A food safety factory shutdown has Americans hunting for baby formula. Readying themselves for a covid-19 lockdown, Chinese in Beijing emptied store shelves. Emerging from lockdown, some in Shanghai are visiting well-provisioned markets. U.S.-China agricultural trade is booming, but many are still being left hungry. Food security, sustainability and safety remain issues.
U.S. Department of State, "2015 Trafficking in Persons Report," July 27, 2015
Tier 2 Watch List
The People’s Republic of China (China or PRC) is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Instances of trafficking are reported among China’s internal migrant population, estimated to exceed 236 million people, with Chinese men, women, and children subjected to forced labor in brick kilns, coal mines, and factories, some of which operate illegally and take advantage of lax government supervision. Forced begging by adults and children was reported throughout China. There are reports traffickers are increasingly targeting deaf and mute individuals for forced labor. Limited media reports indicate children in some work-study programs supported by local governments and schools are forced to work in factories.
State-sponsored forced labor continues to be an area of significant concern in China. “Re-education through labor” (RTL) was a systematic form of forced labor that had existed in China for decades. The PRC government reportedly profited from this forced labor, which required many detainees to work, often with no remuneration, for up to four years. By some estimates, there had been at least 320 facilities where detained individuals worked in factories or mines, built roads, and made bricks. In 2013, the PRC’s National People’s Congress ratified a decision to abolish RTL. The government closed several RTL facilities by the beginning of April 2014; however, the government converted other RTL facilities into state-sponsored drug detention or “custody and education” centers, and continues to force prisoners to perform manual labor. Some women arrested for prostitution are detained for up to two years without due process in “custody and education” centers and subjected to forced labor—such as making tires, disposable chopsticks, toothpicks, or dog diapers—in at least 116 “custody and education” centers throughout China.
Chinese women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking within China; they are typically recruited from rural areas and taken to urban centers. Well-organized criminal syndicates and local gangs play key roles in the trafficking of Chinese women and girls in China. Victims are recruited with fraudulent employment opportunities and subsequently forced into prostitution. Girls from the Tibet Autonomous Region are reportedly sent to other parts of China and subjected to forced marriage and domestic servitude.
Chinese men, women, and children are also subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking in other countries. Traffickers recruit girls and young women, often from rural areas of China, using a combination of fraudulent job offers and coercion; traffickers impose large travel fees, confiscate passports, confine, or physically and financially threaten victims to compel their engagement in prostitution. Chinese men and women are forced to labor in service sectors, such as restaurants, shops, agriculture, and factories in overseas Chinese communities. Chinese men experience abuse at construction sites, in coal and copper mines, and other extractive industries in Africa, and face conditions indicative of forced labor such as withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, nonpayment of wages, and physical abuse. Chinese children are vulnerable to forced labor in quarries, farms, and construction sites in Angola. Chinese women and girls are subjected to forced prostitution throughout the world, including in major cities, construction sites, remote mining and logging camps, and areas with high concentrations of Chinese migrant workers. African men are exploited on Chinese vessels, working under conditions indicative of forced labor.
Women and children from neighboring Asian countries, including Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Mongolia, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as well as from Africa, and the Americas, are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking in China. Malagasy women and girls are recruited to work in domestic service in China; some of these women and girls are subjected to forced labor. Zimbabwean women report conditions indicative of labor trafficking bars. North Korean women are subjected to forced labor in the agricultural and domestic service sectors. The Chinese government’s birth limitation policy and a cultural preference for sons create a skewed sex ratio of 117 boys to 100 girls in China, which may serve to increase the demand for prostitution and for foreign women as brides for Chinese men—both of which may be procured by force or coercion. Women and girls are recruited through marriage brokers and transported to China, where some are subjected to forced prostitution or forced labor.
The Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the year, the government reported convicting at least 35 traffickers, through its publicly available data, and reported cooperating with neighboring countries to repatriate foreign trafficking victims. Despite these efforts, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts to address anti-trafficking compared to the previous year; therefore, PRC is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. The government reported ceasing the RTL system in 2013, but reports indicate the government converted some RTL facilities into different types of detention centers—including state-sponsored drug detention and “custody and education” centers—that continued to employ forced labor. The government arrested a significant number of women and children in police raids on prostitution rings and some of them may have been punished without being properly screened for trafficking indicators. Chinese authorities continued to forcibly repatriate North Korean refugees by treating them as illegal economic migrants—despite reports that many North Korean female refugees in China were trafficking victims.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHINA:
Update the legal framework to further refine the definitions of trafficking-related crimes in accordance with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol, including by separating out crimes such as abduction, illegal adoption, and smuggling and criminalizing the facilitation of prostitution involving children under the age of 18; end forced labor in state-sponsored drug detention and “custody and education” centers; 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, Chinese victims abroad, and victims among vulnerable groups, such as migrant workers and foreign and local women and children arrested for prostitution; improve procedures to prevent victims from being punished for acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; cease detention, punishment, and forcible repatriation of trafficking victims; expand victim protection services, including comprehensive counseling, medical, reintegration, and other rehabilitative assistance for male and female victims of sex and labor trafficking; provide legal alternatives to foreign victims’ removal to countries where they would face hardship or retribution; increase the transparency of government efforts to combat trafficking and provide disaggregated data on efforts to criminally investigate and prosecute sex and labor trafficking of adults and children; and provide data on the number of criminal investigations and prosecutions of cases identified as involving forced labor, including recruiters and employers who facilitate forced labor and debt bondage, both within China and abroad.
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