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China

China National Plan of Action on Combating Trafficking in Women and Children (2008-2012)

The Situation
The People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. 

Source
While the majority of trafficking occurs within China’s borders, around 600,000 workers migrate annually overseas, many of whom are recruited by false promises of employment and later coerced into prostitution or forced labor in numerous countries and territories worldwide.1 However, this number does not include those who leave without documents and it is estimated that as many as 90% of the migrant workers are migrating through unregulated channels.2 Well-organized international criminal syndicates and local gangs play key roles in both internal and cross-border trafficking. High recruitment fees, sometimes amounting to as much as $70,000, compound Chinese migrants’ vulnerability to debt bondage and other situations of trafficking.3
 
The majority of migrant workers are low- and medium-skilled men; however, the number of female domestic and international migrants, ages 17-25, is rising. China’s Ministry of Public Security reported in January 2011 that the number of Chinese women forced into prostitution overseas is rising as many women fall prey to international criminal gangs.4  
 
Children are also at risk as the kidnapping and buying and selling children for adoption increased over the past several years, particularly in poor rural areas. While there are no reliable estimates of the number of children kidnapped, according to media reports, as many as 20,000 children are kidnapped every year for illegal adoption. Most children kidnapped internally were sold to couples unable to have children. In the past most children rescued were boys, but increased demand for children has reportedly driven traffickers to focus on girls as well.5   
 
Transit
China is a transit country for trafficked victims destined to Thailand and Malaysia for commercial sexual exploitation, forced marriage, illegal adoption, begging, and forced labor.6
 
Destination
China is a destination country for women and children who are trafficked from neighboring countries including Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Mongolia, Russia, and North Korea, and from locations as far as Romania and Zimbabwe for sexual and labor exploitation.7
 
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 and from Mongolia, North Korea, Russia, Burma, Laos, and Vietnam for forced marriage.8 The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences estimated that by 2020, there could be as many as 24 million more men than women of marriageable age (ages 19-45) in China, exacerbating  the problem.9
 
Many North Koreans voluntarily migrate to work in China but are later coerced into exploitative conditions. The Chinese government continues to consider all North Koreans "economic migrants" rather than refugees or asylum seekers, and the UNHCR continues to have limited access to North Korean refugees inside China. The lack of access to resources and options, as well as constant fear of forced repatriation by authorities, leaves North Korean refugees vulnerable to human traffickers.10 Further, Chinese authorities continue to detain and forcibly deport North Korean trafficking victims who face punishment upon their return to North Korea for unlawful acts that are sometimes a direct result of being trafficked.11   
 
Internal Trafficking
Trafficking is most pronounced among China’s internal migrant population, which is estimated to exceed 150 million people. Forced labor remains a notable problem in brick kilns, coal mines, and factories, some of which operate illegally and take advantage of lax supervision in the poorer regions of China. Forced labor has also been documented by NGOs to take place regularly in drug detention centers and in penal institutions. However, the overall extent of forced labor in China is unclear in part because the government releases only limited information on the subject.12  
 
There continue to be reports that Chinese children are forced into prostitution, and various forms of forced labor, including begging, stealing, and work in brick kilns and factories. There are also reports of forced child labor in cotton-picking in Xinjiang province at the hands of local authorities and in flower selling.13 Children kidnapped internally, are predominantly boys sold to couples unable to have children.14 
 
The children of migrants are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Although the government has implemented programs to provide mentoring and support services to reduce their risk, the UNIAP estimates that there are 20 million migrant children and more than 20 million rural children left behind at home by migrant parents who are vulnerable to trafficking due to neglect.15
 
Causes
There are many causes of human trafficking in China. The lack of employment opportunities in rural areas coupled with the growth of the manufacturing and construction industries in cities has resulted in the large-scale rural-to-urban internal migration.16  This mass movement has created opportunities for traffickers. Information from the Ministry of Public Security states that due to increasing demand, cases of people being trafficked to work in the entertainment industry has risen to 50-60% of the total reported trafficking cases, and 16-20 year-old girls are the main targets for such exploitation.17 Finally, as highlighted earlier, the shortage of marriageable women has fueled the demand for the trafficking of women for forced marriages.18 

The Chinese Government
The Chinese Government was placed in the Tier 2 Watch List for the seventh consecutive year in the 2011 U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report for not fully complying with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and for not demonstrating evidence of significant efforts to address all forms of trafficking or effectively protect victims.  However, the US Government did not place China in Tier 3, because the government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is found to be devoting sufficient resources to implement that plan.19

In 2010, China increased its attention to trafficking of women and children nationwide; continued inter-agency coordination on anti-trafficking initiatives; established nationwide and local hotlines to report trafficking cases; increased funding for labor inspections; significantly increased prosecutions for offenses the government labeled as trafficking; updated the criminal code to expand the prohibition on forced labor and increase the prescribed penalty; worked with foreign governments and INTERPOL to improve law enforcement coordination on trafficking; and trained shelter managers on victim protection. China is also working on drafting a National Plan of Action for anti-trafficking efforts, but the details are not yet public.20  

Nonetheless, despite basic efforts to investigate some cases of forced labor that generated a high degree of media attention and the plans to hire thousands of labor inspectors, the impact of these measures on addressing the full extent of trafficking for forced labor throughout the country remains unclear. China also continues to lack a formal, nationwide procedure to identify systematically victims of trafficking. The government also does not yet provide comprehensive victim protection services to both internal and foreign victims of trafficking. Victims are also at risk of being punished for unlawful acts that were a direct result of their being trafficked – for instance, violations of prostitution or immigration and emigration controls.21 

Prosecution
The Supreme People’s Court reported 1,990 cases prosecuted in 2010 resulting in the conviction of 3,138 offenders, an increase from 2009. Of those convicted, 2,216 received prison sentences of at least five years, an increase in the number of significant sentences reported in 2009. The Supreme People’s Procuratorate also reported a total of 4,422 suspects prosecuted in 2010.22 However, Chinese government authorities continue to focus heavily on trafficking of women and children for sexual purposes, and relatively less on the trafficking of men. Also, the government has not disaggregate its law enforcement statistics for forced labor and sex trafficking, so it is unclear whether China improved on its efforts to pursue criminal investigations and prosecutions of cases specifically involving trafficking for forced labor.23 

The government has undertook significant efforts to improve interagency and other internal coordination among those involved in combating trafficking throughout the country through its State Council’s Inter-Ministerial Meeting Office against Human Trafficking. In April 2010, central government authorities provided guidelines to local judicial and law enforcement officers and prosecutors on strengthening sentences for convicted traffickers and arranged training seminars on how to implement the guidelines.24 

Protection
Authorities reported rescuing 10,385 women and 5,933 children from trafficking situations in 2010; including cases of kidnapping for illegal adoption. The government also reported rescuing 109 victims of forced labor.25 

The government has established four nationwide hotlines to report suspected cases of human trafficking or access referral services for victims, including a trade union hotline for reporting labor abuses. Hotlines have also been established at a provincial level to report human trafficking. The Ministry of Public Security translated and circulated anti-trafficking training materials from the IOM to train new police recruits. While the government did not institute formal procedures to systematically identify victims of all forms of trafficking, it has begun to provide training to law enforcement officers on identifying trafficking as part of mandatory training for new recruits.26 

Shelters are available to trafficking victims and provide medical care, counseling, and vocational training. However, assistance tends to be short term and independent sources are not able to visit these shelters to ascertain the quality of care. Further, male victims of trafficking and victims of forced labor – either male or female – tend not to receive regular protection services.27 

Foreign victims are generally repatriated, sometimes involuntarily, since there is no mechanism by which to avoid deportation or repatriation of an identified trafficking victim, and are provided little access to rehabilitative, financial, or legal assistance before repatriation. In particular, Chinese authorities continue to repatriate North Korean refugees forcibly, including those found to be trafficked.28 

Prevention
The Chinese government continues to advance efforts throughout China to prevent trafficking in persons, in some instances with assistance from international organizations and NGOs. China’s highest-rated television channel has run 17 two-hour broadcasts raising awareness on human trafficking. The government also continues to disseminate worker rights information and anti-trafficking messages in train and bus stations and through media such as cell phones, television, and the internet. The government also works with the ILO to incorporate messages on avoiding human trafficking situations into school curricula.29

The central government has not addressed the birth limitation policy, which may contribute to a gender imbalance that experts believe has led to trafficking of women for forced marriages.30

International Cooperation
The Chinese government ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol in 2009. The government has also increased cooperation with foreign governments to address issues of smuggling and trafficking and to coordinate victims rescue, particularly with those countries bordering China, as well as with South Africa, the United Kingdom, France, and the DRC.31 

Recommendations 
The U.S. Department of State recommends that the Chinese government enact the following measures in its 2011 TIP Report:

  • Continue revisions to the National Action Plan to address all forms of trafficking, including forced labor and trafficking of men; 
  • Continue to update the legal framework to further refine the definitions of trafficking-related crimes;
  • Provide disaggregated data on efforts to criminally investigate and prosecute sex and child trafficking; 
  • 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; 
  • Continue to institute proactive, formal procedures to systematically identify victims of trafficking, including labor trafficking victims and Chinese trafficked abroad, and among vulnerable groups; 
  • Expand victim protection services, including comprehensive counseling, medical, reintegration, and other rehabilitative assistance, as well as assistance to male victims and victims of forced labor; 
  • Cease the practice of detaining, punishing, and forcibly repatriating North Korean trafficking victims;
  • Provide legal alternatives to foreign victims’ removal to countries in which they would face hardship or retribution; 
  • Expand protection services for Chinese trafficking victims abroad; 
  • Expand upon existing campaigns to reduce the demand for forced labor and commercial sex acts; and 
  • Publish the findings of government-sponsored research on trafficking in persons in China and involving Chinese nationals.32 

____________________

1 UNIAP: The Human Trafficking Situation in China; 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 
2 UNIAP: The Human Trafficking Situation in China
3 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 
4 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
5 2010 US Department of State Human Rights Report
6 UNIAP: The Human Trafficking Situation in China
7 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
8 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
9 2010 US Department of State Human Rights Report
10 2010 US Department of State Human Rights Report
11 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
12 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
13 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
14 2010 US Department of State Human Rights Report
15 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report; UNIAP: The Human Trafficking Situation in China
16 UNIAP: The Human Trafficking Situation in China; ILO: Labour Migration in China
17 UNIAP: The Human Trafficking Situation in China
18 UNIAP: The Human Trafficking Situation in China; 2010 US Department of State Human Rights Report
19 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
20 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
21 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
22 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
23 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
24 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
25 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
26 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
27 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
28 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
29 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
30 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
31 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
32 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
 


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