Jeffrey LewisHong Kong as Transshipment Point

Irene Jay Liu has a really interesting article in the South China Morning Post on Hong Kong’s role as a transshipment point (subscription only, I am afraid).

The whole article is worth reading, but I really got a kick out of this email exchange between an Iranian going by “Ali” and a Taiwanese businessman, Chen Yi-Lan, who goes by “Kevin.”

Chen broke off contact before the sale was completed but it was enough for investigators to get a search warrant for Chen’s e-mails.According to prosecutors, these e-mails revealed that from early 2007 to early last year, Chen facilitated the export of more than 30 illegal shipments of US commodities to Iran, in many cases by way of Hong Kong.

One e-mail from someone calling himself “Ali” read: “Hello dear Friend Kevin, how are you? I hope best wishes for you. You know we need some connectors that I have attached photos of it for about 60 pieces. Its order code is MS3132H7Y50P. We need male part.

“You know, Iran is under sunction! [sic] So would you please contact following address to see if they have such connector in stock and what about price?”


On August 22, 2009, Chen replied to Ali: “As you know we cannot tell USA this connector is for you. So we have to tell a white lie to USA that this is for our factory in Hong Kong, so USA will ship to our office in Hong Kong. We will ship these 60 pcs of connector to you from Hong Kong by ARAMEX. So please kindly arrange the US$5,300 to the below bank account.”

Ah, yes.  Iran need male part.


  1. FSB (History)

    That’s pretty funny.

    Almost as funny as the exchanges that probably took place in George H. W. Bush’s cabinet about what to do about Richard Barlow since that punk was stopping the US from giving Pakistan the bomb!:

    Team American screwin up the government’s whole pran! 😉

    Happy Carnival, all! Masks are fun, aren’t they?

  2. Janet Simons (History)

    Readers can get a free 14-day trial of the SCMP; no credit card required.

  3. anonymous (History)
  4. George William Herbert (History)

    Found a catalog with a good description (I think, this part isn’t something I’m previously familiar with):

    7 pin, 20 ga wire, pretty well vacuum sealed connector; aviation, defense, and space applications.

    No particular big deal, though denying Iran any US components which are aviation, space, or defense related is policy.

  5. kehe (History)

    I think someone needs to update China on the definition of ‘white lie’…