China's embassy in Islamabad has rejected a report by The Associated Press on Pakistani brides being sold to Chinese men, calling it "same old stuff and not true".
A statement by the spokesperson of the Chinese embassy dated December 4, quotes a question pertaining the AP report which claimed that 629 girls and women from across Pakistan had been sold to Chinese men.
The report alleged that women were subjected to physical and sexual abuse, forced fertility treatments and, in some cases, were also pushed into prostitution. Furthermore, AP said that accusations of organ trade had also surfaced in reports drawn up by Pakistan's investigation agencies.
Responding to claims, the Chinese embassy spokesperson said: "The Chinese government will protect legitimate marriages and combat crimes. If any organisation or individual commits a crime in Pakistan under the banner of transnational marriage, China supports the Pakistani side to crack it down according to Pakistani laws.
"Under the joint efforts of the two government, the illegal marriage matching activity has been effectively curbed."
The spokesperson added that the Ministry of Public Security of China had investigated the matter and had found no evidence that Pakistani women, who had stayed in China after marriage to Chinese men, had been forced into prostitution or organ sale.
"Actually, the Chinese side also sent a task force to Pakistan to carry out law enforcement cooperation with the Pakistani side, which is proved to be very effective (sic)," the spokesperson said.
"It is clear that certain media has made groundless story again without full investigation and [irrespective] of the facts. Its intention is very suspicious. We will never allow a few criminals to undermine China-Pakistan friendship and hurt the friendly feelings between two peoples. We also hope that media reports should seek truth from facts, be objective and fair."
In May, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) held scores of Chinese nationals and Pakistani partners for their alleged involvement in fake marriages used to traffic Pakistani women to China for organ removal and sexual exploitation.
An FIA team also raided houses in Lahore where they arrested nine Chinese men, a woman and three local accomplices and rescued two Pakistani brides. The FIA also made arrests in Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
The FIA swung into action after allegations that some Chinese nationals were involved in the sexual exploitation and organ trade of Pakistani women taken to China as brides. Most of the alleged victims were from poor families, Christian and from various cities in Punjab.
The AP report, however, claimed that probe against networks allegedly involved in the "lucrative trade" of selling brides to Chinese men had come to a halt due to “immense pressure” on FIA officials pursuing such cases.
"No one is doing anything to help these girls," AP quoted an official, who requested anonymity. "The whole racket is continuing, and it is growing. Why? Because they know they can get away with it. The authorities won’t follow through, everyone is being pressured to not investigate. Trafficking is increasing now."
In May this year, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, when asked about the trend, had said: "We have to protect our girls and we also have to protect our bilateral relations."
He said that the two sides wanted to avoid the implications of the problem and also wanted to foil the designs of those powers who were fanning the issue. "The element who wants to affect the bilateral relations between Pakistan and China is also playing a role in this," he said.
"We have to handle both the issues and we are trying to resolve them in an amicable manner."