China TIER Ranking: TIER 3 (TIP 2023)

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The Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and, even considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity, is not making significant efforts to do so; therefore the PRC remained on Tier 3.  Despite the lack of significant efforts, the government took some steps to address trafficking, including by adopting a new Women’s Rights and Interests Protection Law, which highlighted existing protections against trafficking crimes involving women and enumerated the responsibilities of government officials to respond to such crimes; cooperating with foreign law enforcement to extradite PRC nationals suspected of human trafficking abroad; and awarding restitution to a trafficking victim.  However, during the reporting period there was a government policy or pattern of widespread forced labor, including through the continued mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, ethnic Kyrgyz, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang) under the guise of “vocational training” and “deradicalization.”  Authorities continued to implement the policy or pattern of widespread forced labor in other provinces and targeted other religious minorities under their auspices; the government also sought to coerce the repatriation and internment of religious and ethnic minority groups living abroad through the use of transnational repression, including surveillance, harassment, threats against them and their family members, and extradition requests, increasing their vulnerability to the government’s policy or pattern of widespread forced labor.  The government also reportedly continued to place ethnic Tibetans in vocational training and manufacturing jobs as part of an ostensible “poverty alleviation” and “labor dispatch program” that featured overt coercive elements.  PRC nationals reportedly suffered forced labor in several countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe working on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects or other PRC-affiliated infrastructure projects, within which PRC authorities exercised insufficient oversight of relevant recruitment channels, contracts, and labor conditions, and PRC diplomatic services routinely failed to identify or assist those exploited.  For the sixth consecutive year, the government did not report complete law enforcement data, nor did it report identifying any trafficking victims or referring them to protection services.

The Chinese government should :

  • Abolish the arbitrary detention and forced labor of persons in internment camps and affiliated manufacturing sites in Xinjiang and other provinces and immediately release and pay restitution to the individuals detained therein. 
  • End forced labor in government facilities, in nongovernmental facilities converted to government detention centers, and by government officials outside of the penal process. 
  • Cease all coercive labor transfer and compulsory vocational training programs, as well as discriminatory hiring and targeted urban resettlement displacement policies, that place Uyghurs, Tibetans, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups at risk of trafficking. 
  • Cease the use of transnational repression, including harassment, threats, and illegal discriminatory immigration policies as measures to coerce the return to Xinjiang and subsequent forced labor and persecution of members of PRC ethnic and religious minority groups living abroad. 
  • In conjunction with receiving countries, increase oversight of recruitment, contracts, and working conditions associated with BRI project worksites; enforce bans on the imposition of worker-paid recruitment fees and security deposits; and train PRC consular services to identify and assist PRC national victims of forced labor abroad, including in BRI projects. 
  • Increase law enforcement efforts consistent with international law against online scam operations, including allegations of forced labor, and PRC-national affiliated entities complicit in such operations and associated trafficking crimes. 
  • Amend legislation to criminalize all forms of sex trafficking and labor trafficking as defined under international law and, respecting due process, vigorously investigate, prosecute, and seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, including complicit government officials, which should involve significant prison terms. 
  • Institute and systematize proactive, formal procedures to screen, identify, and refer to protection services trafficking victims throughout the country – including male victims, labor trafficking victims, PRC victims returning from abroad, and victims among vulnerable groups, such as migrant workers, PRC and foreign fishermen, foreign women, North Korean workers, and PRC women and children arrested on “prostitution” charges – and train front-line officers on their implementation. 
  • Increase transparency and oversight of seafarer labor conditions in the PRC fishing industry, including by banning illegal and unregistered recruitment agencies; mandating international vessel registration; collecting and publishing information on vessel licensure, registered operating areas, and crew manifests; conducting random onboard inspections; and working with port country authorities to investigate and criminally prosecute distant water fleet (DWF) forced labor crimes. 
  • Ensure trafficking victims are not inappropriately penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. 
  • Expand victim protection services, including comprehensive counseling and 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 mistreatment or retribution – particularly the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), consistent with obligations under UNSCR 2397. 
  • Increase the transparency of government efforts to combat trafficking and provide disaggregated data on investigations and prosecutions, victim identification, and service provision, including by continuing to share relevant data with international partners; and apply the 2000 UN TIP Protocol to Hong Kong.

from 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – U.S. Department of State

2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – United States Department of State

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