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The hidden stories of Britain’s Chinatowns

Threatened by the pandemic, Britain’s Chinatowns have a rich, but often forgotten, history

By Rebecca Liu   June 2021

On a crisp morning in February, I headed to London’s Chinatown. It was the first day of Chinese New Year, and festive lanterns had been strung up to mark the occasion. Beneath the red and green arched gate at the entrance on Gerrard Street, a red banner announced Kung Hei Fat Choy (a New Year greeting) in golden lettering. I remembered walking here with my mother a few years earlier. The streets were bursting with people and chatter. We went into one heaving restaurant after another looking for a table, before resorting to an upmarket option we thought we’d ruled out. But this morning few pedestrians lined the streets and the odd open restaurants were only selling takeaway. One sign of life was a bakery emitting warm smells of bread and char siu barbecue. “It’s been like this for a long time,” the woman behind the till told me…

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