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"HK Family Letter"

28 October 2000

Following is the translation of the "HK Family Letter" delivered by the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr John C Tsang, on Radio Television Hong Kong this morning (Saturday, 28 October 2000)

Dear Wen Xin,

It has been several weeks since we last met. I am very glad to note on the phone that you are enjoying yourself in Kyoto and making significant improvement in your studies. It is a rare opportunity for you to pursue studies in Japan for a period as long as one whole year, during which you can acquire first-hand knowledge of the economic insight of the richest advanced country in Asia, and a profound understanding of an ancient civilization. I am sure you will treasure this opportunity and try your best to garner new experience. I wish you would see the world in a wider perspective, with enhanced appreciation of different cultures and their history when you go back to the States to study next fall.

When the autumn wind blows, you will definitely miss the delicious snake soup. As a Chinese saying goes, "As the autumn wind blows stronger, the three snakes grow fatter". Snakes accumulate fat in fall to prepare for hibernation. But recently there is a kind of snakes with somewhat abnormal behaviour, as they become active when fall approaches. They are the so-called 'human snakes' i.e. illegal immigrants, which have recently become an international concern once again.

Migrant trafficking is a major international issue. This problem is neither solely associated with the Chinese, nor the people of Fujian Province who sneak into U.S. through Hong Kong. It is an issue regardless of nationality and boundary. Hundreds and thousands of people from places like the Middle East, Africa, South America, East Europe and South East Asia move to better-off regions every day. Generally their destinations are well-off western countries, and Hong Kong is one of them.

Mobility of population has been an on-going phenomenon ever since the beginning of human history. I bet you remember the story about Moses and his large group of Jewish people recorded in the Bible, and recently there are reported cases of Vietnamese refugees arriving in Hong Kong and Mexicans sneaking into the States every day. 

It is apparently simple for the problem of illegal migration to be solved thoroughly. If there is peace in the world and people from all countries are leading a comfortable life, then they will not leave their homelands unseeingly to quest for a perfect home on foreign soil. And yet, it really takes the greatest wisdom in order to achieve these ideals.

I do believe that it is very difficult to entirely root out the problem of illegal border-crossing. A few regions have adopted the means of tough enforcement against migrant trafficking, but this can only force the law-breakers to shift their targets and change their transit point for migrant trafficking. With numerous routes of illegal trafficking, the law-breakers will resort to every mode and every channel, by sea, land or air to reach their goals.

Therefore, prior to achieving the stage of Utopia which is free from illegal migrant trafficking, we strive to deliver a strong message to the law-breakers that we are dedicated to intercept the illegal activities of migrant trafficking in the territory. We will spare no efforts in cracking all trafficking channels to make the law-breakers realize the adequate preparation, measures, mechanism and determination of Hong Kong in combating such illegal activities. 

We have adopted a mechanism based on a three-pronged approach, which, though not perfect, is certainly effective and successful in deterring the traffickers. We are trying to address the trafficking problem fully in three aspects:

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