FAISALABAD: A Chinese man, who came to Pakistan in connection with the execution of a power project in Haveli Bahadar Shah in Jhang, allegedly established a gang for smuggling Pakistani Christian girls to China against Rs1.8 million to Rs3.5 million per girl.

During the last few days, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) raided various locations in Faisalabad, Lahore and Rawalpindi and arrested some gang members, including Chinese nationals and their Pakistani accomplices.

A special intelligence report of a law enforcement agency mentions that some Chinese nationals had rented out a house in Eden Garden for a monthly rent of Rs30,000. They lived here in connection with some development project that had been completed about nine months ago, but they continued to stay back. They were even provided security by local police.

Following completion of the project, the report said, the Chinese had formed a gang led by Xin Xianhai, who was smuggling Pakistani Christian girls from under-privileged families to China after getting them married to Chinese nationals.

Xianhai invited his brother-in-law, Wang Peng, to Pakistan in August 2018, who is also an active member of the gang. Xianhai, his wife and her father are running a marriage bureau in China from where they sent pictures of Chinese men through messaging application WeChat to their local agents who then shared those pictures with Christian families to convince them for the marriage. The gang received Rs1.8m to Rs3.5m from a Chinese national for his marriage.

Ringleader Xianhai and Peng traced Christian girls through their local agents. The agents were paid Rs50,000 to Rs70,000 if a marriage was fixed and then Xianhai would visit churches in underdeveloped areas along with police security and the agents. During their visit, they assured the Christian families that the Chinese men were Christians and not Buddhist.

The prospective grooms would bear all the expenses of the wedding, the intelligence report says, adding that they also provided financial assistance to their ‘in-laws’. The report mentioned that the Chinese bridegrooms would come to Faisalabad and stay in the Eden Garden house. They paid Rs5,000 to Rs10,000 as daily rent to Xianhai till they returned to China with their ‘wives’.

One of the agents, Tariq Masih of Warispura, managed to fix weddings of Sobia Muqadas of Nazir Colony with Ling Chaochen on Dec 10, Hina Sabir of Shamsher Town, Sargodha, with Hung Hua on Dec 9, Maria with Jiang Hai Bin on Oct 13 and Mariam with Chin Chin Cown on Nov 5.

Another girl, Natasha Robin, of Ibn-i-Maryam Colony married Lee Changli on Sept 23. She remained in China for a couple of days and then returned to Pakistan claiming she was being forced into objectionable activities. Upon refusal, she was subjected to torture, the report stated.

The report further said that another agent, Nadeem, also received hundreds of thousands of rupees for identifying Christian girls for Chinese ‘bridegrooms’. He arranged the wedding of Saira of Nawabanwala with Dong Hya Hain, however, the “couple” parted ways soon. Saira sought divorce and returned to Pakistan. Noreen Kanwal’s wedding was also fixed with Xin Xianan on Jan 3, 2018, and Samia’s with Chen Yi Bin on Aug 3.

Not only Pakistan, but some other countries had also discovered women being trafficked from there to China.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) mentioned in one of its reports that hundreds of Myanmar women and girls were tricked into travelling to China through promises of employment only to be sold off to Chinese families as brides and held in sexual slavery often for years. Those who escaped often had to leave their children behind. Journalists documented similar forms of bride trafficking from Cambodia, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam, it mentioned.

In a statement issued on April 26, the HRW called on China and Pakistan to take action to end bride trafficking following increasing evidence that Pakistani women and girls are at risk of sexual slavery in China.

The FIA sources said that some Chinese nationals and their accomplices had been arrested during a marriage ceremony, which was underway at a hotel in D Ground, People’s Colony a couple of days ago. Those arrested were interrogated during which they revealed that the gang had sound connections with the locals.

They said their local connections had been playing an instrumental role in convincing under-privileged Christian parents to marry off their daughters to Chinese nationals who they were told were wealthy.

More gang members would be arrested in the coming days, the sources claimed.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2019