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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Remarks on the 39 deceased in Essex, UK
2019/10/27

Q: A question about the 39 bodies that were found in the truck just outside London. Are you able to confirm yet whether or not these 39 bodies were Chinese nationals? If you can confirm they were Chinese nationals, do you know where in China they came from? Were they from Fujian Province? Does the Chinese government suspect that they were indeed trying to illegally enter the United Kingdom?

A: I know many are following this like you. We noted the media reports with a heavy heart because it is indeed a sad tragedy.

I'd like to share with you the information I have. Upon noting British media reports on "39 people found dead in Essex" on the morning of October 23 local time, the Chinese embassy in the UK immediately contacted the British side to confirm the identities of the dead. The British police promised to notify the Chinese side as soon as it it has any information.

On October 24, at 10:40am local time or 5:40pm Beijing time, the Chinese embassy received a phone call from the police saying that the dead are believed to be Chinese nationals. The embassy immediately sent officials to gather information on site and asked the British side to confirm all victims' identities as soon as possible and to keep the Chinese side updated.

The Chinese embassy in Belgium also asked the Belgian police and relevant departments to conduct a thorough investigation.

A Chinese consular official from our embassy in the UK arrived in Essex and made contact with the local police on the afternoon of October 24 local time. The British police said they were still verifying the identity of the victims and could not confirm at that moment whether they were Chinese nationals.

The Chinese government attaches great importance to this case. Our relevant departments are working in close collaboration. We hope the British side will confirm the identity of the victims as soon as possible, find out what happened, bring those responsible to justice and properly handle the aftermath. This is all I can update you at the moment.

The British police are working against the clock to verify the victims, but currently they are not able to confirm their nationalities. No matter where they are from, this is a great tragedy that draws international attention on the issue of illegal migrants. The international community should step up cooperation and exchange of intelligence in order to address similar issues at an early stage and prevent a repetition of such tragedies.

 

Q: Regarding the tragedy in the UK, I understand details are limited at this point, but perhaps you can help me with some context in understanding. As you laid out, there have been many successes, advances and progress of the past 70 years with the People's Republic of China, and that was celebrated earlier this month with the national day. Hearing that and then from an outside perspective, what would then motivate people from China to want to leave in such a risky way?

A: You are with CNN, right? You asked this question out of turn and earned no credits at all.

First, like I said earlier to the Reuters journalist, we are in close contact with the British police who are still verifying the identity of the victims and could not confirm whether they were Chinese nationals at this point.

Under the current circumstances, I believe everyone is saddened by the 39 lost souls, wondering what happened to them. We hope all countries will step up cooperation in countering human trafficking and illegal migration, don't we? The urgent task is to find out what actually happened and find ways to address similar issues.

In your question you presumed those victims were Chinese and linked this case with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. This is a problem. It exposes something in your mind or rather, in the mind of some American media that you represent. What kind of answer did you hope to get from that?

Like I said earlier, as we are now in the 70th year after the founding of the PRC, the Chinese people's happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment and security comes at an unprecedented level. All 1.4 billion Chinese are proud of our country's great achievements. If you look around, you'll know that China is not the country with serious illegal immigration issues. In fact, I know that a growing number of foreign friends want to study, travel, work and even live permanently in China. I believe this simple fact speaks volumes.

This is why I think your question is indeed inappropriate.

 

Q: The Global Times, a state-run newspaper, said that the responsibility of these 39 tragic deaths must lie with Britain and other European countries. Is that the view of the Chinese government as well?

A: As you mentioned yourself , this is the view of the Global Times. Did it say this is the view of the Chinese government? No.

Like I said earlier, the Chinese side is in close contact with the British police who are still verifying the identity of the victims.

As you may know, in recent years we saw some serious tragedies involving illegal migrants in Europe and other places, including deaths in foreign countries, which should arouse extensive concerns. Countries need to strengthen communication and coordination to reduce similar tragedies and prevent them from happening.

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