Yan’s wonderful honour

Our colleague Dr Yan Wu was recently elected the Chair for Chinese in Wales of Association. As the new Chair, Yan made a speech at the event hosted by the organization’s charity at Swansea Grand Theatre. We reproduce her speech below – a wonderful example of how our department and wider university connects with the local community, making contributions to a culturally diverse and inclusive Wales…

Dear HM Lord Lieutenant Mrs Fleet, Lord Mayor Cllr Day, Mrs Lee, Mrs Au-Yeung, our distinguished guests, and beloved friends,

It gives me great honour to be introduced by Mrs Au-Yeung, the founder and current CEO of Chinese in Wales Association (CIWA) as the new Chair. My name is Yan Wu, I’m an Associate Professor in Media and Communication Studies at Swansea University.

CIWA was founded by Mrs Au-Yeung five years ago, but its history can be traced back to the Swansea Chinese Community Co-op Centre, set up by Mrs Wai Fong Lee in the 1990s. I first met Mrs Au-Yeung and Mrs Lee in 2005 as a research student at Cardiff University. I came to Swansea for the first time that year and interviewed them about civic participation of ethnic minority communities for a European Commissions’ research project. Little did I know that 2 years after that interview, I would be offered a lectureship at Swansea University, and 17 years later, I’m standing here as the new Chair.

CIWA has grown tremendously under Mrs Au-Yeung’s effective leadership since 2017. The past two and half years was most challenging when our society faced forces of division caused by Brexit, COVID, racism, and the War. CIWA members worked tirelessly to bring empathy, understanding, support, and solidity to our society. As a charitable organization, CIWA has not only made transformative changes in the lives of ethnic Chinese, but also plays a positive role in enhancing diversity, equality, and inclusivity in Wales. In return, CIWA has been whole-heartedly supported by the Swansea Council, Race Council Cymru, Welsh Government, and the broader Welsh society.

As CIWA’s new chair, I see my role as continuing the legacy left by Mrs Lee and Mrs Au-Yeung to build CIWA as an embodiment of ‘cultural China’ in Wales. What consists of a cultural China in Wales? Based on Harvard scholar Tu Weiming’s theories, I see a ‘cultural China’ consists of ‘three symbolic universes’. The first symbolic universe consists of ethnic Chinese from geographical entities such as mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. The second symbolic universe consist of the Chinese diaspora worldwide. The third symbolic universe consists of non-ethnic Chinese whose linguistic interests, intellectual pursuits, or professional activities contribute to their understanding of, and engagement with, Chinese culture and heritage. By working closely with the CEO, CIWA members and other public, private, and charitable bodies in Wales, I aim to create channels of communication, build platforms for dialogue, and bring people together. Today’s Chinese Cultural Heritage Day is one of the examples showcasing the dynamic of a cultural China in Wales. I hope you enjoy the show and have a great day.

Thank you very much!

Dioch yn fawr!

Fei chang gan xie!

Do ze nei ge gu lai!

Yan and the Lord Mayor