Few British Chinese registered to vote

LONDON, June 29, 2006 (AFP) – As many as one in three ethnic Chinese in Britain are not on the nation’s electoral register, a conference on getting the Chinese community more politically involved was told Thursday.

 Citing data from the Electoral Commission, Elections Minister Bridget Prentice said that, at 30 percent, ethnic Chinese had the second-lowest registration rate after blacks of Caribbean origin.

"We must unite to promote, to educate, to raise awareness and to encourage the British Chinese community to participate and to exercise their rights and contribute to the building and strengthening of our democracy," she said.

Some 250,000 ethnic Chinese live in Britain, according to census figures, representing 0.42 percent of the total population. Many have family roots in Hong Kong, a British colony before its 1997 handback to China.

The figure excludes a growing number of mainland Chinese who are not British citizens and therefore have no right to vote.