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Chinese teenager seeks votes in Euro poll
By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-05-09 08:51

Like many Chinese immigrants of his generation and before, Steven Cheung was thrown deep into the vastly different culture of the West and expected to adjust fast.

Chinese teenager seeks votes in Euro poll

Eight years later, the 19-year-old has not only settled well into his new London home, but he wants to help other Chinese residents do the same by being the first person of Chinese ethnicity in the UK to stand for election to the European Parliament.

Born to a Chinese father and Filipino mother in Hong Kong, Cheung left the special administrative region for the United Kingdom when he was 11.

The Cambridge University freshman, who turns 20 in October, speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, English and Tagalog.

He remembers the challenges he faced upon his arrival in Britain, similar to ones faced by many Chinese people when they land on foreign shores.

"I faced discrimination due to my skin color when I first came here. I was the only Chinese in the classroom," Cheung told China Daily on Friday.

He solved the problem himself by introducing Chinese culture to his classmates, teaching them simple Chinese words.

A year-and-a-half ago, when Cheung started to work as a DJ at Spectrum, a multi-ethnic radio station in London, he was reminded of his problems as a new arrival when he began receiving calls from Chinese people in London.

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"I can understand the issues Chinese people face in the UK, but they have no one to help them. That's one of the reasons why I decided to run for election," he said.

Cheung's achievements reflect his early ambition to make a difference for his community.

After being accepted by Cambridge last year, Cheung decided instead to take a year off from his studies to do social work.

He was chosen to be the London 2012 Olympic Ambassador for the London borough of Waltham Forest and appointed by the British Ministry of Justice as one of its young advisors. Cheung is also a winner of the 2009 Princess Diana Award, an accolade for young people who make a difference to their community.

"The slogan for my campaign is peace. I want to show that it is possible for people from different cultures to live together and respect each other. I believe that the Chinese can be a minority yet still have their voices heard," he said.

Cheung will run as an independent candidate on a platform that includes calling on the European Union to lift its embargo on some Chinese goods.

"In theory anyone 18 or over can run for a seat in parliament, but that is just theory," said Cheung.

"For too long, important decisions which affect the future of young people have been made for us, without any representation from young people," he said.

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