In June 1993,a ship named Golden Venture loaded with 286 Chinese stowaways ran aground at Rockway Beach, Queen in New York. After having nearly circled the globe in six months, they began jumping overboard in a frantic attempt to reach the shore. The incident rattled the US which was grappling with the problem of illegal immigrants from Mexico and an economic downturn. Combined with the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, a wave of anti-immigration emotion swept the country.
On the 20th anniversary of the incident, the China Press reflects on the story of Chinese stowaways by interviewing the Golden Venture witnesses, lawyers and survivors in an effort to propel the ongoing immigration reform in the US. Can reform breathe new life into those illegal immigrants and ensure them a decent life?
Voyage to prosperity or peril?
Savior Zhou recounts ordeal
The Golden Venture survivors who were released from prison in the 1990s are indebted to the help of one man who they would never forget.He is Zhou Zehao (周泽浩), now a Chinese American professor at the York College in Pennsylvania.Known as "Savior Zhou" by those illegal immigrants, he shuffled between court, prison and community 20 years ago, offering support and acting as their translator.【More】

A Chinese stowaway with no legal status in US
"The cabin (of the Golden Venture), which was crowded with more than 200 illegal immigrants from China, was just a place for animals to live," Liu Ronggui (alias) told The China Press when he recalled his agonizing experience of being smuggled into the US by a ship 20 years ago.【More】

Chinese stowaways no different from Caucasian immigrants - reporter
“The day when the incident happened, all of the Chinese media based in New York named the stranded ship ‘黄金冒险号(Golden Venture)’, but during the course of the investigation, reporters of US-based China Press (侨报) unanimously decided to rename it ‘金色冒险号’ in their later reports,” recalled Zhu An, now working with the UN, who reported about Golden Venture.
“The stowaways, who risked their lives in the undertaking, boarded the ship with a golden dream, hoping they could reach an ideal land and sail toward a rosy life. They were not just after money,” Zhu emphasized.【More】

In the bleak spring of 1993, the stranding catastrophe of Golden Venture (金色冒险号) shocked whole America.

Golden Venture—a boat built in 1969 with a length of 45 meters—could not accommodate passengers because it was not equipped with living facilities.

In 1992, a trafficker surnamed Li bought the boat for transporting mainland stowaways into the United States by sea.

In February 1993, Golden Venture set sail with 90 stowaways on board, and about another 200 joined them in March when the ship got to Virginia Mombasa.

Then, the ship sailed into the Atlantic Ocean through the Cape of Good Hope. By May 1993, it reached the open water of New York Queens. At that time, the boat had a total of 13 crew members and 286 stowaways from mainland China, which included some 24 females. They were mostly from Fuzhou, Southeast China's Zhejiang province.

The original plan was that a contact in New York would bring a yacht to pick the passengers in the high seas. However, unexpectedly, the contact got killed in a gang fight, and Golden Venture had to wait for a total of two weeks on the sea.

When they were running out of food and water, the trafficker decided to let all people swim for beaches. In the early hours of June 6, Golden Venture finally approached the Rockaway beach of the Queens (皇后区). The 286 stowaways jumped into the sea to swim to the beach. The coast guards soon spotted them and began to make arrests. It was finally found out that 10 got drowned, six escaped and all the rest put under arrest.

Snakehead 'Sister Ping'
Sister Ping: A 'snakehead' with a kind heart
Twenty years after the rusty steamer Golden Venture ran aground only kilometers from New York, exposing a bustling underworld of human smuggling, a woman who federal officials say was a vicious ringleader of the operation completed her own voyage from Asia to America.
Cheng Chui Ping, better known in New York's Chinatown as "Big Sister Ping," was hit with the maximum sentence after being found guilty in a federal court on charges of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling, money laundering and trafficking in ransom proceeds.【More】
"I was almost killed!"

Twenty years after the rusty steamer Golden Venture ran aground only kilometers from New York, exposing a bustling underworld of human smuggling, a woman who federal officials say was a vicious ringleader of the operation completed her own voyage from Asia to America.【More】

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