Police have detained nine South Asian men who came ashore in the remote village of Sham Wat, south-west Lantau, last week.
The nine, including two from Afghanistan, had flown legally to Guangzhou, where they had hired a snakehead to bring them to Hong Kong.
Local residents called police after they found none of the men could speak Cantonese. One of them had asked in English for a cab to go to “the city,” Oriental Daily News reported.
Of the nine men, five were from Pakistan and two were from Bangladesh. All had passports.
The two Afghani arrivals may take the opportunity to apply for refugee status, though police say they have not yet filed any claims. The country is the second largest source of refugees after Syria.
It was the second batch of illegal immigrants from south Asia to arrive on Lantau this month. Police arrested six men on January 3.
With its location on the Pearl River mouth, Lantau historically has been an active site of smuggling, including the trafficking of people. But that has largely dried up in the last dozen years as Hong Kong has opened its borders to mainland visitors.
Apart from Lantau, Sai Kung and northern New Territories have also been destinations. Another group of 13 were found at Sha Tau Kok in north-east N.T. on January 12.
The arrivals come amid a backdrop of public contention over “fake refugees.” Another Oriental Daily article says police plan to step up marine patrols against what they expect will be increasing numbers of south Asians illegally entering the city. The paper says the city must be vigilant to prevent “fake refugees” and terrorists gaining a beach-head here.
Last week CY Leung suggested Hong Kong could exit the UN torture treaty UNCAT as a means of preventing refugee arrivals. A columnist in Hong Kong Free Press has described this as “bigotry.”