The changing Chinese community in London: new migration, new needs.
Sales, Rosemary A.
- Publisher: Middlesex University: School of Health and Social Sciences
London’s Chinese population in London is one of the most rapidly growing of any national group and is becoming increasingly diverse as new forms of migration develop and people arrive from regions of China which have previously seen little emigration. These developments are a product of political and economic changes in both China and in Britain. The ending of restrictions on travel within China and its growing participation in the global economy have opened up new opportunities for internal and international migration. These new migrants include the most privileged - students, the highly skilled with established jobs in London - as well as those for whom China’s transformation to a market economy has meant dispossession and loss of livelihood. Many have been forced to emigrate for survival,\ud often leaving family in China. Britain, with other European countries, has become increasingly dependent on migrant labour but immigration policies are increasingly selective, welcoming those with recognised skills while restricting entry to those deemed unskilled. Many of the new thus migrants find themselves forced to rely on ‘agents’ to enter the country and their insecure status means they have\ud limited rights once they have arrived and are vulnerable to exploitation. The deaths of 20 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2004 drew attention to the ‘hidden’ population of new Chinese migrants. Many new migrants prosper and are able to take advantage of the opportunities which migration brings, but others, especially those with insecure legal and economic status, may struggle, often over a protracted period, to gain a foothold in British society. They may speak little English, have limited\ud knowledge of British society and are poorly prepared to settle and find adequate work. They need support in order to access services, but many have little information about how to go about this and limited social networks to help them. Most of the established Chinese population in London migrated to Britain from Hong Kong and speak Cantonese, unlike the predominantly Mandarin-speaking new migrants. They have established a range of community, business and cultural organisations but these mainly cater for earlier generations. Some have struggled to respond to the new needs which these new migrants bring, but they often lack the necessary knowledge, language and resources. This report is based on research which focused on the experiences of this new population and ways in which service providers could support them in order to promote their inclusion. Although we focus on new migrants, we acknowledge that there is widespread poverty, exclusion and isolation among older generations of Chinese people, particularly as they reach retirement age. The research included all those identifying their ethnic origin as Chinese, including people from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The majority of participants, however, came from mainland China. The study was based in London which has the largest and most diverse Chinese population in Britain and many Chinese organisations. We hope, however, that its findings and recommendations will also be relevant to the Chinese population across Britain. The research was carried out by researchers based at Middlesex University and working with Chinese community organisations in London. We are grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for their financial\ud support and to the School of Health and Social Science at Middlesex University whose contribution ensured that the project was completed. We also wish to thank the informants from Chinese community organisations and the individuals interviewed for the research who have contributed generously with their time and ideas.
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