Washington/Beijing: The USA branded China yet again among the worst performing countries and regions in its Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report. It also framed China for “forced labour” in Xinjiang province. A recent Reuters report had also suggested that China was asking the UN Human Rights chief to bury or halt her report on Xinjiang.
China retorted by stating that no matter how hard the US tries, it cannot justify or change the reality that it is a source, transit, and destination country for victims of forced labour. ” The truth is, the US is the No.1 country on human trafficking,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing today. He further said that during her visit in China, the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet saw first-hand “China’s human rights path and progress and experienced in person what a real Xinjiang is like: a region that enjoys security and stability and sustained robust development, and its people live a happy and fulfilling life”. Bachelet, on her part, had clarified in Guangzhou on May 28, 2022, that her visit was not an investigation. “Official visits by a High Commissioner are by their nature high-profile and simply not conducive to the kind of detailed, methodical, discreet work of an investigative nature,” she stated.
The US report ranked China as a ‘Tier 3’ country, which meant that the Chinese government was not making significant efforts to meet the minimum standards.
“China remains on Tier 3 not only because it has – is not making those efforts, but also because the Government of China does indeed have a policy or pattern. So it is on the list of countries that – in which the government is involved in perpetuating trafficking, largely because of the issues that we just discussed within Xinjiang and the government policy of perpetuating forced labor in Xinjiang and beyond,” Dr. Kari Johnstone, acting director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, told reporters in Washington on July 19, 2022 (local time).
China on its part, told the US to “eliminate human trafficking, forced labor and other human rights violations that widely exist in the US if it does care about human rights, and make sure that the US itself is bound by the “highest standards” instead of smearing and denigrating other countries”.
The US report also included a special segment on the forced labour that it claimed occurred under the auspices of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, “a loose brand encompassing a broad assortment of infrastructure and development projects”.
According to Dr Johnstone, in at least a dozen participating countries, China and host nationals alike are subjected to forced labour, a trend COVID-19 travel restrictions have exacerbated. Separately, the TIP Report’s continued focus on forced labour in Xinjiang and Tibet is part of the US administration’s whole-of-government approach to address forced labour in China and globally.
Dr Johnstone noted that the US Government had taken “concrete measures” to promote accountability in Xinjiang, including visa restrictions, Global Magnitsky and other financial sanctions, export controls, withhold release orders and import restrictions, the release of a business advisory on Xinjiang, and the adoption of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, or the UFLPA, in December 2021.
“The United States encourages allies and partners to take joint action to prevent and address forced labour and global supply chains, including those connected to the atrocities in Xinjiang,” she said.
China, meanwhile, accused the US of generating “disinformation-based reports on human trafficking to mislead the world”, year after year. Citing the US Department of State figures, Wenbin said up to 100,000 people are trafficked into the US for forced labour annually. “Over the past five years, forced labour and human trafficking were reported in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, the number of cases reported increased significantly from about 3,200 to about 11,500,” he said.
He further claimed that of all the 100,000 people trafficked into the US for forced labour each year, half of them are minors. “A few weeks ago, at least 50 bodies were found in the migrant death truck in Texas. Yet the US still places itself onto Tier 1, the highest ranking in its report. The US is clearly embarrassing itself,” he said.
The Chinese government claimed it follows the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime to its letter. “We launched the National Plan of Action on Combating Trafficking in Women and Children (2008-2012) in 2007, the Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking (2013-2020) in 2013 and the Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking (2021-2030) in 2021,” Wenbin said and highlighted the Chinese government’s move to establish a joint meeting mechanism of 35 departments and agencies on combating human trafficking at the State Council. China, he claimed, improved the working mechanism led by the government. and widely participated by various social sectors, and provided a sound mechanism for preventing and fighting human trafficking and helping and protecting victims. Efforts made throughout the years in this area have produced notable progress, he said.
– global bihari bureau