The United States says China is among the worst offenders of human trafficking and forced labor in the world.
The finding is part of the State Department’s latest ‘Trafficking in Persons,’ or TIP, report. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released the report on Tuesday.
The TIP measures governments’ efforts in “prosecuting traffickers, protecting victims, and preventing the crime.” It rates countries and puts them in one of three groups.
The 2017 TIP report lists China as a Tier 3 country.
Tier 3 is the group of countries judged to do the least to fight human trafficking. Human trafficking has been described as organized criminal activity in which people are treated as possessions.
The report said China has not met minimum standards for the removal of trafficking and is not making great efforts to do so.
Secretary of State Tillerson spoke about the decision. He said China was rated a Tier 3 country because “it has not taken serious steps to end its own complicity in trafficking...including forced laborers from North Korea that are located in China."
China was listed as Tier 2 for the past three years. It was last in Tier 3 in 2013.
Chinese Foreign Ministry official Lu Kang said Tuesday that China strongly opposes the United States using its own laws to attack another country’s record. Lu also said that China’s anti-human trafficking efforts are “obvious for everyone to see.”
The report is the first major critique of China’s human rights record since Donald Trump was sworn-in as president. His administration has generally played down rights issues in its foreign policy.
Tier 3 countries may be barred from taking part in U.S. cultural exchange programs. Other Tier 3 countries include Iran, North Korea, Syria and Zimbabwe.
Several countries were removed this year from the Tier 3 list. They include Afghanistan, Malaysia, Myanmar and Qatar. All are now listed as Tier 2 countries.
Countries listed as Tier 1 are said to meet the minimum standards of fighting human trafficking.
The 2017 TIP report said that worldwide, there were fewer than 10,000 human trafficking convictions in the past year. Yet it noted “estimates of the numbers of victims of human trafficking remain in the tens of millions.”
This article was based on reporting from the Associated Press, Reuters and VOA, and adapted by Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
prosecute - v. to hold a trial against a person who is accused of a crime to see if that person is guilty
minimum - n. the lowest number or amount that is possible or allowed — usually singular
standard - n. a level of quality, achievement, etc., that is considered acceptable or desirable
complicity - n. the act of helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way
obvious - adj. easy to see or notice
conviction - n. the act of proving that a person is guilty of a crime in a court of law