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Embassy of China, London facts for kids

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Embassy of China in London
Building of Chinese Embassy in the Portland Place in London, June 2013 (2).jpg
Location Marylebone, London
Address 49-51 Portland Place, London W1B 1JL
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming

The Embassy of China in London is the diplomatic mission of China in the United Kingdom. The Embassy in London is China's only embassy in the UK, alongside two Consulates-General in Edinburgh and Manchester. Established in 1877 as the Chinese Legation, the London mission was China's first permanent overseas diplomatic mission. It has served as the diplomatic mission of the Qing Empire, Republic of China and (since 1950) the People's Republic of China. It was the location of the Qing Empire's detention of Sun Yat-sen, an important episode in the Chinese revolution of 1911. It remains today the focal point for events relating to China held in the United Kingdom, including celebrations in 2012 to commemorate 40 years of diplomatic relations between the UK and the People's Republic of China.

Most applications by UK citizens for visas to China are not handled by the embassy, however, but are instead processed by the China Visa Applications Centre, also located in London. There is a constant police presence outside the embassy.

China also maintains several other buildings in London: a Defence Section at 25 Lyndhurst Road, Hampstead, a Commercial Section at 16 Lancaster Gate, Paddington, a Cultural Section at 11 West Heath Road, Hampstead and a Science & Technology Section at 10 Greville Place, Maida Vale.

The Embassy has in recent years been the site of protests against actions of the Chinese government, including protests against the imprisonment of artist Ai Weiwei, and in favour of Tibetan independence. There has been a Falun Gong protestor sitting opposite the embassy for many years; this is referenced in the novel Saturday by Ian McEwan.

Unconfirmed rumours have suggested that the Embassy is likely to move from Portland Place to a new development in the Nine Elms area on the south bank of the River Thames, where the Dutch Embassy and the Embassy of the United States are due to relocate.


The Chinese Legation in London was established at 49 Portland Place in 1877 by the Qing Empire, becoming China's first permanent overseas diplomatic mission. As part of the settlement of the Margary Affair, the Qing Empire was required to send an Imperial commissioner to London to apologise in person to Queen Victoria. Guo Songtao, Deputy Minister of Arms, was appointed Minister to Britain and Minister to France in 1876 and sent to London. Guo arrived at Southampton on 12 January 1877. In preparation for his arrival, James Duncan Campbell, non-resident secretary of the Chinese Imperial Customs Service and head of its London office, leased 49 Portland Place, and the Chinese Legation was officially established on Guo's arrival in London on 7 February 1877.

The Legation was the location of the detention of Sun Yat-sen, an important episode in the lead-up to the Chinese revolution of 1911. Sun's detention sparked a major diplomatic incident, but he was eventually released with the help of his friend James Cantlie.

After the 1911 revolution, the Republic of China was established on 1 January 1912 and was recognised by the British government as the legitimate government of China on 6 October 1913. The Republic of China government took over the building from the Qing government, and extended the lease on No. 49 in 1924. In 1926, the Chinese government leased the adjoining 51 Portland Place as well, and obtained a 999-year lease on both No. 49 and No. 51. In 1935, the level of Chinese diplomatic representation in Britain was upgraded, and the Chinese Legation became the Chinese Embassy.

After the revolution of 1949, the UK government for a short time continued to recognise the Republic of China as the legitimate government of China, but in 1950 switched recognition to the People's Republic of China, which inherited the buildings. British authorities agreed to a Chinese request to demolish the buildings and rebuild them as a single building with a sympathetic façade in 1973. The buildings were demolished in 1980, rebuilding took place between 1983 and 1985. The new building, while sympathetic to the original, retains only one doorway in place of the two doorways of the two houses it replaced.


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