Devil's Kitchen

Discussions on the Chinese Diaspora to the UK

As detailed in the first article below, Chinese people have been coming to the UK for more than 300 years. The interaction of the UK and China has often been complex.
1. British Museum (pdf)
"Chinese diaspora in Britain. The first recorded Chinese person in Britain was Michael Alphonsius Shen Fu-Tsung ... ...Shen was the first person to catalogue the Chinese manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. He died in 1691."
2. British Chinese Heritage Centre
"... hosting the projects that preserve and exhibit information about the culture heritage stories of the British Chinese. Watch project video and videos of our interviewees to learn more about their experiences."
3. Young Chinese Migrants in London (pdf)
"This report focuses on younger, wealthier migrants, and Professor Knowles is careful to note her research may not capture the full experience of Chinese people living in Britain."
4. SOAS China Institute
"British or Chinese? Stories of Migration, Family and Identity. ... Reconstructed life history interviews from the, SOAS China Institute exhibition "
5. Chinese British on Film
"... the representation of Britain's Chinese communities in film, from 'exotic other' to more authentic self-portraits, in a collection of rare, strange, witty and touching films"

Patterns of arrival

17th to 19th century
Arrivals are individuals, usually about whom little is known. The Chinese Qing court did not approve of Chinese citizens going abroad.
Shen FuZong (possibly 沈福宗) as noted above, helping translate Chinese documents in Oxford's Bodleian Library in the 1680s.
The 'opening' of China to foreign trade
The Second Opium War 1856-1860. The first phase is concluded by Treaty of Tianjin June 26, 1858.
"Treaty of Tianjin (中英天津条约) Article XIII. The Chinese Government will place no restrictions whatever upon the employment, by British subjects, of Chinese subjects in any lawful capacity."
Clearly once British employers had good Chinese employees supporting their businesses, some would make their way to the UK.
Settlement of seamen in British ports
For example, the Liverpool Chinatown website records that from 1850 to 1890 many Chinese sailors boarded in Liverpool and some jumped ship and set up businesses.