This book is something very special for me. I am a UK resident of Chinese origin. Those people and their stories in Pai's book reminded me of my friends from that 'status-less' part of the world in UK, my hairdressers, porters at Chinese grocery stores I've visited etc. They give their blood to this country's economy every day. They've been treated hostily in return. I've heard so many times that my local (UK) friends and colleagues complainting about these people wasting NHS money. Do you have any idea that out of the 170k to 200k Chinese illeagal immigrants probably less than 0.01% of them would ever dare to come into light and expose themselves in the NHS system in fear of deportation. (I know this for a fact because I work as a freelance interpreter in the public sector.) Majority of them are forced to be invisible. They work commonly around 12 hours a day and 6 to 7 days a week with no holiday pays. My friend Mrs Zou's husband was not even allowed to take a day off when she was delivering a baby. They actually have work permit but UK government's plicy about work permit means they are equally open to be exploited by their employer. (The reasons are explained very clearly in Pai's extrodinary book.)
The common view about human rights in China has always been that when the American's talk about human rights they are using it against China but when the Europeans (especially the British) talk about human rights with China they mean it. But I am a bit disillusioned now. What I see here is that we have double standands. We only respect the basic human rights if the people in question have proper documents.
Why does it take 5 or even 10 years to consider someone's asylum seeking case? Is the government conveniently slowing down the process to ensure Britain having a steady pool of cheap labour whose lives are cheaper than ours and whose rights can be ignored. The thought of this is frightening!
If you have ever bought a pack of salad at supermarket then you owe these people to read this book. If you care about justice and lives of others you need to read this book. You will get angry about what you are about to discover and you might even want to do something. You definitely will from now on look at these odd and peasant-behaved people on the street in the shops with different eyes.