The Hong Kong Government has refused to allow a Panamanian ship carrying 2,700 Vietnamese refugees to dock.
The Hong Kong Government has refused to allow a Panamanian ship carrying 2,700 Vietnamese refugees to dock. The Taiwan-owned vessel Huey fong picked up the refugees while on its way from Bangkok back to Taiwan.
SYNOPSIS: The Huey Fong first contacted Hong Kong by radio when it was 200 miles (321.8 kilometres) from the British colony. The captain was told he could not dock, and the authorities backed their order that the ship stand clear by despatching a gunboat. Near the southern Hong Kong island of Po Toi the order was made to leave.
Hong Kong officials argued that the colony was not the ship's first port of call, but they gave the refugees provisions including brandy and cigarettes. Six of them were picked up by helicopter for medical treatment. One was a woman who gave birth to a baby girl on Christmas eve (24 December). The others pleaded to be allowed ashore.
The crowded British enclave of Hong Kong has had to deal this year with an influx of thousands of legal immigrants from China. This has threatened to strain the housing, education and social welfare programmes. In addition about 4,000 Vietnamese have been given three-month temporary visas after making perilous voyages in junks across the South China Sea. But these refugees have found the government has drawn the line.