Chinese Labour Corp

The story behind the Chinese Labour Corp is being displayed at the Chinese Community Centre in Digbeth for a few weeks before being moved to Birmingham Library. It tells of one of the least recognised contributions towards the First World War.

In July 1916, some 50,000 labourers  came over from China after a three month journey. Many did not survive the journey. A total of some 100,000 Chinese workers joined the British Chinese Labour Corp supporting the allied war effort.

They were told they would be in non-combatant roles and far from the front lines but as the war progressed without end, their roles grew.

Mainly aged 20-35, the labourers were set about building munition depots, carrying munitions to support front line troops, or repairing supply lines, unloading ships, repairing trenches, roads and railways. At the end of the war they were used for mine clearance, and for a long time after the end of the war, they recovered bodies of soldiers and reinterred into the neat rows we see today, and filled in miles of trenches. Dangerous, hard and remitting work.

They worked ten hour days, 7 days a week, with only three days three holidays. Many went on working till 1920. Many thousands died from disease, a flu epidemic which spread across camps, enemy action or wounds. An estimated 10,000 died. However, some say the number was as high as 20,000.

Tragically at the end of the war, a giant canvas exhibited in Paris at the end of the war- which was at the time the largest painting in the world- showed a victorious France surrounded by her allies. The Chinese workers, whose contribution undoubtedly helped the war effort was literally painted out to allow for the arrival of the United States

Called the forgotten of the forgotten. Britain has over 40,000 war memorials, not a single one is dedicated to the Chinese Labour Corps. An effort led by Steve Lau of the Ensure We Remember CLC Campaign is leading efforts to properly recognise that we indeed remember.


China West Midlands UK

Honoured to be invited to speak at the CWM2020 dinner alongside Cllr Ian Ward, Birmingham City Council Leader, Beverly Nielsen from Birmingham City University, Paul Faulkner, Chamber of Commerce and many other distinguished guests.

“China will soon be the biggest economy in the world. It holds a fifth of the world’s population and has a distinctive cultural inheritance. Although the West Midlands has good connections with China, we can all benefit from further developing this relationship by celebrating and strengthening the economic, social and cultural ties between China and the West Midlands.”


We envisaged that throughout 2020 there will be a series of events with China related elements at various times and in different places, starting with the Chinese New Year 2020 and finishing with Chinese New Year 2021. For example, museums, theatres and art centres in the region that could run exhibitions and shows with a cross-cultural China theme. Similarly, the universities, schools, sports clubs, community organisations and business groups could run seminars and events during the year. The various local authorities could invite their twin cities in China to visit and participate in the events. All these China related events can be badged as China West Midlands 2020. The key message CWM2020 wants to convey during the preparation stage in 2018/19 and in 2020 is the strengthening of connections in business, education, culture, arts and sports for deeper understanding, greater collaboration and mutual prosperity between the West Midlands and China.

CWM2020 was started by the Chinese Community Centre, Birmingham Business Focus and Birmingham China Business Forum, with it’s steering group consisting of Julian Lloyd-Webber (Chair), Beverley Nielsen, Didi Xiao, Debbie Jagla, Peter Cannon, Bill Good, Yeow Poon and myself. It’s aims and ambitions have been endorsed by Andy Street the West Midlands Combined Authority Mayor.

Strong community leaders working together supporting the future of the region.

Hosting a Chinese International Delegation in Birmingham

Proud to host a delegation from the Chinese Legislative Affairs from China in Birmingham with the Lord Mayor Cllr Mosquito. They spent their time in our city and prominent members of the Birmingham Chinese Community asking about our systems, democratic processes and the challenges between National legislation and local decision makings. Very informative for all attending and further building relations.

Home for Good- Chinese Community Centre Birmingham

35686644_10156577178487112_434601942476390400_oDelighted to be part of wonderful civic leaders and generous donors including the Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr Yvonne Mosquito, Dr Yeow Poon, Bill Good, Marcus Hawley, the ever generous James Wong, Wellington Yau, and Anna Yim. Over the one evening we raised over £10,000 for a brilliant cause led by the CCC-B. The money will go to help the centre facilitate the speedy return of elderly Chinese people from hospital back home supporting their long term recovery and freeing up vitally needed beds at hospital.


Thank you for the generosity of so many and the generosity of so many including James at the Chung Ying for hosting.

British Chinese Crime Survey

A few nights ago my parents forwarded two videos of a burglary aftermath- ransacked rooms, distressed voices in the background, lives scarred by such a personal, deliberate and targeted intrusion into their lives.

burlgary.jpgI then separately received it from two friends on social media followed by a call from a resident in my ward demanding what I was going to do about it. They were all from Chinese families. One resident told me that one of the burglars caught had a pocket book of other addresses- all of Chinese addresses.

Even if it was not true, it showed the fear in the community. I asked a friend who spent hours translating a survey into Chinese for me and put it online asking British Chinese people across the country for their thoughts and experiences. If they have suffered from criminality in the past few years, they needed to stand up and let it be known so the authorities know about it and to push for something more  to be done

In only a few days we have received hundreds of

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The forgotten of the Forgotten


More than 100,000 Chinese men volunteered for the Chinese Labour Corps with the first arriving in the West in 1917 often doing the most dangerous tasks, moving ammunition, clearing bodies, trench digging. They were contracted to work for three years, 10 hours a week for 7 days a week with only 3 days off a year. A significant number died and are buried in commonwealth war graves. In France one such cemetery has inscribed on headstones the proverb ‘Faithful unto death’, ‘A good reputation endures forever’, ‘A noble duty bravely done’ and ‘Though dead he still liveth’.

Not heard of them? You are unlikely to be alone. Their contribution is rarely recognised in Read More