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Human trafficking is defined as the process of illegally
transporting people from one place to another, usually for the purposes of
sexual exploitation, work labour or other forms of exploitation.1
‘Human trafficking’ has become somewhat an umbrella term as different forms of
human trafficking have emerged with different causes and purposes. Human
trafficking has become a worldwide issue, due to an alarming increase of human
trafficking activity the U.S. passed a Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)
in 2000 which led to the creation of Trafficking in Persons Report. The
Trafficking in Persons report is an annual report published by the U.S. State
Department Office that assesses foreign governments upon the basis of their
perceived efforts to acknowledge human trafficking in their country and their
efforts to prevent it.2
The report ranks nations into tiers depending their fulfilment of guidelines
set out by the TVPA; Tier 1 comprises of countries whose governments fully
comply to the TVPA minimum standards, Tier 2 includes countries whose
governments comply with some of the minimum standards but are showing
significant effort to bring themselves into full compliance, Tier 2 Watchlist
are those countries whose government do not fully comply with the minimum standards
of the TVPA and are making significant efforts however they fail to prove with
evidence that are they indeed working on these efforts, Tier 3 is filled with
countries whose governments fail to meet the minimum standards of the TVPA and
seemingly are not making any effort to improve on their failure.3

China has consistently been below Tier 2 according to the Trafficking in
Persons report, with it moving down from Tier 2 Watchlist in 2016 to Tier 3 in
2017.4
This makes China one of the 23 countries ranked in Tier 3 in 2017, suggesting
that there is a lot of action still required within China to get human
trafficking under control.

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Within China, child trafficking
and bride/sex trafficking have become some of the most prevalent forms of human
trafficking on record. In 2014, a nationwide crackdown on child trafficking saw
1,094 people arrested in connection with four online major baby-trafficking
rings5,
it was found that the children involved were being sold under the guise of
adoption. Between 1980 and 2000, it was recorded by the International Bureau of
Children’s rights that nearly 10,800 children were illegally sold after being
abducted from their homes in China. 66.4% of these children were male and only
33.6% were female; for the male children over 75% of them were ages 7 and under,
while only 36% of the female children that were trafficked were under 7 years old.6
The growing preference for male children meant that desperate measures were
often turned to when parents could not naturally conceive children or if the
children they conceived were female.One of the biggest causes of human trafficking stemming from China could be argued to be the long period of time in which the ‘One Child Policy’ was in place, the preference for male children within this period meant that there were many female children that were aborted through gender-selective abortion, abandoned or adopted by foreign people. According to government estimates, before the year 2020 there will be roughly 30 million less women of marrying age than there will be men7. This huge gender imbalance has led to a dramatic increase of brides being trafficking across the borders of China for an agreed price, some are even being bought from countries across Eastern Europe. Even in modern Chinese society, males are expected to pay a dowry to the bride’s family in exchange for her hand in marriage. A study conducted in 2011 found that that the price for a bride in one rural village had “increased seventy-fold between the 1960s and 1990s.”8 However, this increase in expected dowry is not uncommon across china, in some villages across the northern parts of china, the prices of brides have reached an all-time high of $64,000. The prices of Chinese brides have become unrealistic and so trafficking brides has become a cheaper option, especially when some brokers are offering foreign brides for as little as $18,500. 9The Chinese government’s actions
in tackling the issue of human trafficking within the country has varied
dramatically over the years. In 2012 alone, the government arrested around
80,000 suspects that were involved with human trafficking. However, in 2014, only
two years later, only 194 suspects were detained for the same crime. In 2015
the number increased again to 1,932.1
The government’s stance on
stopping bride trafficking is thought to be so weak because the ever-growing
gender imbalance threatens the continuation of a sustainable population,
therefore these brides that are being brought in from surrounding countries are
a key aspect in the continuation of the population and perhaps can be
considered a way in which to start the process of closing the gender imbalance
within society. There has been no history of
respecting human rights within China, confucianism focuses on the emphasis of
the benefit for the mass population rather than the rights of the individual2
and this could perhaps be a reason for why human traffickers do not receive a
harsh punishment as the rights of the individuals being trafficked is not always
considered.

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