It Is Lucky to Be Chinese in London

Jal Paddy,

The easiest way to get a UK visa at the moment is to become Chinese.

The UK government is pulling all stops to make it as easy and smooth as can be for the Chinese to get visas to the UK. For the better part of 2013, our ever impressive London mayor, Mr Boris Johnson, has frequented China, trying to woo their investors, government and tourists into spending their Yuan in London.

It has been whispered that on one such trip last October, the mayor went over to specifically plead for the forgiveness of UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron had effectively been barred from visiting China because Beijing was pissed off with him for meeting the Dalai Lama. Two months later the prime minister, accompanied by six government ministers, led a successful 3-day trade mission to China. All sins had been forgiven.

That is the power of China for you at the moment, and when the London weather is as warm and bright as it is right now, the young- moneyed folks from China pour into London and other European cities in droves, showing off and fighting to outspend each other.

The average Chinese shopper here spends about pound633 per transaction and up to pound4,000 per shopping trip, as they take aantage of prices, which are about 30 per cent cheaper than at home, with VAT waived. Most high-end London businesses are now employing staff fluent in Chinese and translating signs within their premises into standard Mandarin, the official language in China.

More than a handful of big projects such as British Power, the London Black Cab, the Weetabix company and the UK equivalent of National Water and Sewerage Corporation, (Thames Water), are also co-owned by Chinese investment companies, and the list is longer than this.

The big question is: is London scared of the Chinese? I don’t think so. London looks at China as an opportunity, just like it looked at Africa during the colonial years, and moved on when our economic usefulness expired.

Most of UK’s manufacturing arm is based in China, just as some are in Vietnam, India and all these places. They put themselves in a position where companies from anywhere around the world decide it is prudent to do business with them. The main attraction in China has been the cheap labour, which unfortunately is slowly being compromised by shoddy workmanship and the slowly mounting gospel of corporate responsibility and ‘fair trade.’ For now though, it is quite ‘profitable’ being Chinese.

Now for Africa, we are yet to get to that ‘profitable’ position. A continent, with our natural resources and unadulterated land, is ours for the taking. I am thinking organic foods, the wildlife, and our history, culture and heritage (after all, London makes millions from theirs).

This commercial big business is not our thing. We are a people who attach too much emotion to business. We may find it tough going if we tried operating in the dehumanising and oppressive ways we see some of these Asian economies treat their workers. But then this fact could also make us very appealing to organisations that want to be associated with clean and ethical ways of doing business.

America and Europe seems to have had their day and the Chinese are having theirs. Following the natural trend of things, shouldn’t we start warming up for ours now? And for a change, have the rest of the world fight for our visas?

Your friend,


Source : The Observer

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