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COVID surge turns Pearl River smugglers into human traffickers

Hong Kongers and Chinese flee city for mainland by boat as China cracks down

Chinese authorities have seized these boats that were used to smuggle goods and people from Hong Kong to the mainland. (Photo by Yusuke Hinata) 

GUANGZHOU -- A growing outbreak of the omicron coronavirus variant has brought renewed attention to smugglers who carry goods and, increasingly, people between Hong Kong and mainland China.

On a tributary of the Pearl River in Guangzhou dwell more than a hundred small fishermen's boats with their holds exposed and engine rooms emptied.

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