State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report open the window of AOD

Write : 2017-07-02

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The United States has placed China on its global list of worst offenders in human trafficking and forced labor.

The U.S. downgraded China to Tier 3, the lowest grade in the State Department’s "Trafficking in Persons Report 2017" together with 22 other nations, including North Korea, Russia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Guinea and Venezuela.

China has been classified in the Tier 2 Watch List for the three years since 2014.

The annual report organizes countries into tiers based on trafficking and forced labor records. Countries that fail to comply with minimum U.S. standards and are not making significant efforts are classified in Tier 3.

South Korea was listed as a Tier 1 country for the 15th consecutive year, along with 35 other countries including the U.S., Canada, Britain, France and Australia.

The lowest Tier 3 rating can trigger suspension of aid and support funds from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and limit access to U.S. cultural and educational exchange programs.

The U.S. has also kept North Korea in the lowest Tier 3 category for the 15th straight year. It said that Pyongyang sponsored "human trafficking through its use of forced labor in prison camps and labor training centers, facilitation of forced labor of students, and its provision of forced labor to foreign companies through bilateral contracts."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that an estimated 52- to 80-thousand North Korean citizens are working overseas as forced laborers primarily in Russia and China and that many of them work 20 hours a day. He said their pay does not come to them directly and goes to the government which confiscates most of their pay.

The biggest surprise in this year’s report is China's downgrade which is expected to draw strong protest from Beijing.

The U.S. cited two major concerns, repatriation of North Koreans and forced labor of the Uighur ethnic minority in northwestern China.

Tillerson said that China's downgrade was “in part 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.”

Some experts view the downgrade as Washington’s strategy to put pressure on Beijing on the North Korean nuclear issue, noting that President Trump has expressed dissatisfaction with China’s efforts in resolving the matter.

Others say this will only make it more difficult to illicit China's cooperation on the North Korea issue.

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