Chinese Articles Discuss Achievements, Challenges in Fighting Human Trafficking

March 14, 2005

Public security agencies rescued 5,461 abducted women and 3,488 abducted children nationwide in 2004, according to a Xinhua article. While highlighting this work, the Xinhua piece and a related article published in the Procuratorial Daily also paint a disturbing picture of trends in human trafficking in China.

According to public security officials, the nature of abduction crimes and traffickers’ tactics have changed in recent years. A domestic market for wives and illegal adoptions was once the reason for most human trafficking in China, but now traffickers abduct women and children for use as forced laborers, street performers, prostitutes, beggars, thieves, etc. Abductions of children are on the rise, and the wives and sons of migrant workers have become common targets of abduction. Gangs and criminal syndicates are becoming more involved in human trafficking, and violent tactics are being used more often. Public security officials also say that the problem is gradually becoming a cross-border issue. Assistant Public Security Minister Zhang Xinfeng argues that to deal with these trends, China’s law enforcement agencies must emphasize prevention and address the social causes of trafficking, draw on the resources of the entire society, and increase international cooperation.

According to a UNIFCEF report published in 2002, there are an estimated 250,000 victims of human trafficking in China. A State Department report on human trafficking published in 2004 cites official Chinese statistics indicating that between 2001 and 2003, Chinese law enforcement agencies investigated more than 20,000 trafficking cases involving over 43,000 women and children. As a recent New York Times article suggests, many poor Chinese families also send their daughters to work in the sex trade. It is unclear whether the cited statistics include such individuals. The State Department report concludes that although China is “making significant efforts” to address the trafficking problem, it “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” In particular, China has not signed the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. The emphasis placed on enhancing international cooperation in the Chinese articles cited above may be evidence that the Chinese government is re-evaluating this issue.