Colindale shopping centre, "Oriental City", has become the nexus of an international dispute. The beloved Edgeware Road mall, which has been called London's "real Chinatown", may be knocked down later this year and replaced with a B&Q home improvement superstore, some flats, a school, and a bunch of other crap. The Chinese consul general, Jiang Yuansong, has written to Mayor of London Ken Livingstone to express his "deep concern" about the project.
If the redevelopment plan by London-based Development Securities PLC goes through, Oriental City businesses will have to be relocated – probably for several years – and their future afterwards is dubious.
The mayor is saying he will review the situation, and listen to all involved parties. But he insists he 'will not be intimidated by Beijing's sabre-rattling!'
Meanwhile, Beijing is sending two aircraft carrier groups to the Channel and has already petitioned the French government for use of its airbases.
The Mayor is urging calm and insists the situation will be resolved through diplomatic channels. Londonist has learned, however, that the British embassy in Beijing has ordered all non-essential personell to evacuate and surface-to-air missiles have been deployed around Colindale.
Oriental City is also well-known for its non-Chinese establishments. Its famous food court features Japanese, Malaysian, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine, and the oldest store in Oriental City is a Japanese tableware shop.
Detachments of Vietnamese troops have deployed alongside regulars of the Chinese army to bases in Ireland and Belgium. Japanese and Thai military officials insist that their recent activities in the Atlantic are part of "routine maneuvers".
Representatives of Piccadilly's Gerrard Street Chinatown could not be reached for comment.