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We were forced to jump, say Chinese women

The Straits Times - AUG 28, 2003 THU

TAIPEI - One by one, 26 helpless Chinese women were forced to jump into the sea.

Those who refused were dragged by their hair and tossed overboard like sacks of garbage.

It was a nightmarish ending for these young women from China who were lured to Taiwan by the prospects of a better life.

Eight of them managed to swim ashore while 12 others were later rescued by Taiwan's Coast Guard. But six unfortunate ones did not even have the chance to see for themselves what Taiwan looks like.

Recounting her close brush with death, Ms Wu Jing, a 21-year-old Sichuan native, said: 'Two men on the boats carried us up forcibly and dumped us into the sea when they saw the Coast Guard coming. Those who refused to budge were kicked into the water.

'Some of us cried and told them we couldn't swim, but they ignored our pleas, dragged us by our hair and pushed us out into the sea,' she told the Chinese-language Apple Daily.

Ms Xu Zhengzheng, 18, managed to stay afloat by treading water.

'I kept telling myself, ' I must live, I must live',' the Hubei native told the paper.

Another survivor, identified as Ms Xu Zhengzheng, told cable station Formosa Television: 'One woman shouted 'Help, help, I can't swim', but after she went into the water, there was only silence.'

These women, lured by offers of well-paid jobs, each paid the people-smugglers around NT$200,000 (S$10,000) to take them to the island.

They left China's south-east Fujian province in two speed boats last Friday. For three days, they had to go without food or water.

Just as they were nearing Taiwan, their boats were spotted on the radar by the island's Coast Guard in the waters off Tunghsiao, a coastal town in western Taiwan.

In a bid to escape, the smugglers started throwing the women off the boats to reduce their load. 'We were planning to rescue people, but it turned out that we were retrieving dead bodies in the end. These snakeheads are worse than beasts!' said a Coast Guard official who took part in the rescue effort.

Police said they arrested four of the alleged people- smugglers, all Taiwanese, on the Penghu islands on Tuesday.

Chinese women are drawn to Taiwan every year by promises of lucrative work, but they often end up as prostitutes. -- AP, AFP

One of the six Chinese women who did not make it. Those who refused to jump into the sea were thrown overboard by the people-smugglers. -- APPLE DAILY

Thrown overboard and left to drown


The Straits Times - AUG 28, 2003 THU

THIS young China woman's dreams of a new life came to a tragic end when she tried to enter Taiwan illegally.

She is being carried from the sea by a diver after drowning when people smugglers whom she had paid NT$200,000 (S$10,260) threw her and 25 other mainland women overboard when the Taiwanese Coast Guard spotted them on Tuesday.

Survivors said the 'snakeheads' ignored their screams and pleas as some of them could not swim.

Six of the women drowned. Some made it to shore while others were rescued by the coast guard.