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Theresa May’s Comments Does More damage than good For the Chinese Communities in UK


I cannot help to think that of that the Nasty Party has returned with a vengeance in regards to their manifesto commitment could hardly have been clearer:

The Conservatives were going to make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe. “We need good, strong families to help our society work well,” they declared. “We will support families to stay together.” Their coalition partners agreed, pledging to give every family the support needed to thrive.

In the light of such promises, the latest attempt to stave off meltdown in the polls is perplexing, to put it mildly. For the government is boasting of its intention to split up thousands of families each year. Although only poor ones. And those with a foreigner in their midst.

Theresa May confirmed that Britons who fall in love with someone from outside the EU will be unable to bring them into the country unless they earn at least £18,600 a year. Even then, their partner is likely to be stuck in the purgatory of a probation period for five years, rather than the current two. And if foolish enough to have children, the required income rises substantially.

Ostensibly, this is to stop migrants sponging off the state. Government statistics, however, show foreign-born people are less than half as likely to claim benefits as those born here (while paying the same taxes, of course).

May says her flint-hearted policy is not about numbers. In one respect she is right. It is about winning favourable headlines, part of a weekend fightback after the budget omnishambles. The move may cause pain for those caught in the trap, forced to choose whether to stay apart or move abroad, but it sates the focus groups demanding ever-tougher action on benefits and immigration.

But if immigration policies are not about numbers, why has the government imposed an arbitrary cap, already doing such damage to universities, one of the few booming parts of the economy? This is the real reason for the reform: as many observers warned, the government is unlikely to meet its immigration targets, hardly surprising in such a globalised world. But then, as David Cameron pointed out in opposition, top-down targets distort priorities – and nowhere is this truer than with immigration.

Ministers should consider the implications of this latest move. First, forcing an estimated 15,000 families each year to emigrate or live apart is not just heartless – it gives the lie to those manifesto claims to support society’s building block. Second, by picking off the poorest families, the fear that Conservatives care only about the rich is reinforced, undermining six years of modernisation just as with the disastrous decision to cut top-rate tax. Third, it is not going to help win over those ethnic minority voters the party has belatedly recognised it desperately needs.

A more mature approach to migration is required at this time of economic paralysis. One in three people living in London is foreign born, a key reason why the south-east is the only region of Britain giving more to the state than it takes out. Migrants have been shown to boost everything from wages and growth to educational achievement and innovation. Additionally, with nearly 5 million Britons living abroad, there is something arrogant about our assumption that we can live and work wherever in the world we like, but won’t allow many foreigners to join British partners in this country.

This plan is morally suspect and in breach of manifesto promises, another short-term tactical move that threatens the government’s long-term strategy. A decade ago, it was May who warned the Tories they were perceived as “the nasty party” because some members made political capital out of demonising minorities. It is a speech she would do well to remember.

Yet in a further attack on the Chinese communities The Home Secretary is blocking plans by her cabinet colleagues to make it easier for Chinese tourists to get visas amid fears it will lead to a rise in organised crime, according to a leaked letter.

Theresa May has warned Downing Street that relaxing checks on Chinese visitors would pose a threat to national security and bring Chinese criminals and asylum seekers to Britain.

Her intervention comes after senior cabinet ministers, led by Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, raised concerns that tourists are being put off coming to Britain by a difficult and expensive visa system.

Mr Hunt’s call to simplify the regime is understood to have been supported by George Osborne, the Chancellor, and Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, amid complaints from Chinese businesses.

A leaked letter from Mrs May’s private secretary shows the issue has escalated to the highest level of Government with the Home Secretary forced to answer questions from the Prime Minister about how to increase Chinese visits.

It also reveals that she has rejected Mr Hunt’s proposals to let Chinese visitors in tour groups get European and British visas at the same time.

Mrs May claims that checks in Europe “do not match the UK decision quality” and claims the British visa controls are a “key tool in protecting the public against significant harm”.

The letter also points out there are already 400 Chinese criminals awaiting deportation and 1,000 asylum applications from Chinese citizens last year.

“The proposal… is not acceptable to the Home Secretary for national security reasons. At Cabinet the issue of asylum claims was discussed,” the letters says.

“We also face significant challenges with Foreign National Offenders and organised crime including drugs, money laundering, fraud, criminal finances, intellectual property, immigration and cyber crime.”

Her tough line on immigration has opened up a rift with Mr Hunt, who this week promised to improve visa application system to help triple the number of Chinese tourists by 2015.

On Tuesday, he urged Britain to get on the “front foot” and stop underestimating the huge potential of Chinese visitors, who typically spend £1,700 per trip – three times the amount of an average visitor.

Government statistics show Britain is losing out on this trade with only 147,000 Chinese tourists last year compared with 1.2 million going to France.

The European system, known as Schengen, allows tourists to enter 25 countries on one visa.

An analysis by The Daily Telegraph last year found that Chinese visitors to Britain face higher fees, more form-filling and extra trips to a visa office than if they travel to any of the 25 Schengen countries.

Research from VisitBritain, the national tourist body, has also found 61 per cent of Chinese people who chose not to come to Britain were put off by the more difficult visa process. The application forms are currently in English rather than Mandarin.

Estimates suggest the cost of the UK process was last year almost £100 with fees, compared with £55 for Spain. A ten year UK visa costs more than £700.

Sebastian Wood, the British ambassador in Beijing, wrote to Mrs May in June complaining that the visa system is seen in China as a “fortress” that is putting off tourists.

However, the leaked letter, which was sent by Katharine Hammond, Mrs May’s principal private secretary, to Simon King, the Prime Minister’s private secretary, strongly defends the current system and blames VisitBritain for failing to market Britain’s scenic natural beauty properly.

The Home Office also insists the visa process is “insignificant compared to the price and availability of hotels” and says “the cost of the visa is not a barrier”.

It further criticises Mr Hunt’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport for using “selective statistics” to back up its claims that visa problems are to blame.

Last night, the Home Office said it has already made improvements to its Chinese service by introducing more visa officers, introducing VIP facilities, an online application process and translated guidance. It declined to comment on the leaked letter.

Sources close to Mr Hunt said many cabinet ministers were sympathetic to his efforts to boost growth by reforming the visa system.

A report from UK Trade and Industry last month suggested the Home Office’s immigration policy is harming Britain’s efforts to attract more foreign investors who could help drag the country out of recession.

It said the requirement for Chinese visitors to get a British visa on top of their Schengen visa is a “significant barrier”.

Others claim tourists are put off by the lack of direct flights from Heathrow to major Chinese cities, such as Shenzhen, Tianjin, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, said: “The UK is losing out to the rest of Europe when it comes to Chinese visitors and this is entirely in the Government’s control. They need to change the visa system and change it urgently.”

I really don’t think Theresa May has any comprehension of her actions and understanding how serious this has caused in the Chinese Communities across UK and Scotland and how it will affects any  hopes that Britain could emerge from recession this year were dealt a blow by data showing that the manufacturing sector shrank at its fastest rate in more than three years last month.

The dismal picture was repeated around the world. In the eurozone, export orders plunged despite the weaker euro, the Chinese manufacturing sector continued to deteriorate, and production growth slowed in the US.

The news will ratchet up pressure on central banks across the globe for a co-ordinated effort to boost market liquidity and drive an economic recovery. This week the Bank of England, the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank will hold their monthly meetings to discuss rates and stimulus programmes, such as Britain’s quantitative easing programme.

Britain slumped into a double-dip recession at the start of the year and the Office for National Statistics estimates the economy shrank another 0.7% in the second quarter, driven by poor weather and an extra bank holiday over the jubilee weekend. Economists have been betting that the UK will bounce back in the third quarter, but Wednesday’s Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) of 45.4 for July – well below expectations of 48.4 – suggests manufacturing will continue to drag on the economy.

The PMI summarises the opinions of purchasing managers in the manufacturing sector, who gauge future demand and adjust orders for materials accordingly. Wednesday’s shock reading means orders for materials were dramatically lower, so the outlook for the economy is much worse than previously feared. Substantial falls in new orders, export orders and backlogs of work suggest the sector may contract even more in the coming months.

Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight, said: “The July purchasing managers’ survey is massively disappointing and worrying, indicating that the manufacturing sector’s problems are currently running deep. Life is clearly hugely challenging for manufacturers at the moment. Domestic demand for manufactured goods is handicapped by current muted investment intentions, still serious headwinds facing consumers and tightening public spending. Meanwhile, eurozone economic weakness, in particular, is limiting overall foreign demand for UK manufactured goods.”

Markit said the PMI figures would not yet show the impact of recent attempts by policymakers to boost the UK economy. It is hoped that the £80bn Funding for Lending scheme, launched on Wednesday, and a further £50bn of quantitative easing announced in July will increase the availability of credit for small businesses and drive output.

In the eurozone, manufacturing activity sank to its lowest point in more than three years. Germany and France were the worst hit as their crisis-hit trading partners cut back on orders. Only Ireland bucked the trend, with output starting to increase again owing to rising exports. Economists said the eurozone was now stuck firmly in recession, with GDP likely to fall again in the third quarter.

The UK’s exports to China increased by 40% in the first six months of the year, according to the UK government, although admittedly from a very low base, less than 2.5% of all UK exports.

UK hold its national day at the Shanghai World Expo, and using it to trumpet the opportunities for two-way trade between the two countries.

But can Beijing be relied on to help keep UK inc in business?

Promoting innovation

The UK Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo is one of the most popular attractions on the site, thanks to its unusual design.

It is a huge cube built from thousands of translucent rods that shimmer and dance in the late summer breeze.

Alastair Morgan, the diplomat in charge of promoting trade between the UK and China, couldn’t be more pleased with the opportunity the Expo’s presented to market the UK to the Chinese.

“This is a fantastic means of promoting UK innovation,” he says, “and we’ve worked very hard to build up a programme of well over 100 business events around that, highlighting innovation in all our sectors.

“You name it, we’re promoting it!”

The British describe China as an important trading partner, but is it?

Business expansion

The UK exports more to Ireland than it does to China, Brazil, Russia and India put together. But even though the proportion of total exports is tiny, China is still the biggest export market for UK goods outside the US and the EU.

Politicians and business people from western countries salivate over the prospects of selling to a market of 1.3 billion people.

In the centre of Shanghai you find the big names you see on the UK High Street – Marks and Spencer for example – trying to establish a foothold in the market here, but it’s not easy.

The British firm Costa Coffee is one of the companies that is seeking to expand in China. Its stores look, feel and even smell like any of their branches back in the UK.

The company is opening new outlets across China as fast as it can, but so far its two joint ventures with local partners are not making a profit. Paul Smith, who runs their operations in Asia, says Costa Coffee is in China “because we are committed to a global expansion of our business”.

“If you come here to make money in China you have to remember it will take you some time to do so,” he says. “It’s a country that you need to invest in in many ways. That’s not just money, that’s people, that’s resources, and you have to understand you need to be necessarily patient in China in every aspect.”

Gamble

Companies like Costa Coffee are betting that tomorrow’s prospects will be rich enough to compensate for the lack of profits today.

But it is right to characterise this as a gamble, and fair to say that some here are starting to complain the odds are stacked against them.

In recent months there have been complaints from European and US diplomats about protectionism in China.

British diplomat Alastair Morgan believes protectionism results from intense pressure on local officials to develop China’s industrial base.

“The commitment to the development of China, does in the minds of some officials, lead them to take what could be seen as protectionist approaches,” he says.

“[It’s a] very, very clear commitment to developing Chinese capability which doesn’t always come through as fair treatment or equal treatment for foreign-owned companies in China.”

The UK Foreign Secretary William Hague was welcomed by senior officials in Beijing a few weeks ago on one of his first foreign trips since taking office.

The complaints he heard from British companies here, he raised with the Chinese government.

But such conversations can be difficult.

‘Nurturing environment’

Zhang Monan is a researcher for the National Development and Reform Commission, the body that helps plan economic policy for the Chinese government. She says trade frictions and protectionism are “unavoidable”.

“China is a developing country. A lot of industry’s still in its infancy,” she says.

“The state needs to provide a nurturing and fair environment so that companies can grow and compete.”

In fact you don’t have to look that hard in the shops here, to find Chinese products that are already as good as foreign brands.

The reality is that as well as dealing with protectionism, foreign firms seeking to sell here have to accept the competition is getting tougher.

Costs are increasing too with rising wages further damaging profitability.

What no-one knows for certain is what the prospects will be for foreign firms to make money here in the years ahead.

Will potential consumers want to buy British because of the cachet associated with them, or will they be keener to buy Chinese products once they are perceived to be as good as ones brought here by the foreigners?

Archer said: “The dismal July eurozone purchasing managers’ manufacturing surveys piles yet more pressure on the ECB to come up with concrete measures at its policy meeting this Thursday to help ease the eurozone sovereign debt tensions, particularly the pressure on Spain.” He expects the central bank to cut interest rates from their record low of 0.75% in September or October.

The impact of the eurozone crisis was felt around the world. In the US, the manufacturing sector grew in July at its slowest pace in nearly three years. Chris Williamson, of Markit, warned the sector could contract in the third quarter if falling export orders and weaker domestic demand persist.

In China, conditions improved marginally in July, nudging the PMI up from 48.2 to 49.3, but it remained below the 50 level that separates growth from contraction. Qu Hongbin, economist at HSBC, said: “This is far from inspiring, as China’s growth slowdown has not been reversed meaningfully.”

Theresa May should realise that most of the goods that comes from China and that there is a very high demand from UK businesses to help boost our economy and she could well listen to her counterpart when he said Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt says he wants the UK to attract more tourists from China following the success of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad The success of the Olympics can “turbocharge” the Britain’s tourism industry, Mr Hunt said as the Government prepared to launch a major push to attract visitors.

Chinese tourists will be targeted under a new strategy which will be launched today, with ministers hopeful the number of holidaymakers from the country will treble.

Mr Hunt is determined to make the most of the global spotlight being on the UK and will set out his new strategy in a speech to tourism industry leaders.

He said: “We must use this extraordinary year to turbocharge our tourism industry, to create jobs and prosperity on the back of a globally-enhanced reputation.”

The new strategy will involve an £8 million extension of the “Great” marketing campaign, including within China.

The UK’s exports to China increased by 40% in the first six months of the year, according to the UK government, although admittedly from a very low base, less than 2.5% of all UK exports.

UK will be holding its national day at the Shanghai World Expo, and using it to trumpet the opportunities for two-way trade between the two countries.

But can Beijing be relied on to help keep UK inc in business?

Promoting innovation

The UK Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo is one of the most popular attractions on the site, thanks to its unusual design.

It is a huge cube built from thousands of translucent rods that shimmer and dance in the late summer breeze.

Alastair Morgan, the diplomat in charge of promoting trade between the UK and China, couldn’t be more pleased with the opportunity the Expo’s presented to market the UK to the Chinese.

“This is a fantastic means of promoting UK innovation,” he says, “and we’ve worked very hard to build up a programme of well over 100 business events around that, highlighting innovation in all our sectors.

“You name it, we’re promoting it!”

The British describe China as an important trading partner, but is it?

Business expansion

The UK exports more to Ireland than it does to China, Brazil, Russia and India put together. But even though the proportion of total exports is tiny, China is still the biggest export market for UK goods outside the US and the EU.

Politicians and business people from western countries salivate over the prospects of selling to a market of 1.3 billion people.

In the centre of Shanghai you find the big names you see on the UK High Street – Marks and Spencer for example – trying to establish a foothold in the market here, but it’s not easy.

The British firm Costa Coffee is one of the companies that is seeking to expand in China. Its stores look, feel and even smell like any of their branches back in the UK.

The company is opening new outlets across China as fast as it can, but so far its two joint ventures with local partners are not making a profit. Paul Smith, who runs their operations in Asia, says Costa Coffee is in China “because we are committed to a global expansion of our business”.

“If you come here to make money in China you have to remember it will take you some time to do so,” he says. “It’s a country that you need to invest in in many ways. That’s not just money, that’s people, that’s resources, and you have to understand you need to be necessarily patient in China in every aspect.”

I Strongly feel that her comments indicate that May believes ‘all Chinese people are criminals’. However, I find it very surprising that she is proposing these measures, which I’m assuming is based on some kind of home office evidence.

Surely they should just have a quick glance over to France who, quite smartly I would say, have welcomed the Chinese, and clearly benefited from it economically, and measure the amount of tourism against whether there is a rise in crime specifically related to the Chinese community, I doubt very much if there is.

I believe this statement shows exactly how out of touch the Tories are with the reality of every day, ordinary society and obviously the British Chinese community, and on a deeper level shows how they are struggling with the shift in power between East and West, and the loss of the colonial empire.

I think we should, if you do send out an article, emphasise our internationalism and positive relationship’s with China and the British Chinese community etc.

It really is very offensive to be judged in a way that does not match with the person you actually are, which in May’s case here, she seems to have extended to an entire country.

I would love the opportunity for more Chinese tourists to experience the natural beauty and culture of UK and the tourist proposition it has to offer.

Shame the Tories are blocking that one as well, it’s an insult.

 

 

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