China launches probe into 142 cross-border marriages: envoy


–Lijian says 142 women have applied for visa in 2019 so far compared to 140 in last year

China has withheld visas of 90 “Pakistani brides” while launching a probe into 142 cross-border marriages took place in 2018 after reports emerged that Pakistani girls were taken to China for alleged sexual exploitation and organ harvesting.

In an interview with UrduNews, Lijian Zhao, deputy chief of mission at Chinese Embassy, hinted at an increase in the number of Pakistani women seeking visas for China.

“Last year, about 142 Pakistani women applied for wedding visas after marrying Chinese nationals while this year, so far, 140 Pakistani brides have applied for such visas,” the envoy said.

The envoy, however, rejected that Pakistani women were being subjected to forced prostitution and organ sale in China.

“Lies are being spread on the internet and the media. They are talking about Pakistani girls being sent to China for forced prostitution or the sale of organs. That is totally fabricated and for sensational purposes, he said.

He said that out of 142 marriages, only a few isolated cases of harassment or torture have been reported. All the marriages, however, were legal and registered after due process.

The envoy mentioned a complaint by a Pakistani wife, who wrote a letter to a Pakistani minister complaining that she was subjected to torture.

After the letter, he said, the Chinese authorities probed the matter but found no evidence of torture. However, the couple decided to go for divorce after which the Chinese government provided the woman a bullet train ticket and air ticket and she was repatriated on May 2.

Lijian asked the Pakistani government to “review its visa on arrival policy for Chinese businessmen” as some marriage bureaus in Pakistan are “misusing” it.

He said the Pakistani authorities should probe the role of those institutions and chambers of commerce and industries which are inviting fake businessmen who are actually coming to Pakistan in search of wives.

The envoy said that a mechanism has been devised during a recent visit of a Chinese task force to Pakistan, under which any Pakistani can seek help from Chinese authorities via telephone in connection with the marriages. “The government of China and police will help if there is any problem.”

Over the past two weeks, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested scores of Chinese nationals and their suspected local accomplices in connection with its investigation into a transnational gang allegedly involved in contracting fake marriages between Chinese men and Pakistani women, who are allegedly forced into prostitution and the illegal organ trade in China.

In Lahore, FIA officials raided the hideouts and arrested 21 Chinese nationals and their two Pakistani abettors, believed to be involved in the matter.

In Faisalabad, 34 people, including 33 Chinese men, were arrested who were sent on judicial remand. During the investigation, they have confessed that they used to take money for contracting marriages of Pakistani girls.

In Islamabad, 20 people were taken into custody by the concerned authorities, while 14 of whom were sent on judicial remand. Six other people are under the custody of the FIA.

In Mandi Bahauddin, authorities conducted joint inquiry and detained a woman, hailing from Lahore, a Chinese man, and their alleged facilitator. Five families had contracted marriages of their girls with Chinese men for ‘bright future’, but their dreams faded away.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Office issued a statement, saying relevant authorities from both the governments are in close contact on this issue.

“The government of China had offered all possible cooperation on the issue, which was highly appreciated. Both sides are closely coordinating their efforts.” Dr Faisal said that “a Chinese team visited Pakistan recently and held meetings with our law enforcement officials.”

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan Missions in China are closely monitoring the situation and extending all possible assistance to Pakistani citizens who may have any complaints on the subject,” he added.