Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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U.S. Upgrades China in Human Trafficking

(Photo : Reuters / Landov)

China gets upgraded in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report for better efforts in battling against human trafficking in the country.

The report, released by the U.S. State Department which is tasked with bilateral and multilateral diplomacy for trafficking in persons, ranks each country according to four tiers based on their compliance to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).

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This year, China was ranked "Tier 2 Watch List", up one level from "Tier 3" in 2013.

Tier 3 is for countries that don't comply with the TVPA's minimum standards and are not making significant changes to do so, while Tier 2 Watch List is for countries who don't fully comply with the TVPA requirements but are making significant efforts to do so, according to the State Department website.

Based on the report, China is a "source, destination and transit country for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking" where victims are forced to perform manual labor in coal mines, brick kilns and factories - most of which operate illegally - and prostitution. "Reform through labor" (RTL), a long-standing system that reportedly earns profit for the government forces people to work with no compensation for up to four years. Syndicates also play a key role in trafficking as women and children promised with fraudulent work opportunities are eventually forced to begging in the streets or into prostitution.

Meanwhile, China has shown initiative and has begun to enact action against human trafficking. A number of RTL facilities were reportedly closed down by the end of the reporting period while some were converted into state-sponsored drug detention or "custody and education" centers.

In its 2013-2020 National Action Plan, certain unidentified steps were enacted specifically to combat against trafficking. Beijing has also cooperated with Burma in establishing an anti-trafficking liaison office near its borders. An information hotline for victims was also set up to provide access to medical and psychological help.

Moreover, the Ministry of Public Security has also taken to social media platforms such as Weibo, to raise awareness and receive information of suspected trafficking cases from the public.

China still has a long way to go, however. Possibly the most notable recommendation is the need to enact clearer and specific laws against trafficking. While China's criminal code provides regulations against human trafficking, it seems to be deficient in providing adequate bases "to prosecute all forms of trafficking," the report wrote.

For instance, Article 240 prohibits the abduction and trafficking of women and children defined in a number of ways such as "abduction, kidnapping, purchasing, selling, sending and receiving." However, the Article does not provide for those who are exploited primarily to forced labor or prostitution "unless they were also abducted, kidnapped, purchased, sold, received, or otherwise transferred for the purpose of being sold."

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