations adviser of the IFP in the Municipality of Newcastle, only the second person of Chinese descent in the municipality after Shiaan-Bin Huang who became the deputy mayor on the ticket of the ‘African National Congress (ANC) after initially crossing the IFP floor.
Now Liu says South Africa is his home and its Chinese people are there to add value to the economy and the political landscape.
âNewcastle has become a very unique place. Many of us see this as our home now. It is also my country and for me it is important to contribute and express our opinion and we hope that we can improve this country and very important for our future generation. Many members of our Chinese community have already had second and third generations in this country. “
The decision to involve people who are not from that country in political leadership has received mixed reactions from some Newcastle residents.
While some believe that South African Chinese should participate in all political activities, others have reservations.
Despite Liu’s commitment, Newcastle residents remain divided over who is not of South African descent involved in politics.
“They are doing well. We are happy with them. It is also a free country. Those who run their businesses help to create jobs for our brothers and sisters. It will be very bad if they are elected because they do not understand the plight and way of life of our township people. So it is a challenge to take a person from China and Taiwan and elect them as an advisor. We need people who understand our challenges. I suspect that these people infiltrate political parties through their leaders to obtain positions that allow them to advance their own interests. “
Liu is on the IFP’s public relations candidate list for this year’s local election.
During the party’s campaign in Newcastle, he reiterated his firm pride in the strong work ethic, culture and financial expertise of the Chinese community.