Leaders urge Chinese to be vigilant

Updated: 2011-08-12 08:08

By Zhang Chunyan, Zhang Haizhou and Fu jing (China Daily)

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London / Brussels - The London Chinatown Chinese Association held a special meeting to discuss the riots in the UK and issued suggestions on safety.

"The Chinatown Chamber of Commerce will strengthen the cooperation with police to confirm Chinatown's safety, and protect visitors, shops, merchants and staffs from any threat," newly-elected president Stanley Tse of Chinese Association told China Daily on Wednesday.

The recent unrest didn't directly affect London Chinatown, but Tse noted that all Chinese merchants should take precautions.

Chairman Chu Ting Tang said the Chamber of Commerce will send e-mail reminding members to be vigilant. "Chinese people should keep calm in case of an emergency and take measures to ensure their personal safety," Tang added.

Officials also recommended that business owners hold less cash and check their security alarm systems to make sure they are working properly.

Andrew Methven, chief executive of Newland PR - a China-focused public relations agency based in London - said the riots would harm Britain's national image in the eyes of Chinese investors.

Some prospective business visits from China have been cancelled because of the riots, Methven said. But he predicted that the riots would only have a "short-term" impact on Chinese businesses' confidence in the UK.

Chinese opinions on the effect of the UK riots are varied. Chen Xiaodan, general manager of UK-based China Holidays Ltd, told China Daily that the riots had little impact on his business.

"We have told all the groups about the unrest, but 10 groups who will travel to the UK in the coming weeks have not cancelled or postponed their trips," Chen said.

Wang Lichao, a Chinese guide who leads a student summer camp from Beijing to the UK, said all the teenagers in his group are not worried about the riots. "They are not scared, even though they witnessed the looting outside their windows in Lewisham, a district in south London," Wang said.

However, Yu Haihong, who also leads a summer camp in London, cancelled a tour of BBC because of safety concerns.

"Some students' parents called me from China. They are very concerned about the situation. This is the first time that the students have been to the UK. Their parents said they prefer to cancel the schedule to make sure their children are safe," Yu said.

Li Ning, 45, a Beijing resident, has kept her eyes glued to the TV in recent days, hoping the situation in London will improve. Her daughter will start college in September at the London campus of New York University (NYU).

"I am not sure whether it is all right for us to arrive there on Aug 20 I am also wondering whether NYU will postpone the start of the semester," said Li, who has already booked flights to London and decided to arrive earlier to help her daughter get familiar with the surroundings.

The riots are also affecting parents who are debating whether to send their children to the UK to study. "What is shown on TV has started to change my mind," said Wang Jiaqi, a Taiwan resident who lives in Brussels with her husband, daughter and son.

Wang said her children are in secondary school in Brussels, and she had planned to send them to the UK for college, mainly because the British have a reputation of being gentle and well behaved. "But the riots showed that the youth in the UK have changed and they are different from their older generation," said Wang.

"I need to think more before making a decision because I don't think my kids can benefit if they study and live with such a young generation," said Wang.

But she added that she believes the riots will have little impact in the long run.

China Daily

(China Daily 08/12/2011 page12)


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