China hits back at US on human trafficking downgrade

Jerome Frank
June 28, 2017

The State Department plans to release its annual Trafficking in Persons Report to Congress on Tuesday.

The Department of Commerce is expected to take action against detrimental foreign steel imports later this week, which is likely to upset China other.

Among the other reasons China was dropped to the lowest tier was forced labor among drug addicts and ethnic minorities, as well as reports that the country continued to forcibly repatriate North Koreans despite threats that Pyongyang would punish such returnees with prison and forced labor.

Tillerson singled out North Korea as one of the most egregious offenders, noting the country has forced 50,000 to 80,000 people to work overseas, mainly in China and Russian Federation, while their pay goes directly to the government.

Countries placed in Tier 3 can be penalized with sanctions barring them from participating in cultural exchanges with the United States.

China was listed as a Tier 3 offender for human trafficking and forced labor - the lowest ranking - one year after being on a Tier 2 "watch list" deserving special scrutiny.

While the report comes from the Department of State rather than the White House, it is nevertheless the most significant rebuke against the Chinese government by the U.S. since President Donald Trump took office in January.

Bangladesh managed to hold on in the Tier-2 for the last five consecutive years, but this year it was downgraded to Tier-2 Watch List.

The report said Chinese women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking within China.

"We much regret that the [report] has once again failed to give a fair and objective assessment on Hong Kong's regime for combating trafficking in persons", a Hong Kong government spokesperson said.

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"China's government commitment to fighting human trafficking has been resolute and our results have been obvious for everyone to see", he said.

Other Asian countries are spread across the board with South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan at the top tier, in line with established standards.

Limited funding and poor training for personnel impede the investigation of many types of crimes, including human trafficking.

The 2017 report released today June 27, however acknowledges the efforts by the government to act on human trafficking and has been granted a Tier 3 Waiver.

The public rebuke to China could complicate efforts by the United States to persuade Beijing to help curb North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Being rated a Tier 3 country by the report can have serious repercussions. Tillerson noted that there are 50,000 to 80,000 North Korean workers worldwide, and many are in China and Russian Federation.

The move "flies in the face of evidence that both governments are still complicit in child soldier use", said Jo Becker, HRW's advocacy director for children's rights.

Overall, Latin America continues to be a region filled with "source, transit and destination" countries for human trafficking, sex trafficking and forced labor, the report states.

Afghanistan, Malaysia and Qatar were each upgraded to Tier 2, a list of nations making significant efforts to comply, from the Tier 2 Watch List. "It goes to the government of Korea, which confiscates most of that, obviously", Tillerson said. She was instrumental in arranging a White House meeting with anti-trafficking activists that Trump attended in the first few weeks of the administration.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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