When British Chancellor George Osborne and London Mayor Boris Johnson visited China this month and tried to attract more Chinese visitors, they perhaps did not expect what was happening back in London’s Chinatown.
The United Kingdom Border Agency recently carried out more than 13 raids in Chinatown that business owners described as “discriminatory” and that led to a strike and protests on Tuesday afternoon.
Business owners claimed the raids were “fishing” for illegal immigrants, were not intelligence-led and were heavy-handed. Many raids ended without arrests. Some business owners said they were not conducted in accordance with lawful procedures.
Most restaurants and shops across Chinatown willingly closed for two hours on Tuesday and hundreds of protesters filled the main street of Chinatown in central London. Some carried a large banner saying “Say No to UKBA Fishing Raids in Chinatown”.
The Chinese community stressed it is not trying to justify employing illegal workers, only that any raids had to be conducted in the right way.
“The closure in Chinatown on Tuesday indicates a strong desire among the UK Chinese community for their genuine concerns to be acknowledged and addressed,” said Suresh Grover, director of the Monitoring Group, which was established in west London in the early 1980s by community campaigners and lawyers who wished to challenge the growth of racism in the area