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U.S. Department of State, "2010 Trafficking in Persons Report," June 2010

The U.S. Dept of State Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons releases an annual report.
June 1, 2010
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Tier 2 Watch List

China is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children who are subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor and forced prostitution. Women and children from neighboring countries including Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Mongolia, Russia and North Korea, and from locations as far as Romania and Zimbabwe are trafficked to China for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Well-organized international criminal syndicates and local gangs play key roles in both internal and cross-border trafficking. During the year, there was a significant increase in the reported number of Vietnamese and Burmese citizens trafficked in China. Some trafficking victims are kept locked up, and many of them are subjected to debt bondage. Many North Koreans who enter into China are subjected to forced prostitution or forced labor in forced marriages or in Internet sex businesses.

While the majority of trafficking occurs within China’s borders, there are reports that Chinese men, women, and children are subjected to forced prostitution and forced labor in numerous countries and territories worldwide, including the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Malaysia, Taiwan, Angola, Uganda, Ghana, Zambia, Trinidad and Tobago, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa, Chile, Poland, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, the Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, the Maldives, Oman, and Qatar. There were reports of Chinese nationals taking on significant amounts of debt, sometimes amounting to as much as $70,000 to migrate to foreign countries for work, making them extremely vulnerable to debt bondage and situations of trafficking. Concurrent with the increase of Chinese economic activity in Africa, there were some reports of Chinese workers trafficked to Africa by importers and construction firms. Chinese women and girls are also trafficked to Africa for forced prostitution. Experts and NGOs report that China’s population planning policies, coupled with a cultural preference for sons, creates a skewed sex ratio in China, which may contribute to the trafficking of women and children from within China, Mongolia, North Korea, Russia, Burma, Laos and Vietnam for forced marriage, leaving them vulnerable to involuntary domestic servitude or forced commercial sexual exploitation by their spouses.

Internal trafficking is most pronounced among China’s migrant population, which is estimated to exceed 150 million people. Forced labor remains a serious problem, including in brick kilns, coal mines, factories, and on construction sites throughout China. There were numerous confirmed reports of involuntary servitude of children, adults, and migrant workers during the reporting period. As an example, in May 2009, media reports exposed a forced labor case at brick kilns in Anhui province, where mentally handicapped workers were subjected to slave-like conditions. Workers participating in a government-sponsored program to transfer rural labor to jobs in the interior of China, including children, were allegedly coerced into the program through threats or fines for noncompliance, but others participating in the same program said they had not been forced. Authorities in Xinjiang reportedly imposed forced labor on some farmers in predominantly ethnic minority regions. Forced labor was a problem in some drug detention centers, according to NGO reporting. Some detainees were reportedly forced to work up to 18 hours a day without pay for private companies working in partnership with Chinese authorities. Many prisoners and detainees in reeducation through labor facilities were required to work, often with no remuneration. Authorities held individuals in these institutions as a result of administrative decisions. Forced labor also remained a problem in penal institutions.

There continue to be reports that some Chinese children are forced into prostitution, and various forms of forced labor, including begging, stealing, selling flowers, and work in brick kilns and factories; the children of migrants are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. For example, there were reports child laborers were found working in brick kilns, low-skill service sectors and in small workshops and factories. These reports found that the underage laborers are in their teens, typically ranging from 13 to 15 years old, but some are as young as 10 years old. In November 2009, an explosion killed 13 primary school children working in a Guangxi workshop producing fireworks, all of whom were children of migrant workers working in factories in a neighboring province. Work-study programs in various parts of China, often with local government involvement, reportedly engaged child labor, whereby schools supply factories and farms with forced child labor under the pretext of vocational training. In Xinjiang, children were forced to pick cotton for army-based production brigades under the guise of a “work-study” program, according to foreign media reports. There are reports of some students having no say in the terms or conditions of their employment, and little protection from abusive work practices and dangerous conditions. The overall extent of forced labor and child labor in China is unclear in part because the government releases only limited information on the subject.

The Government of the People’s Republic of China does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Although the government ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol during the year, committing itself to bringing its domestic laws into conformity with international standards on trafficking, it did not revise anti-trafficking laws and the National Plan of Action to criminalize and address all forms of labor and sex trafficking. The government reported an increase in the number of “trafficking” offenders prosecuted and victims assisted, however these efforts were based on China’s limited definition of “trafficking,” and the government continues to conflate human smuggling and child abduction for adoption with trafficking offenses. Authorities took steps to strengthen victim protection services and increased cooperation with local NGOs to provide victims access to services in some areas of the country and to provide anti-trafficking training to border guards. Despite these efforts, the government failed to sufficiently address China’s trafficking problem. It did not make significant efforts to investigate and prosecute labor trafficking offenses and convict offenders of labor trafficking, and it did it not sufficiently address corruption in trafficking by government officials. The government lacked a formal, nationwide procedure to systematically identify victims of trafficking. It also failed to provide comprehensive victim protection services to both internal and foreign victims of trafficking throughout the country. Victims are sometimes punished for unlawful acts that were a direct result of their being trafficked – for instance, violations of prostitution or immigration and emigration controls. Chinese authorities continue to forcibly repatriate North Korean trafficking victims, who face punishment upon their return for unlawful acts that were sometimes a direct result of being trafficked. The government’s inadequate data collection system and limited transparency continued to impede progress in recording and quantifying anti-trafficking efforts. For these reasons, China is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for the sixth consecutive year.

Recommendations for China: Revise the National Action Plan and national laws to criminalize all forms of labor trafficking and bring laws into conformity with international obligations; expand proactive, formal procedures to systematically identify victims of trafficking, including labor trafficking victims and Chinese trafficked abroad, and among vulnerable groups such as migrant workers and foreign women and children arrested for prostitution; continue to train law enforcement and immigration officials regarding the identification and treatment of trafficking victims using approaches focusing on the needs of the victim; cease the practice of forcibly repatriating North Korean trafficking victims; devote significantly more resources to victim protection efforts, including funding for shelters equipped to assist victims of trafficking; increase training for shelter workers; increase counseling, medical, reintegration, and other rehabilitative assistance; increase protection services available to male and female, and sex and labor trafficking victims; make efforts to provide access to services for Chinese trafficking victims abroad; increase resources to address labor trafficking, including to improve inspection of workplaces and training for officials working in sectors in which trafficking victims are likely to be found; support legal assistance programs that assist both foreign and Chinese trafficking victims; increase the number of criminal investigations and prosecutions of cases involving trafficking for forced labor, including recruiters and employers who facilitate forced labor and debt bondage; make greater efforts to actively investigate, prosecute, and convict government officials complicit in trafficking crimes; expand upon existing campaigns to reduce the demand for forced labor and commercial sex acts; improve law enforcement data collection efforts for trafficking cases, consistent with the government’s capacity to do so and disaggregated to reflect cases that fall within the definition of trafficking; and undertake systematic research on all forms of human trafficking in China and involving Chinese nationals.

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