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Chinese life, culture and business in the UK.

1.1 Patterns of Chinese settlement in the UK

The census of 1851 was the first to record a Chinese population in the United Kingdom. A total of 78 Chinese-born people were recorded, all living in London. As British involvement with China grew through the acquisition and development of Hong Kong and treaty concessions in Shanghai, Qingdao and other ports on the Chinese mainland, the Chinese population in the UK began to grow also. The years after World War Two saw a new influx of migrants, mainly from the Hong Kong/New Territories/ Guangzhou region. Confined at first to "sojourners" - men working in Britain to remit money home - this group was later joined by families in response to changing immigration laws.

The 2001 census recorded 247,403 UK citizens of Chinese ethnic background living in the UK. As the community has grown over the years, it has also spread widely across the country from its original points of ingress in London, Liverpool and Cardiff. In fact, the Chinese are the most thinly and widely spread of all the UK's minority groups.

As the necessary Chinese social and economic infrastructure has developed, Manchester has proved to be a popular destination for Chinese migration to the UK. Starting in the late 1980's, the linguistic profile of the community in Manchester and elsewhere began to change. Most previous migrants were overwhelmingly from Hong Kong, the New Territories and the southernmost regions of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The mother tongues of these people were predominantly Hakka, Cantonese, Toisanhua and Chiujauhua. Thereafter, precipitated by the Tiananmen protests of June 4th 1989 and the attendant process of self-selected exile which an estimated 4,000 people pursued, migration has stemmed from all over China. The more recent arrivals speak Mandarin and in some cases and are often of a higher level of educational attainment and possessing a more cosmopolitan outlook than the pioneering generations before them.

(Note on language: Putonghua aka Mandarin is the official language of China. There are about 50 regional dialects, so an immigrant from Shanghai will speak Shanghainese, or if from Fujian, Fujianese. Taiwan also uses Mandarin - referred to as guoyu - as well as Taiwanhua, Taiwanese.

When asked the first thing he would do if he ever achieved power, the ancient sage Confucius is supposed to have said that he would purify the language. This momentous task had to wait until the early 1950's, when the PRC government instituted a wide-ranging programme of linguistic reform. The number of characters was reduced and they were given a simpler form. This is now in use in the PRC and Singapore. Hong Kong, Taiwan and most overseas Chinese communities stick to the old written forms. These reforms also included reclaiming the right to decide on how Chinese names and other words should be anglicized. The Pinyin system replaced the apostrophes, hyphens and letter combinations of the older western originated Wade-Giles system with word spellings that were a closer approximation of Mandarin pronunciations. Peking became Beijing. Mao Tse-tung Mao Zedong and so on. Mainland Chinese use the Pinyin system in the English rendition of their names and other words).

In the 19th century, Britain's main interest in China as a whole was in securing trade routes, often by coercive means. It should be no surprise that the vast majority of Chinese people recorded as living in the UK at that time were seamen, plying the trade routes between Britain and China and overwhelmingly based in London, Liverpool, Cardiff and Strathclyde. Census figures record numbers in the low hundreds throughout the nineteenth and early 2Oth centuries. Nonetheless, there was a large enough volume of temporary residents - usually seamen awaiting berths - to see the development of Chinese owned hostel, laundry and catering businesses and with them the birth of the original Chinatowns in Limehouse, East London and in Liverpool.

Over 100,000 Chinese people served on the Western Front as labourers during World War 1. However, strict immigration rules - in part stimulated by "yellow peril" scare-mongering in the first decades of the 20th century - kept the number of Chinese people settled in the UK down to a maximum of just over 2000 until 1940, when 20,000 sailors were recruited for the British Merchant Marine.

Despite this, the inter-war years saw the emergence of the economic activities which would later come to be regarded as "characteristically Chinese", namely catering and laundry work. Both of these used skills adapted from service on merchant ships. And while the traditional Chinese laundry was to die out during the 1950's, the catering trade was to become the economic bedrock of Chinese life in the UK.

After World War Two, the thousands of sailors taken on for the duration were laid off and repatriated to China. Some contrived to stay in the UK, by whatever means. There was also a small community of diplomatic and business exiles who preferred not to go back to China after the Communist Party came to power in 1949.

But the turmoil in China caused by war stimulated a much larger wave of migration from Hong Kong and the New Territories. The 1951 census recorded 12,523 Chinese people in the UK, a figure which rose to 38,750 in 1961 and just over 96,000 in 1971.

This large increase had a number of causes. The Chinese civil war resulted in a stream of refugees arriving in Hong Kong, which depressed the local labour market while the war itself disrupted trade with the mainland. Also at this time, large volumes of rice from Thailand entered the local market at prices which undercut the traditional rice farmers of the New Territories. And in expanding to cope with its new arrivals, urban Hong Kong encroached on traditional farmland. Many of the displaced farmers used the compensation they received to make a new life in the UK.

The large rise in population in the 1960's is commonly ascribed to changes in the immigration rules which made it harder for families to join menfolk working in Britain. Faced with a definite legal cut off point, many chose to settle in the UK as a family unit, yijiaren, marking a fundamental change in the social nature of the community. From being a largely male group of workers with at least one foot in the ancestral village, the Chinese in Britain became a settled, family-based community. It was a community overwhelmingly Cantonese or Hakka speaking and rural in origin with a distinct set of folkways, traditions and cultural preferences, with these in turn influencing the host society in its perceptions of "Chineseness".

UK Chinese population increase since 1951 graph showing large increase

The Chinese laundry trade fell away with the advent of washing machines and synthetic fibres, but the Chinese catering trade flourished. Originally, it proved an excellent means of employment for single males remitting money back home. In later years, as single men were joined by families, a characteristic socio-economic pattern emerged. A young man would migrate to the UK and learn the trade, often at an establishment run by a family member or someone from the same ancestral home. That done he would move out and set up in business for himself, bringing a wife over from Hong Kong or finding one from amongst the growing numbers of Chinese women settled in Britain. If the business prospered, more help would be needed and so the process would begin again.

Moreover, there was a market for a Chinese take-away and/or restaurant in almost every locality in the country. In the same way that the British acquired a taste for curried dishes, so with Chinese food, which was usually sold alongside the staple fish and chips. Many Chinese people lived "above the shop" in their catering businesses, which were widely dispersed to prevent too much competition. Hence the fact that the Chinese community is spread in a thin layer almost uniformly across the UK.

The fast-food business still appeals to Chinese individuals and couples, particularly those more recently arrived, because it is cash-based, requires relatively little use of English, and endows real and sensed independence to the proprietor who can work all hours as he or she is inclined.

The rise of the Chinese catering trade itself serves as an interesting example of the interface between economic development and cultural transference. The first Chinese restaurants (like the Ping Hong, which opened in Manchester in 1949) served "Anglo-Chinese" food to the local market, made in an approximation of the Chinese style with whatever ingredients could be obtained. Their success saw enough people come to Britain to create sufficient demand for restaurants to import the necessary ingredients to make genuine Chinese meals. These were in turn discovered by non-Chinese people and authentic Chinese food was popularised throughout the UK as a whole, enabling a general rise upmarket. Restaurants and takeaways aside, this development also gave rise to general grocery businesses, food importing and processing and, occasionally, farming ventures.

A certain number of urban legends have also attended the rise of the Chinese catering trade in Britain. For instance, many Chinese takeaways close on Tuesdays. This is supposed to come from the time when Coronation Street was transmitted only on Mondays and Wednesdays. Housewives would down tools in the kitchen to watch on these days, leading to a surge in trade. Tuesday, being comparatively quiet, was taken as a day off. Or so the story goes.

In this way, economically mandated dispersal caused the pattern of settlement which is unique amongst minority communities in the UK. More typically, migrant communities would cluster around the sources of work for which they came, as with Pakistani and Kashmiri communities around the textile mills of Yorkshire and Lancashire, or settle in specific districts in urban areas, as with the Afro-Caribbean communities of Moss Side or Toxteth. When the Vietnamese "boat people" came to the UK in 1975 they were deliberately dispersed throughout the country in order to prevent the formation of what were thought of as "ghettoes". But over time, the Vietnamese people have tended to drift together in specific locations, with Deptford in South East London being the largest centre of population.

However, urban and suburban areas, with their higher population densities, could support more such businesses. And when these numbers reached a critical mass this in turn created a demand for professional services including accountants and lawyers, Chinese supermarkets, community-oriented restaurants and culture and leisure services. Chinatowns formed, usually on an ad hoc basis in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and elsewhere to deliver these services and became business and social hubs for Chinese people living "above the shop" in the wider area.

Aside from being the commercial hubs of Chinese life, Chinatowns also serve an important cultural and welfare function. They are home to Chinese specific voluntary and welfare organisations, from Chinese schools, drop-in centres for senior citizens and mah cheung clubs to clan and district groups uniting people from the same ancestral villages and counties.

Chinatowns are not places of residence for the vast majority of Chinese people in the UK. Instead, they serve as community and business centres for the Chinese population of the surrounding region. Their existence also attracts the local non-Chinese population, creating a secondary touristic economy. This, and the increasing popularity of events like the Chinese New Year celebrations, has led to increasing public and private sector investment over the past two decades and seen Chinatowns integrated into general urban renewal programmes, Newcastle and Birmingham are particularly good examples of this.

One of the attractions of the UK is the relative sense of space from other Chinese people. Chinese households do not naturally cluster together, reflecting the idiom that Chinese people are ‘as unified as sand’, yi tuan san sha’. The family enjoys privacy; in China there is little; by contrast, amongst so many non-Chinese in Britain, there is.

1.2 Census 1991 and 2001

Results from the 1991 census showed that the Chinese population of the UK held steady at 176,367 persons, 0.3% of the entire UK population. 20% of this population was under 16, 5% over 65. with the vast majority falling within the economically active segment of the population.

The 2001 census recorded 247,403 UK citizens of Chinese ethnic background living in the UK. This figure represents 0.4% of the total UK population, and 5.3% of the total ethnic population. The 1991 census found only five parliamentary constituencies in Britain with no Chinese presence. Conversely, only one constituency (Liverpool Riverside) had a Chinese population making up more than 2% of the whole. By 2001, Chinese people formed more than 2% of the population in Westminster, City of London, Cambridge and Barnet.

The 1991 census found that traditional demographic and occupational patterns were continuing to hold good. The Chinese remain evenly spread over the country as a whole, forming the same percentage of the total population in Scotland and Wales as in England. Almost twice as many Chinese as Whites were self -employed and 71% worked in catering or allied trades.

Median household size of 2.9 indicates the prevalence of the traditional nuclear family unit within the community. Chinese people appear to be prospering in the UK, enjoying better general health than average and scoring high on indicators such as educational achievement. Chinese people in the UK are more likely to have a first degree than those in any other group.

1.3 The development of Manchester Chinatown

The first major Chinese presence in Manchester appeared in the 1930's with the opening of a Consulate by the then Nationalist Kuomintang government. This official presence was a reflection of the importance of the Sino-British textile trade and of Manchester's role within it.

It was the decline of that trade, however, which contributed to the origins of Manchester Chinatown, which began to establish itself in the network of former cotton warehouses and offices in the city centre in the immediate post-war years. As with other Chinatowns, economical rents in a declining part of the city offered a new generation of entrepreneurs their opportunity.

The first Chinese restaurant in Manchester appeared in 1949. More followed over the next decade, catering largely for a non-Chinese clientele. Most of these businesses failed over time, but were followed by places offering more authentic cuisine - a sign that the local Chinese population was beginning to grow. The custom of taking jobs with relatives or wider kinship groups in the UK makes it possible to identify the place of origin of local Chinese communities down to village or county level.

In Manchester, the pioneering generation can be traced to two locations. A largely Hakka speaking community from Lo Wai in the New Territories took advantage of compensation received from the Hong Kong government which wanted to build on its land to migrate to the city. Manchester was also the final destination for people from Five Counties, Ng Yip, outside Guangzhou city. The Ng Yip Association still flourishes in Nicholas Street, in the heart of Chinatown. In Liverpool, a community of people from Four Counties, See Yap, was the first to establish itself. Map at Appendix 4.7.

The establishment of a Hong Kong Government Office, and branches of the Bank of China and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in the1970’s vitally increased the function of Manchester in the British Chinese economy.

Starting in the 1970's, Manchester also became a favoured place of secondary settlement, attracting Chinese people from other parts of the UK. One reason for this is the North South divide. Property prices and rents did not rise as they did in London and Southern England, yet nor was the local area affected as badly in the recessions of the 1980's as potential competitors like Liverpool and Leeds.

Manchester's communications infrastructure also made it an ideal location for businesses serving Chinese people in the mother tongue. As Manchester Chinatown developed during this period it gradually became the social and commercial hub for the community from The Lake District in the North down to North Staffordshire, and from West Lancashire to beyond the Pennines.

The Chinese demography of Manchester, Greater Manchester and the NW Region does not reveal any dense concentrations of population

The presence of Manchester University, UMIST, MBS and the other major educational institutions in the city has also given Manchester a large and growing temporary population of Chinese students from other parts of the UK, Hong Kong, and elsewhere in East Asia. Most significant in recent years has been the influx of students from the People's Republic of China (PRC). Manchester's educational sector has helped make the city well known across China and the Chinese speaking Far East and has proved, with the airport, an instrumental factor in attracting the most recent group of Chinese residents to the region.

Many of these ‘people from mainland China’, dalu laide maintain connections to academic life as postgraduate students and researchers. Others are typically working on short term contracts or managerial postings in the corporate sector - a group whose numbers can be expected to grow as the region's business links with China develop. Most do not expect to make Manchester their permanent home. But their growing numbers and shared circumstances make this relatively new group an important feature of Chinese life in and around the city.

The dalu laide do not have geographically specific backgrounds, coming instead from cities across the PRC, and they are educated to a higher level. These factors distinguish them from the established Manchester Chinese community. They are less interested in the existing social structures and hierarchies of Chinatown and their business and cultural lives are less "Chinatown-centred". They are likely to have a somewhat more cosmopolitan view of life and more strategic view of business, especially in relation to trade and investment with China.

For these reasons, dalu laide have not all blended seamlessly into the established community, though large numbers of less well educated migrants from the PRC have undercut existing wage levels in the catering trade, which remains the bedrock of the Chinese economy in Manchester.

Dalu laide have made a distinctive contribution which has added value to the Chinatown business scene, namely the growing numbers of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners. More importantly over the longer term, their pursuit of business links with China provides the opportunity for Chinatown to act as a conduit for inward investment from China to the city and region as a whole.

Manchester's universities attract approximately 5,000 Chinese students to the city each year. These are not a homogenous group, but include British Born Chinese students (BBC's) and students from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and the PRC.

Whatever their origins, Chinese students tend to have a semi-detached relationship to the mainstream of Chinese life in Manchester. They maintain their own groups and organisations, often uniting students with the same country of origin. The Chinese Students and Scholars Association is the official body for students from the PRC, with local chapters across the UK (including Manchester) and links to the Chinese Embassy. Hong Kong student societies draw membership from students from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Additionally, Chinese student societies attract ethnic Chinese members from the UK, the Chinese speaking Far East and elsewhere.

All these groups are constituted to meet the social and cultural needs of Chinese students, and provide the sense of companionship and shared heritage that might otherwise be found amongst compatriots in the general Chinese community. It is worth pointing out as well that many students from China are more interested in exploring the UK as tourists than feeling bound to taking part in the life of the local community. Having said that, the more public-spirited students do play a role as volunteers in community and charitable groups within Chinatown. The Manchester Chinese Christian Church, for instance, reports a high level of interest and involvement from Chinese students, especially those from the PRC.

Chinese students also report the existence of an unofficial pecking order in student life. At the top are students from China itself and from Hong Kong. Next come Chinese students from elsewhere who are fluent in the mother tongue. At the bottom are BBCs and other ethnic Chinese students whose main language is English. This reflects an old tradition connecting "Chineseness" with geographical proximity to China itself, but it has the tendency to alienate BBCs from their heritage.

1.4 The Chinese economy in Manchester

No figures have been produced giving the overall monetary value of the Chinese economy in Manchester and the North West. Figures produced by the catering industry for the UK as a whole in 1995 estimated that the Chinese catering economy to be worth £568 million annually. 16% of all the hot food sold in the UK was estimated to come from a Chinese owned business.

As one of the largest Chinese communities in the UK, Manchester can be expected to account for much of the turnover of this "catering economy". This sub-economy feeds into the local economy as a whole creating markets in diverse sectors including food and equipment supply, along with legal, professional and financial services.

Many of these are provided from within the community itself, diversifying the local Chinese economic base. A Chinatown centred "leisure economy" is also well established, encompassing everything from hairdressing salons newsagents and outlets for Chinese language music and movies. More recently, TCM practitioners have also become a significant part of the Chinatown economy, serving the community and taking advantage of the wider popularity of alternative and complementary medicine.

Aside from its primary function as a linchpin of the local Chinese economy, Chinatown is also an important destination for visitors to the city. Local restaurants have played an important part in popularising authentic Chinese cuisine to the wider market. Other businesses have taken advantage of a growing curiosity about Chinese culture in the wider community, providing an important income stream for the Chinatown economy and helping attract visitors who spend money in the city as a whole. Chinese New Year is the obvious focal point of this process, which nonetheless adds value to the regional economy all year round.

Officially opened in 1987, the Chinese Arch served as a symbol uniting a collection of Chinese businesses and other organisations grouped together for convenience and economy into a Chinatown proper. Funded by a consortium consisting of local businesspeople, Manchester City Council and the PRC government, the arch also serves as an early example of a fact now taken for granted in urban regeneration - namely that cultural strategies can play an important role in economic development.

1.5 Occupational profile

It has been estimated that over 90% of the UK Chinese community have worked at some time or other in catering or allied trades. It should be stressed, however, that this is not a vocation for most people. Originally, catering was a means of securing economic security in a new land. For most people, it still serves this purpose, providing an income not only for families but for students and young people between jobs or prior to embarking on careers.

The rate of new business generation in the Chinese catering trade began to decline in the 1980's. As many of the older generation retire and give up their businesses, the likelihood is that the restaurants and takeaways will be taken over by more recently arrived immigrants as the a larger proportion of the third and later generations move into other occupations.

Census and other statistics bear this out. British born and based Chinese people have the highest level of educational achievement of all ethnic groups in the UK and the community as a whole enjoys one of the highest income levels. The economic security provided by catering is being bolstered as the younger generation make inroads into business and the professions.

Traditionally, Chinese people have been under-represented in public and voluntary sector professions, with the possible exception of medicine. This began to change in the 1980's, with the appearance of grant funded organisations dedicated to the welfare of, and advocacy for, the Chinese community. However, there remains a distinct preference for business and professional occupations amongst British-born Chinese people.

A similar pattern is responsible for the comparatively small Chinese presence in the UK's cultural industries. The origins of most Chinese people in the UK are in the rural New Territories and South China. The aspirations of the first generation to settle here were focused on attaining economic security. To parents from this parochial background, the thought of children taking up careers in the arts promised neither respectability nor security. And the highly distributed nature of the Chinese community in the UK - with over 50% of people living outside major metropolitan districts - makes it harder for artistically inclined younger people to meet and inspire each other or create a milieu in which artistic creation and appreciation can flourish. In the light of this, the growing number of British Chinese artists working in various media should be taken as a tribute to the resilience of the people involved, as well as indicating that the outlook of the community as a whole may be changing.

As with other minority communities, Chinese people in Britain tend to be younger than the host community. The influx of families to the UK in the 1960's led, by the 1980's, to a situation where over 50% of all Chinese people in the UK were under 30. The relative youth of the Chinese community in Manchester has also been reinforced by the large numbers of Chinese students in the city.

1.6 Chinatown Culture and matters of identity

A report on the Chinese community issued by the Runnymede Trust in 1986 commented: "The Chinese are not especially interested in influencing other people neither do they readily accept non-Chinese influences on themselves. They have a sense of identity which is absolutely confident but is in no way aggressive."

Cultural autonomy and economic self-reliance are often viewed as the most striking attributes of the Chinese community in Britain. In fact, both are commonly perceived as being part of the same package of essential "Chineseness." Yet it is possible to find concrete historical causes for both these attributes.

Originating mainly at the southernmost extremity of China, the UK-Chinese community's ancestors were always far away from the centralising influences of imperial rule under the dynastic system. Those who became British subjects when the UK colonised Hong Kong and the New Territories were the recipients of the official policy of "benign neglect". In China itself, successive experiences of civil conflict, warlordism, Japanese colonial rule, and dictatorship by the Kuomintang and Communists reinforced aversion to government and interference by the state.

In these circumstances, the family and wider clan and village based kinship networks became both the primary economic unit and the means by which Chinese culture is maintained and passed on to succeeding generations. It is fundamentally a private affair.

These tendencies were maintained and even reinforced by the experience of Chinese life in Britain. The distributed nature of the community, with one or perhaps two Chinese families in nearly every small town and village in the UK, means that Chinese families have been largely thrown back on to their own cultural and economic resources. Very often, a Chinese family would be the only visible minority in a small community, and frequent incidences of racist abuse and attack contributed to a sense of being under pressure, if not under siege.

Aside from their role as social and cultural centres, the development of Chinatowns enabled people from the same places of origin to recreate the village life that they or their parents might have known in China and Hong Kong. So doing, they buttressed their sense of ‘Chineseness’ through informal social contact, business dealings and mother tongue classes for children. Chinatowns also provide access to Chinese contemporary culture through book and video stores.

The communications revolution of the 1990's has itself contributed to this process by making culture portable. A visitor to Manchester Chinatown can stock up on newspapers, magazines and DVDs, as well as buying phone cards offering calls to China and Hong Kong at cheap rates. Two satellite Channels – Phoenix Chinese News and Entertainment and TVB’s Chinese Channel - offer comprehensive news and entertainment programming in Mandarin and Cantonese respectively. Real time contact with China can also be made over the internet and the World Wide Web.

Within Manchester Chinatown itself, gambling is one of the most popular pastimes, especially amongst men. Local casinos welcome family groups and are themselves regarded as social centres. Informal games of mah cheung enlivened by side bets take place in restaurant kitchens and social clubs. Local discos offer "Chinese nights" featuring Canto-Pop stars and cinemas occasionally feature the latest Hong Kong movies.

It is easily possible for a Chinese person in Manchester to enjoy a fairly rich cultural life while taking no interest at all in the general arts scene or the wider culture which it represents. However, with the exception of Chinese New Year and other traditional festivals, all these experiences are mediated through written and audio-visual means, rather than being experienced in person.

From the above it would be easy to draw the conclusion that Chinese culture in the UK and Manchester is hermetically sealed and focused almost inclusively on China and Hong Kong. But this would be to ignore the growing numbers of British-Chinese artists working in various styles and media and addressing in their work questions of identity. That venues like Manchester's Chinese Arts Centre exist demonstrate that headway is being made against the general predisposition against artistic careers within the Chinese community.

But what Chinese artists also have to contend with is the absence of a geographical community which provides financial and moral support to culture and the arts, and whose backing is often a precondition to mainstream acceptance. Isolation has also led many BBC's to report leading a kind of double life. Within the home, the cultural atmosphere may be completely Chinese. Outside it - at school and amongst friends - the pressure is to become completely assimilated.

This also separates Chinese people from the general social project of minority arts, namely to widen the definition of ‘Britishness’ to take account of a multicultural society. Instead, many people are faced with a stark choice - look to the wider Chinese world for cultural sustenance, or integrate to vanishing point. And the option of integration becomes progressively easier as the host society becomes more accepting of ethnic and cultural difference.

1.7 Manchester: the Chinese network

It has been said that Chinese people in the UK are best viewed as part of a network rather than members of a community. It is a network which involves individuals and families as joiners of clubs and associations, users of community and commercial services, volunteers in charitable projects, and members of goal-oriented alliances of business interests.

The Chinese network in Manchester provides a good example of this process at work, and offers a typical cross section of the kinds of association that have emerged in response to the demands of Chinese life in the UK. It has grown steadily over the past 30 years and now covers a wide variety of activities, from the arts to business, and including religion, education, health, housing, leisure, and advocacy and services for women, children and senior citizens.

The oldest of these groups is probably the Manchester Chinese Christian Church, which has been in existence for 36 years and still flourishes, reporting particular interest in its activities from students from the PRC and Hong Kong.

Clan associations, uniting same surname and kinship groups from localised parts of China and Hong Kong still play a significant role in community life. In Manchester, the Ng Yip Association provides recreational and social facilities for families from the Five Counties around Guangzhou city, from where many Chinese people in Manchester trace their origin.

Clan associations serve to maintain the connection with cultural roots. This purpose has been served more formally by the North West Chinese Language School, which has provided mother-tongue classes for Chinese children since the 1970's. Attending Sunday Chinese school is a longstanding rite of passage for BBCs in the Manchester area, as elsewhere in the UK.

In 1985, the Home Office produced a landmark report on the Chinese Community in Britain, which found that racism, linguistic barriers and cultural alienation combined to deny access to essential services. The report crystalised an emerging tendency within the community to come out of its shell and engage with society and the state in pursuit of what might be termed full citizenship. The 1980's and 1990's saw a number of welfare oriented, publicly funded groups emerge to meet varied community needs.

These groups continue to flourish. They include the Tung Sing Housing Association, founded in 1984 which provides sheltered accommodation to Chinese senior citizens at a number of locations across Manchester. The Wai Yin Chinese Association offers a range of educational and welfare services and the Chinese Health Information Centre provides drop in clinics and peripatetic health education seminars.

Established in 1986, the Chinese Arts Centre (CAC) is dedicated to increasing the visibility of Chinese arts and culture in society at large. As well as providing support and exhibition space British-Chinese artists, the CAC is becoming increasingly involved in Sino-British cultural relations. In 2001, it won a lottery grant of £2 million, and is now in the process of constructing a purpose built headquarters and exhibition space.

While many Chinese organisations in Manchester have proved durable, business groupings have tended to rise and fall with the fortunes of their founders or to be organised around specific projects. Established last year, the North West Chinese Council has a wider remit, seeking to integrate Chinatown's economic development with the region as a whole and explore ways in which the Chinese presence in Manchester can draw inward investment from the PRC.