Minority? A review of British Chinese Numbers

With the current influx of Chinese flocking to the UK for education and business, there’s little doubt that China’s ties with the United Kingdom are becoming stronger. 

Nee Hao have asked ChineseJobsUK to complete a review of all the available statistics on Chinese in the UK, for the purposes of this article and for further analysis and discussion. 

The review 

In terms of geographical distribution, the Chinese tend to be more decentralised and widely dispersed as compared to other ethnic minorities in Britain. Most of the Chinese live in the main urban cities. In fact, 33% of them are living in London while 11% live in the North West, and 13% reside in the South East.

Although the Chinese are an ethnic group with a high visibility in the UK, it is not to say they were all born from China. The birthplace of the Chinese living in the United Kingdom is also widespread, with 29% born in Hong Kong, 25% in England, 19% in Mainland China, 8% in Malaysia, 4% in Vietnam, 3% in Singapore, and 12% from other countries outside of the UK.

In terms of language, approximately one-fourth of the total Chinese population speak Mandarin Chinese, while two-thirds speak Yue Chinese or Cantonese as a first language as per data gathered by Ethnologue (www.ethnologue.com). The predominance of Cantonese can be explained by Britain’s occupation of Hong Kong, which was handed over to China in 1997 and is further supported by the emigration of Chinese from Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. However, with further arrival of the Chinese from Mainland China, not to mention the boom of China’s economy, Mandarin Chinese will surely overtake the use of Cantonese in these areas.

Unlike other minorities where they have a specific religious affiliation, most of the Chinese in the UK surprisingly do not have any religion at all. Only 15.1% of their population consider themselves as Buddhists, 25.1% are Christians, and 52% of them reportedly do not have any religious affiliation.

Lately, most of the Chinese migrants are transient, with them coming to the UK only to study or to look for work. The Chinese actually have the highest proportion as students (about a third of the total population) and the lowest in occupation that are routine or manual (17%) among all ethnic groups in the UK. As China’s economy is steadily increasing, so do the opportunities for the Chinese to get long-term jobs in Britain in a variety of ways such as translation, IT and even decoding implicit cultural language which would definitely profit the United Kingdom.

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An article from Chinatownlogy (http://www.chinatownology.com/overseas_chinese_uk.html) reveals that although the Chinese in the UK remain a small portion of the population, they are represented in all aspects of professional life. A lot of Chinese professionals are clearly visible as journalists, actors, artists, and even in the world of business and finance, and in education. They also stand out in areas of Mathematics and the Sciences.

As a group, they are widespread in the whole of the United Kingdom, and they will always remain a dynamic part of the ever-changing British mosaic as more and more Chinese flock to the UK.

This article was written for Nee Hao Magazine by ChineseJobsUK, a free online resource to help Mandarin and Cantonese speakers find jobs in the UK.

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