Business sense versus the Yellow Peril.

The business case for encouraging more Chinese tourists to the UK appears not to be strong enough to convince Home Secretary Theressa May, to make it easier for Chinese tourists to enter the UK, worryingly raising the ghost of the ‘yellow peril’ by citing national security concerns.

A tourist visiting Britain will spend an average of£567, however, Chinese tourists spend three times that amount, averaging £1,700. Had the same number of Chinese tourists visited Britian as France last year it would have injected an extra £1,786,700,000 (yes, almost £1.8 billion) into the British economy; but it is not just the loss of a much-needed boost to the economy that should concern us.

Suggesting that the Chinese people pose a threat to national security is difficult to understand. Neither France, Germany nor any of the twenty-plus countries that require just a single Schengen visa to visit have such qualms. Even the twitchy USA employed an extra 50 visa processing staff at its Beijing Embassy earlier this year and relaxed its visa requirements in order to attract more Chinese tourists, so no sign of any “national security” concerns there either! Sadly we should be under no doubt that the Home Secretary’s words will be heard in Beijing, and they won’t be making Britain any friends.

Meanwhile Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, has just launched an £8m campaign to try to attract more Chinese tourists to the UK. Last year 1.2 million Chinese tourists traveled as far as France; getting them across the Channel surely can’t be that hard… except they won’t have visas!

What we are left with is a lose-lose situation, with a gratuitous face-losing swipe at the Chinese thrown in for good measure. With regret we return to a familiar sight, with an avoidable lack of understanding of China and the Chinese once again resulting in unnecessary damage to Britain’s standing with such an important economic partner.

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