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U.S. Department of State, "2013 Trafficking in Persons Report," June 19, 2013

The U.S. Dept of State Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons releases an annual report.
June 19, 2013

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Tier 3 Watch List

China is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Women and children from neighboring Asian countries, including Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Mongolia, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as well as from Russia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas, are reportedly trafficked to China for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. While the majority of trafficking occurs within China’s borders, there are reports that Chinese men, women, and children may be subjected to conditions of forced prostitution and forced labor in numerous other countries. Low- and medium-skilled Chinese workers migrate voluntarily to other countries for jobs in coal mines, beauty parlors, construction, and residences, but some subsequently face conditions indicative of forced labor, such as withholding of passports and other restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, physical or sexual abuse, and threats. High recruitment fees, sometimes as much as the equivalent of approximately $70,000, compound Chinese migrants’ vulnerability to debt bondage.

Trafficking is pronounced among China’s internal migrant population, estimated to exceed 236 million. Forced labor remains a problem, including in brick kilns, coal mines, and factories, some of which operate illegally and take advantage of lax labor supervision. Forced labor, including forced begging by adults and children, took place throughout China in 2012. Some evidence of child labor has been reported by media outlets, but the government has publicized only limited data on the subject. During the reporting period, some children in “work-study programs” supported by local governments were forced to work in farms and factories. In 2012, instances of schools forcing students to work in factories were reported. In November 2012, police rescued 11 mentally disabled men from a car wash in Tianjin, where the men had been beaten and not paid. Girls from the Tibet Autonomous Region are reportedly trafficked to other parts of China for domestic servitude and forced marriage.

State-sponsored forced labor is part of a systematic form of repression known as “re-education through labor.” The government reportedly profits from this forced labor, and many prisoners and detainees in at least 320 of these facilities were required to work, often with no remuneration. The prisoners were sometimes beaten for failing to complete work quotas. NGO reports state that forced labor is also a problem in government drug detention centers. Chinese authorities continue to detain and forcibly deport North Korean trafficking victims, who may face severe punishment, including death, upon their return to the DPRK for crimes that were sometimes a direct result of being trafficked.

Chinese women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking within China; they are often recruited from rural areas and transported to urban centers. China is also a destination for women and girls, largely from neighboring countries, who are sometimes subjected to forced marriage and forced prostitution upon arrival. Well-organized international criminal syndicates and local gangs play key roles in both the outbound trafficking of Chinese women and girls and the inbound trafficking of foreign women and girls into China. Media sources have reported on the prevalence of underage girls in the sex trade in cities throughout China. In July 2012, eight girls under the age of 14 were kidnapped and forced into prostitution. Local government officials and businessmen were among the five people arrested for the girls’ commercial sexual exploitation.

The Chinese government’s birth limitation policy and a cultural preference for sons, create a skewed sex ratio of 118 boys to 100 girls in China, which served as a key source of demand for the trafficking of foreign women as brides for Chinese men and for forced prostitution. Women from Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Mongolia are transported to China after being recruited through marriages brokers or fraudulent employment offers, where they are subsequently subjected to forced prostitution or forced labor. Chinese men and women are subjected to forced labor in many countries around the world. There have been reports of forced labor in service sectors, such as restaurants and shops, in overseas Chinese communities. A study in the Netherlands revealed that Chinese men were found at marijuana cultivation sites, while women were forced to work in beauty salons and offer sexual services. In addition, there have been reports of Chinese men abused in coal and copper mines in Africa.

China remains a significant source of girls and women subjected to forced prostitution throughout the world. During the year, Chinese sex trafficking victims were reported on all of the inhabited continents. Traffickers recruited girls and young women, often from rural areas of China, using a combination of fraudulent job offers, imposition of large travel fees, and threats of physical or financial harm, to obtain and maintain their service in prostitution. Locations of sex trafficking of Chinese women and girls abroad vary widely, and sometimes are collocated with concentrations of Chinese migrant workers in factories, and mining and logging camps.

The Government of the People’s Republic of China does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and has been placed on Tier 2 Watch List for the last nine consecutive years. In the 2011 and 2012 TIP Reports, China was granted consecutive waivers from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 on the basis of a written plan to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) authorizes a maximum of two consecutive waivers; a waiver is no longer available to China, which is therefore deemed not to be making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards and is placed on Tier 3.

During the reporting period, the Chinese government released a new national plan of action that sets forth ways in which the government will increase its efforts in victim protection and cooperation with international organizations. The government also demonstrated increased cooperation with foreign governments in extraditing alleged traffickers and repatriating victims. Through the government’s use of social media, national public awareness of human trafficking has increased over previous years. However, despite these modest signs of interest in anti-trafficking reforms, the Chinese government did not demonstrate significant efforts to comprehensively prohibit and punish all forms of trafficking and to prosecute traffickers. The government continued to perpetuate human trafficking in at least 320 state-run institutions--through its "re-education through labor" camps--while helping victims of human trafficking in only seven. The government also did not report providing comprehensive victim protection services to domestic or foreign, male or female victims of trafficking. In addition, as the government provides little information about arrests or prosecutions, it is difficult to determine if the government takes adequate steps to punish government officials complicit in trafficking.

Recommendations for China: Continue to update the legal framework to further refine the definitions of trafficking-related crimes per the 2000 UN TIP Protocol, separating out crimes such as abduction, illegal adoption, and smuggling; provide more disaggregated data on efforts to criminally investigate and prosecute sex trafficking of adults and children; provide data on the number of criminal investigations and prosecutions of cases identified as involving forced labor, including of recruiters and employers who facilitate forced labor and debt bondage, both within China and abroad; investigate, prosecute, and impose prison sentences on government officials who facilitate or are complicit in trafficking; expand efforts to institute proactive, formal procedures to systematically identify victims of trafficking, including labor trafficking victims and Chinese victims trafficked abroad, and among vulnerable groups such as migrant workers and foreign and local women and children arrested for prostitution, to ensure that they are not punished for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; cease detention, punishment, and forcible repatriation of North Korean trafficking victims; continue to expand victim protection services, including comprehensive counseling, medical, reintegration, and other rehabilitative assistance for male and female victims of sex and labor trafficking; end the “re-education through labor” system; continue to increase the transparency of government efforts to combat trafficking; and, provide legal alternatives to foreign victims’ removal to countries where they would face hardship or retribution.

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