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Chinese History: Emigration of Wives and Families

Chain emigration was curtailed by successive legislative restrictions. The 1968 Commonwealth Immigrants' Act placed strict qualifications on New Commonwealth citizens' rights to enter and settle in Great Britain while the 1971 Immigration Act virtually ended all primary immigration.

The 1970s saw the third-phase emigration which was marked by the arrival of increasing numbers of wives and children as dependants of the men who had settled here in the UK. This was not simply a natural consequence of previous male immigration but also a necessary measure for Chinese catering business to lower their prices in order to remain competitive a gainst the diffusion of cost-cutting technology throughout the industry (Baxter, 1986). By the employment of women and children at cheaper - or even free - rates, Chinese catering establishments managed to make big savings on labour.

In the last twenty years a large number of Chinese settlers have come on political rather than economic grounds. In the 70s some of the 'Boat People' from Vietnam rescued in the Hong Kong waters were allowed to live in the UK as refugees.

The Tienanmen Square incident in June 1989 enabled students from Mainland China to claim political asylum in the UK.

With the approach of 1997 when Hong Kong sovereignty was to be returned to China, Hong Kong people started to migrate to other countries. including the UK. In 1990 under the Hong Kong National Act, a scheme was set up to grant 50,000 Hong Kong families the right of abode in the UK.