With details emerging about the 39 Chinese nationals found dead in a truck near London, the enormity of human trafficking has been highlighted. It was on October 23 that emergency workers found the bodies inside the refrigerated container of a truck. Parked in an industrial area, it had arrived shortly on a ferry from Belgium. Outraged by the mishap, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it an “unimaginable tragedy.” Among the dead, 31 were men and eight women. No less outrageous is Beijing’s reaction to the tragedy, as we shall see.
“The grim discovery has drawn attention to the shadowy people trafficking business and efforts to stem the flow of illegal migrants to Britain,” AFP reported. “Police also confirmed that officers had searched three properties in Northern Ireland overnight in connection with the investigation. The addresses are believed to be linked to the truck driver, a 25-year-old man from the province, who was arrested at the scene in Grays, east of London.”
This is not the first of such tragedies. In 2000, Dover, England, 58 Chinese migrants had suffocated in a truck, having made a dangerous months-long journey from China’s southern Fujian province. They came with a cargo of tomatoes from Zeebrugge, the same Belgian port from which the latest victims came.
“Groups of migrants have repeatedly landed on English shores using small boats to make the risky Channel crossing, and migrants are sometimes found in the back of cars and trucks that disembark from the massive ferries that link France and England,” AP reported. “But Wednesday’s macabre find in an industrial park was a reminder that criminal gangs are still profiting from large-scale trafficking.”
Typically, the Chinese government has heaped the entire blame on the Britain and other European countries. The state-run Global Times said that the European authorities must accept some responsibility for the deaths of 39 people. At the moment it was impossible to say how much responsibility the dead should bear for the tragedy, the Chinese newspaper said in an editorial. “But such a serious humanitarian disaster has occurred under the eyes of the British and Europeans. It is clear that Britain and relevant European countries have not fulfilled their responsibility to protect these people from such a death.”
Even if found to have been smuggled into the country, the victims’ death was not their fault, added the paper. “We hope that Britain and European countries will put into effect their various commitments to human rights and make due efforts for Chinese people to be free from abuse and sudden death.”
China talking about other countries not fulfilling their international commitments is like Dawood Ibrahim accusing India of not maintaining law and order! Here is a country which doesn’t care two hoots about either international law or jihadist terror. Never was hypocrisy as egregious.
A few years ago, it willfully disregarded the international court’s decision which went against it, and favored the Philippines. In recent times, it has shamelessly shielded the global terrorist Hafiz Saeed and supported Pakistan, which exports terror. And now, China is lecturing European nations about international commitments.
In Hong Kong, China is ruthlessly suppressing pro-democracy activists, eliciting global condemnation. US Vice President Mike Pence correctly accused China of curtailing “rights and liberties” in Hong Kong (see box). “Hong Kong is a living example of what can happen when China embraces liberty,” he said. “And yet, for the last few years, Beijing has increased its interventions in Hong Kong and engaged in actions that curtail the rights and liberties that Hong Kong’s people were guaranteed through a binding international agreement.”
And yet, Beijing has the cheek to preach Britain and European countries to “put into effect their various commitments to human rights.”
The very fact that so many Chinese are leaving their own country speaks volumes about not just economic misery they have to suffer at the hands of the communist government but also the absence of civil liberties and democratic rights over there. This is not to say that there are no illegal migrations from other countries; from India too a lot of people try to move to greener pastures. But they do that primarily because of economic factors; nobody leaves India because they feel stifled here. India is not a prison like China.
Instead of blaming the rest of the world for the plight of its people, the Chinese government should mend its ways. Otherwise, illegal migrations, and similar accidents, will continue to happen.