Liver Birds And Laundrymen. Europe's Earliest Chinatown


20050313Gregory Lee, Professor of Chinese at the University of Lyon, returns to his native Liverpool, where his grandfather arrived from China in 1911, to tell a personal history of the earliest Chinese settlement in Europe.

Today a gleaming traditional Chinese arch welcomes people to Liverpool's Chinatown but this overshadows darker stories of fear, exploitation and invisibility.

In Anfield cemetery Lee finds the graves of the Chinese who dug the trenches in the First World War.

He recounts how, after serving Britain in the Second World War, Chinese sailors were deported, and how suspicion persists today in attitudes towards Chinese cockle pickers.

He also exchanges stories with Joe Phillips, the son of a Chinese sailor and a Liverpudlian woman, who, after ignoring it for years, has come to appreciate and explore his Chinese heritage.