WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. State Department unveiled its2017 Trafficking in Persons Report Tuesday, which included a 3-tier rating for China — the lowest ranking that applies to countries that do not meet the minimum standards to prevent human trafficking and are taking no action to address the problem.
Although the official ceremony focused on U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking and China was not mentioned by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson or President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, the elephant in the room was China’s ranking.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the prime author of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, was thrilled with the ranking.
“The Trump Administration deserves high praise for the designation of China as Tier 3—the worst tier possible—for its shameful complicity in sex and labor trafficking,” Smith said.
“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson deserves the gratitude of victims and human rights defenders, calling out the Chinese government’s deplorable record and complicity in the cruelty of the sex and labor trafficking problem,” Smith said.
“China was given a pass 11 of the past 12 years, with both the Bush and Obama administrations ignoring clear evidence of the Chinese government’s record,” Smith said.
“The determination marks the first major public rebuke of China’s human rights record by the Trump administration, which has generally avoided direct public criticism of Beijing while seeking its cooperation in combatting North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats,” the Guardian reported on Monday.
“The report is likely to draw strong protest from China’s communist government,” the Guardian reported.
In previous reports, China has been on the “watch list” of countries suspected of meeting minimum standards.
In addition to China, there are 22 other Tier 3 nations named in this year’s report, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, North Korea, Russia, Iran, and Sudan.
“Human trafficking is one of the most tragic human rights issues of our time,” Tillerson said at the event. “It splinters families, distorts global markets, undermines the rule of law, and spurs other transnational criminal activity.”
“It threatens public safety and national security,” Tillerson said.
“But worst of all, the crime robs human beings of their freedom and their dignity,” Tillerson said. “That’s why we must pursue an end to the scourge of human trafficking.”
“Today we take another key step towards that goal,” Tillerson said. “The 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report highlights the successes achieved and the remaining challenges before us on this important global issue.”
A tradition at the annual report release is honoring activists working against and survivors of human trafficking. This year’s “TIP Heroes” were Alika Kinan, a sex trafficking survivor from Argentina, Reverend Sister Vanaja Jasphine of Cameroon, Amina Oufroukhi of Morocco, and Boom Mosby of Thailand.
“The stories of those we honor today demonstrate why combatting this crime here in the United States, as well as around the world, is in both our moral and strategic interests,” Ivanka Trump said.
“Ending human trafficking is a major foreign policy priority of the Trump administration,” she said