Santa’s Big Helper > sailing from China


This is the floating treasure trove bringing Christmas to Britain from China. At a quarter of a mile long and 200 feet high, the Emma Maersk is the world’s biggest ship.

It’s packed to the brim with 1,886,000 Christmas decorations, and gifts including 12,800 MP3 players, 742 boxes of handbags, 334 crates of cocktail shakers, 9000 pairs of trainers, 2120 packs of books and 87,150 sets of hair straighteners. One British importer has ordered 1740 crates full of sudoko games, nursery rhyme books, jigsaws and soft toys.

And the giant vessel is also loaded with thousands of Christmas crackers, radio-controlled cars and motorbikes, guitars, cuddly toys, pinball machines, computers, poker tables, bingo sets, drum kits, dancing gorillas, electronic dinosaurs and pre-school building blocks. There are also 40,000 rechargeable AA batteries to power up the kids’ pressies.

For those of us who don’t like turkey, the Emma Maersk is groaning under the weight of 150 tons of New Zealand lamb, 10 tons of mussels and crateloads of frozen chickens, pumpkins, swordfish and tuna. And if you fancy a cuppa before you doze off in front of the Queen’s speech, you’ll be glad to hear that the 170,000-tonmaritimemonster is carrying 22,280 kg of Vietnamese tea.

The Danish-built Emma Maersk is on its maiden voyage. It set sail from Yantian port in southern China last month, manned by just 13 crew, and is now sailing past Spain on its way to Felixstowe in Suffolk. It’s due to arrive on Saturday and its cargo will help fuel yet another multi-billion-pound Christmas spending frenzy.

But critics warn that the flood of imports from China will mean the sack for hundreds of thousands of workers in Europe. Green MEP Caroline Lucas said: “All these goods could have been made in Europe. Whole sectors of global trade are now being dominated by China. “This is a triumph for multinational capital, not for Chinese workers. As well as suffering from some of the worst labour exploitation on record, they are also losing jobs at a phenomenal rate.”