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Beijing seeks information from Taiwan on sea murder
( 2003-08-30 06:54) (China Daily)

The mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) yesterday wrote to its Taiwanese counterpart, asking for help in getting further information about the death of six mainland women that were smuggled to the island.

Two Chinese mainland stowaways weep after being arrested by the Taiwan Coast Guard at Taichung harbour August 26, 2003. At least six illegal mainland immigrants drowned at sea off Taiwan after human smugglers threw them and 15 others overboard to lighten their load so they could speed away from authorities. [HK Edition]
The association asked the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to help provide lists and more information about the women, who drowned after being thrown into the sea by their Taiwanese traffickers in human lives early on Tuesday.

In the one-page letter, ARATS also said the mainland wants any possible clues to the case so that any mainland operatives involved in the case can be arrested at the earliest date possible.

ARATS and SEF are the two quasi-official organizations in charge of cross-Straits ties in the absence of any official links between Beijing and Taipei.

ARATS has been designated to deal with the incident, in which 26 mainland women were dumped overboard by people smugglers on the island's west coast.

Six of the women died and the other 20 were later rescued, according to latest media reports.

An unidentified official with ARATS yesterday said his association had notified the families of the survivors of their condition.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross Society of China is in touch with its Taiwanese counterpart to arrange the repatriation of the 20 survivors, according to the official.

In the first eight months of this year, 1,231 mainlanders smuggled into the island, including 914 women, were sent back to the mainland in eight groups.

Also, a total of 13 illegal Taiwanese immigrants were sent back to the island.

The ARATS official urged the Taiwan authorities to beef up their efforts to crack down on the rampant human trafficking across the Straits by Taiwanese smugglers.

Hundreds of mainland women are lured to Taiwan every year by the promise of high-paying jobs, but most of them end up in prostitution.

In another development, Senior Colonel Cheng Sheng, head of the Provincial Frontier Defence Force of neighbouring Fujian Province, pledged to hit harder at human smuggling.

"We have been consistently taking effective and positive measures to curb human smuggling and severely punish organizers of such crimes and the illegal emigrants,'' Cheng said.

But he stressed that the cleverly-plotted criminal acts of the Taiwanese snakehead gangs have made it hard to eradicate cross-Straits human smuggling.

Colonel Cheng said he would like to see closer co-operation between people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits to facilitate a joint crackdown on such crime.


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