Normally forgotten, lonesome and unreported, the British Chinese Takeaway couldn't keep out of Britain's news columns during the month of March.
At the start of the month, it was reported that the UK will have its first British Chinese musical, set in a Chinese Takeaway.http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/31320/stratford-east-to-stage-british-chinese
Then followed the long awaited news of the government's plan to clamp down on Chinese chef migrants as part of their comprehensive policy to reduce economic migration, this could force Britain's Chinese takeaways to close.http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/mar/13/immigration-damian-green-new-restrictions
Throughout the month, there was an avalanche of (UKBA) UK Border Agency raids on Chinese takeaways and restaurants up and down the country, most likely acting on tip-off's, with fines of up to £10,000 for each illegal worker, one business is set to face a total fine of £50,000.
24th March Norwich
22nd March Dorset
16th March Lincolnshire
7th March Dartford Kent
There are wider implications of this witch hunt. Given the cliquesque race orientated nature of the Chinese catering industry, it is improbable Chinese would 'tip-off' other Chinese, rather it is the local white community who tipped them off. At the bottom of the newspaper articles, there is a hot line number to call anonymously to tip-off illegal workers, this mob mentality is a propagation of a general vendetta against persons 'the big society' deems not worthy of being British nor worthy of entitlement. These publicised raids will be used to justify a continuing demonisation of the Chinese community and its catering businesses, anti-Chinese press sentiment reached a fervourous peak during the Foot and Mouth Crisis in 2001.(http://bbczeitgeist.blogspot.com/2010/08/self-hating-chinese.html)
On google, there are pages upon pages of news articles detailing crimes committed against Chinese catering workers and their businesses. Min Quan published a report in 2009 examining the extent of racism against the Chinese community, it stated that '61 per cent of their respondents had been targeted for incidents or crimes simply because they were Chinese.'
The following are extracts from the report...
"Most of my friends in the takeaway business have encountered racist incidents. One of my ex-employers had been harassed for several decades; it was not until he retired that racial harassment stopped."
"Customers do not pay bills, complain about food hygiene, pay bounced cheques, snatch food being delivered, smash shop windows, cause troubles in the shop, and more and more."
"Owners and staff of takeaways and restaurants were often targets of verbal
abuse. For example, after refusing to reduce the price of a set meal from £5 to £3, a Chinese takeaway proprietor was shouted and spat at by a 20-year-old white man."
Police were generally ineffective dealing with incidents or crimes against the Chinese, there are examples of Chinese takeaway owners being arrested for protecting their own premises whilst the perpetrators were 'let off.' The latest development in encouraging people to 'tip off' Chinese businesses is just another chapter in the long history of victimisation.
Often perceived as an pariah in a white community, what does the future hold for the Chinese takeaway? Will the Chinese takeaway gradually disappear or will they be staffed and run by non-Chinese similar to many Chinese restaurants on the continent?