RIZHAO, CHINA—Harboring dreams for a better life and fleeing years of economic hardship back home, a small band of weary Americans confirmed they had completed a perilous journey across the ocean this week, landing their wooden sailing ship on the bright, promising coastline of China.

Sources said the vessel’s 102 emigrants, haggard from the nearly 10-week sea voyage as well as years of suffering and inequality in their native country, were overcome with emotion upon first laying eyes on China, which, according to rumors often retold by the ship’s passengers, is a vast and bountiful land of opportunity.

“It is truly a blessing to start a new life in a place of such unbounded prosperity and plenty,” said 43-year-old émigré Bart Willard, adding that in his American homeland he had once been a construction worker but, like many of his shipmates, had gone years without work. “There was nothing left for us in the old country. Few trades were available to honest workers, most of us couldn’t afford our own dwellings, and our lives were plagued by routine deadly violence. That’s no way for anyone to live.”

“We’ve come here searching for a piece of the Chinese dream,” he added, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye. “Here, they say, anything is possible if you work hard for it.”

According to the ship’s manifest, the emigrants set sail from the squalid port city of Los Angeles in early December with nothing to sustain them on the long westward journey but their hopes for a brighter future in China, a hold full of firearms, and 100 tons of their native highly processed foodstuffs.

While the travelers said they knew the passage would be trying and hazardous, they called it their “last, best hope” and bid a sad farewell to their ancestral regions of Michigan, Nevada, and the Buffalo, NY metropolitan area.

The Americans reportedly braved an array of harrowing obstacles aboard their cramped boat, from fierce storms to illness to the irremediable exhaustion of the batteries in their mobile devices. More than two dozen are believed to have perished along the way, mostly from diseases easily preventable by medications not covered by insurance programs in their mother country.

“In America, I would toil day and night, but I could barely provide for my family, let alone get ahead,” said Barb Topolski, explaining the strict class divisions and social immobility she had fled. “We were neglected and left to fend for ourselves. And unless you were among the wealthy elite, you had to endure the same miserable conditions for life.”

“When I looked into the eyes of my young children, I knew I could never bear to see them grow up hopeless and downtrodden like everyone else in our village,” the St. Louis native continued. “There was no future there for us—or for anyone, really.”

While excited to have escaped their nation’s faltering government and widespread ill health, the surviving passengers expressed caution about carving out new lives halfway across the world. Many confided their wariness about the indecipherable language of the natives, while others lamented their near total lack of education on the faraway country, or, for that matter, on any country besides the land of their birth.

In spite of their worries, each of the new immigrants to China expressed a deep gratitude for the opportunity to provide their children with a better life.

“It’s a relief to know my kids and grandkids will never have to know anything of the stagnation, decay, and bitter divisiveness of life back in the United States,” said Topolski, smiling as she surveyed the shores of the promising new country. “We’re just so lucky never to have to set foot in that blighted, backward land ever again.”

Within 24 hours of landing, sources confirmed, the band of Americans had become embroiled in a contentious dispute with the natives and shot 21 of them dead.