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China among worst countries in US human trafficking report

Government-led prosecutions of ethnic minorities indicate downward spiral in China

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Muslim trainees work in cloth factory in Xinjiang (CCTV via AP video)

Muslim trainees work in cloth factory in Xinjiang (CCTV via AP video)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S Department of State released its 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report on Thursday (July 1), revealing a worrying overview of global human trafficking.

Countries are placed into three tiers in the TIP report. Russia and Malaysia are among those categorized in Tier 3, with state-sponsored trafficking or failure to hold traffickers accountable.

China's actions in Xinjiang and Tibet and forced labor in countries hosting Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI) put it in Tier 3 for the fifth consecutive year.

The TIP Report stated the country has used surveillance technologies and trumped-up criminal charges to abduct and detain more than 1 million Muslims, including Uyghurs, ethnic Hui, ethnic Kazakhs, and more, in up to 1,200 state-run internment camps.

In addition, more than 500,000 rural Tibetans were reportedly placed in military-style vocational training. These Tibetans often have little ability to refuse participation and are subject to forced labor in factories.

Beyond its border, numerous Chinese workers are employed in large-scale BRI projects in mining, transportation, or manufacturing in African and Latin American countries. Here they face poor working conditions, debt bondage, and denial of access to urgent medical care.

The TIP report sheds light on other human trafficking crises, including a 2018 survey showing one-third of Indonesian workers in Hong Kong were asked to sign debt agreements as part of their employment. Also, traffickers in Malaysia use corrupt recruitment practices to lure Rohingya women and girls out of refugee camps in Bangladesh to Malaysia, where they are coerced into prostitution.

Taiwan was placed in Tier 1 in the TIP report. It said insufficient staffing and inspection still hinder efforts to eradicate forced labor on fishing vessels.