Why would people from China, the world's second-biggest economy, risk their lives to enter the UK?
39 death mystery
Little has been publicly revealed about who the victims were, and how and why they came to be transported across the world in what is believed to be a refrigerated truck.
A murder investigation has been launched, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for those involved in the deaths to be “hunted down and brought to justice.”
But one question has perplexed many: why would citizens from the world’s second-biggest economy travel — either voluntarily or under duress — to the UK in such a way?
Nearly 10 million of the international migrant population of 258 million are Chinese citizens, according to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) — making China the fourth-largest country of origin for international migrants.
Most of these, almost 2.5 million, reside in the US, while there are 712,000 in Canada and 473,000 in Australia.
The country’s rapid economic growth in recent decades has, according to MPI, dramatically expanded China’s “geopolitical and economic footprint across the world.”
In the UK in 2018, for instance, more than 730,000 visas were issued to Chinese nationals — 25% of the 2.9 million total, and a 11% increase on the previous year.