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Wednesday, 11 October, 2000, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
China backs anti-trafficking plan
Chinese aliens detained
Illegal immigration is a multi-million dollar business
China has announced it is to sponsor an international initiative against human smuggling at next week's Asia-Europe summit in South Korea.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jieyi said the proposal, part of a package of measures designed to crack down on international crime, was aimed at improving co-operation between Asian and European countries.

Trafficking in people has attracted increased international attention since 58 illegal Chinese immigrants were found suffocated to death in a lorry on arrival at the British port of Dover in June this year.

Since then, a series of smuggling rings have been exposed, bringing Chinese immigrants into Europe and North America through a variety of routes.

Announcing the move, Mr Liu said people smuggling was not just a Chinese issue, and that it was important for governments to work together to combat the problem.

'Common problem'

Dover
The bodies of 58 Chinese illegal immigrants were found in a UK-bound lorry in June
"It's a common problem, both in Asia and Europe, and is not exclusive to any member states," he said.

Last month, UK police confirmed that they had successfully identified all 58 illegal immigrants found dead in the back of the lorry.

The breakthrough came after a team of detectives travelled to China to interview relatives of the dead.

All the deceased came from four villages in the southern Chinese province of Fujian and were aged between 16 and 43.

The Asia-Europe summit, taking place in Seoul, will bring together heads of state from 25 Asian and European countries as well as the president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi.

China has also announced that it will propose initiatives against corruption, which would be co-sponsored by Britain, and one on environmental protection.

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See also:

27 Jun 00 | Europe
Illegal immigrants: UK overview
07 Jul 00 | Americas
US and China combat human smuggling
12 Aug 99 | Americas
The deadly trade of human smuggling
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