Posted on: March 3, 2022, 01:52h.
Last updated on: March 3, 2022, 01:52h.
A Chinese man who claimed he was trafficked to the Cambodian gambling hub Sihanoukville by a criminal gang and kept as a “blood slave” made the whole thing up, according to Cambodian authorities.
Last month, Li Yayuanlun, 31, said he had been kidnapped by the gang in June after traveling to China’s southwestern region of Guangxi to apply for a security job at a nightclub.
He was then smuggled to Sihanoukville, where he was sold for US$18,500 to another gang. His new captors forced him to work for online gambling and telemarketing fraud schemes targeting mainland China, according to Li’s story, which first appeared in Cambodia’s Asian Pacific Times.
Eventually, when he refused to work, Li claimed the gang discovered he had a rare blood type and began extracting his blood. This was sold online to private buyers, he said.
The gang drained 27 ounces from him every month for six months — a dangerous amount that would have seriously impacted his health.
Widespread Shock in China
Li claimed he managed to escape. He was genuinely admitted to hospital on February 12 with what was described in initial reports as multiple organ failure resulting from his ordeal. His condition was reported as stable.
The story made headlines around the world, not least in China, where it caused widespread shock, according to Chinese state-controled media outlet Global Times.
Such was the story’s impact that the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia demanded local authorities investigate.
The initial inquiry suggested Li’s account was fake, according to a statement by the embassy. It said the story had “misled public opinion and seriously affected social order.”
Cambodian police told the embassy they believed Li had entered Cambodia illegally and had sought a local NGO for help because he was suffering from a serious liver disease.
Police claim three unnamed people from the NGO conspired with Li to concoct the “blood slave” story, although the motive is not clear.
The case will be dealt with by the Cambodian judicial authority, according to the Chinese embassy.
Whether Li’s story is true or false, the issue of human trafficking linked to Cambodia’s underground gambling industry is very real, and Sihanoukville is its epicenter.
Numerous reports have surfaced of people who have been deceived into working for illegal Chinese-facing online gambling operations after answering false job advertisements.
Dozens of people have been rescued over the last year from compounds in Sihanoukville, where they were held in slave-like conditions, beaten, ransomed, and threatened to be sold for slave labor.