CIAC was founded in September 1982 by the merging of several existing Chinese groups in London, each of which had several years of community work experience. A Sunday advice service was established, pamphlets were published covering areas of social policy, and the group generally acted as a resource to both statutory and voluntary agencies in the London area.

Six months later, the Ethnic Minorities Unit of the Greater London Council (GLC) approached the group and asked for help in organising a consultative conference, the aim of which was to explain the GLC’s policies to Chinese community groups and for community members to air their views.

On October 1st 1983, just a year after it began, CIAC became an independent centre, with the help of grants from the GLC.

CIAC’s community development and women’s project work have been fairly wide ranging in the past and the Centre has also played a key role in campaigns around such issues as racial harassment, workers’ rights and domestic violence. Conferences have been organised in response to the Home Affairs Committee Report (1985); on racial attacks within the community (1988). CIAC has also conducted research into Chinese medicine in the National Health Service.