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Last Updated: Monday, 3 March 2008, 16:28 GMT
Chinese restaurants 'threatened'
Chinese restaurant worker
Businesses say there is a labour shortage in Chinese restaurants
Chinese restaurants in London may have to close as a result of new immigration laws, business owners have warned.

At a London meeting they said a Chinese labour shortage would be made worse by new rules which limit the entry of low skilled workers from outside the EU.

Chinese Immigration Concern Committee spokesman Jabez Lam said the situation could bring about a "meltdown of the Chinese economy" in Britain.

The Home Office said the system managed migration in the national interest.

Points system

Last week the government announced a new points-based system for migrants from outside the EU.

It will enable highly skilled workers to accumulate sufficient points to apply to work in the UK. But workers classed as "low skilled" will be barred from seeking work in the UK for the foreseeable future.

The Chinese Immigration Concern Committee said this would prevent numerous restaurant workers from China coming to the UK.

On Monday hundreds of Chinese business owners gathered at Friends Meeting House in Euston, central London, to protest against the new rules.

They said it would exacerbate labour shortages already experienced by Chinese businesses in London.

The fact of the matter is Chinese catering is a very hard job
Chinese Immigration Concern Committee spokesman Jabez Lam

Jabez Lam said: "Many Chinese restaurants and Chinese takeaways will have to seriously consider closing down or scaling down their operation.

"The fact of the matter is Chinese catering is a very hard job. People have tried to recruit from job centres or through Job Centre Plus - they are not able to help."

The Chinese Immigration Concern Committee is asking Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to reconsider the immigration rule changes, with its members sending her a petition written on rice bowls.

A Home Office spokesman said the new immigration system did not specifically target workers from China.

"Our objective is to manage migration in the national interest, striking the right balance between safeguarding the interests of the UK resident workforce and enabling UK employers to recruit or transfer skilled people from abroad in order to help them compete effectively in an international market," she said.

"The new points-based system for managing migration will simplify the rules, ensuring that that those with the right skills to benefit Britain can come here to contribute."

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Chinese businesses say many venues will have to close down



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29 Feb 08 |  UK Politics

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