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Chinese tourist mistaken for refugee in Germany, stuck in refugee camp for 12 days

By Shi Jing (People's Daily Online)    13:49, August 09, 2016

A Chinese tourist who lost his wallet while traveling unwittingly applied for asylum in Germany.

The 31-year-old backpacker, who speaks neither German nor English, reported that he "needed help" after arriving at the Stuttgart airport on July 4. The man, who had planned to travel around Europe during his vacation, was taken to a reception center in the nearby town of Heidelberg. There, instead of filling out a stolen item form for his wallet, the man unknowingly filled out an asylum request form.

The mistake triggered a series of events. First, authorities took away the man's passport and presented him with refugee documents. He was then transported nearly 200 miles to Düsseldorf, in the west of the country, and then a further 50 miles north to Dülmen.

He was given a medical check, had his fingerprints taken and accepted the pocket money given to him by camp officials.

A German Red Cross worker, Christoph Schlütermann, was the first to realize that a mistake had been made. He went to a local Chinese restaurant for help, and was advised to use a mobile phone translation app to communicate with the tourist.

Schlütermann explained, "He acted so differently from other refugees. He kept trying to talk to people to tell his story but no one could understand him. He kept asking to get his passport back, which is the opposite of what most refugees do.

“I spoke into the app in German, and the phone translated it into Mandarin. But when I received his reply, I got the curious response, ‘I want to go walking in Italy,’" Schlütermann told the German newspaper Dülmener Zeitung.

After 12 days in Germany, the man was finally able to set off for France and Italy. Prior to his departure, he said he was not mad about his stay in Germany, but that, "It isn't how I imagined Europe."

The Chinese embassy in Germany offered a statement on Aug. 8 saying that they had not received any inquiries about the case from German authorities. They are still discussing the case with local authorities.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor: Shi Jing,Bianji)

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