CHINA

China Quick Facts:

Capital: Beijing
Population: 1.35 billion (2012)
Unofficial: 1.39 billion (2014 estimate)
Estimated rural population: 48%
GDP per capita: US$ 6,091 (2012)
Human Development Index (HDI): 0.699 (2012)
HDI Rank: 101 (2012)
Neighbouring Countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Korea DPR, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Vietnam

Contact Details:

Ms. Yi Wang
National Project Coordinator
yi.wang@undp.org
Direct line: +86 10 6420 1671

UN-ACT China
3-2-121 Tayuan Diplomatic Compound, No.1 Xindong Road,
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600, P.R. China
Tel: + 86 10 6420 1827
Fax: + 86 10 6420 3115

UN-ACT China Website:
UN-ACT China manages an additional website, with plenty of resources and information on human trafficking related to the country. You can visit the site by clicking on the button below:

National Trafficking Trends
  • Country of origin, destination and transit for trafficked persons
  • The majority of cases identified in China are internal trafficking cases
  • Recent years have seen increased violence in cross-border trafficking crimes
  • Destination country for foreign brides and victims of forced marriage
  • Authorities continue to detain and deport North Korean trafficking victims who face severe punishment and/or death upon their repatriation
  • The average age of trafficked victims has decreased due to increased trafficking of infants
  • The high prevalence of trafficking victims being kidnapped is unique in the region
The Trafficking Situation

The trafficking situation in China has evolved in recent years, with men, women and children trafficked both domestically and across borders for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Two particular forms of trafficking specific to the Chinese context are the trafficking of children for illegal adoption, and the trafficking of women and girls for forced marriage. As a criminal enterprise, trafficking has become an increasingly complex phenomenon in China, as traditional exploitative trends for forced marriage or adoption have in recent years been coupled with an increasing number of victims forced into street performance, begging and theft. Organ trafficking has also emerged as a lucrative business for traffickers.

While China’s internal migrant population, estimated to exceed 252 million people, exhibits vulnerabilities to exploitation, the lack of available data makes it difficult to determine the prevalence and evolving patterns of human trafficking within the country. The government’s birth limitation policy and a historic cultural preference for sons have also resulted in an uneven sex ratio, contributing substantially to the demand for foreign brides.

In addition to the continued trafficking patterns, in recent years Chinese victim profiles have also become more diverse. The proportion of child trafficking cases has been growing since 2001 and a considerable number of young female migrant workers and students have been targeted by perpetrators. Recent trends have shown that there has been an increase in the trafficking of disabled persons (notably those with mental illness, or those who are deaf and mute) and students. Anecdotal evidence further suggests that cross-border and transitory trafficking of women is increasing with cases of individuals from southwest China trafficked through Myanmar into countries such as Thailand and Malaysia.

Criminal organizations operating in the region are also becoming more organized, professional and diverse. The Ministry of Public Security has recently observed that, with enhanced public awareness of human trafficking, it has become increasingly difficult for traffickers to succeed through traditional modes such as deception and fraud. Consequently, they are now using more violent and coercive measures such as threats, direct force and kidnapping. Victims have reportedly been exploited in various work environments such as brick kilns, coal mines and factories, whereas foreign women are routinely recruited to China through marriage brokers and fraudulent employment offers, often facilitated by organized criminal groups.

Furthermore, reports of more varied and unsystematic exploitation have emerged in recent years. Children have been reportedly forced by certain schools to work in factories, and government officials and businessmen have been arrested for participating in the forcible commercial sexual exploitation of minors. Trafficking victims from China have also been detected in overseas Chinese expatriate communities, an indicator of how international the criminal industry has become.

Anti-trafficking mechanisms at a glance
  • National Plan of Action I implemented (2008-2012)
  • National Plan of Action II currently being implemented (2013-2020)
  • Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT) Task Force (2005), with UN-ACT as secretariat
  • Hotspot policing conducted in high risk areas and joint border operations conducted with law enforcement counterparts in Viet Nam and Myanmar
  • Several projects have been initiated by the All China Women’s Federation (ACWF) to prevent trafficking among migrant populations in various source and destination provinces
  • Operational Guide for Anti-Trafficking Police has been established and is currently used by police officers
  • A team of interpreters for Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) languages has been established to support cross-border case investigations
  • A team of interpreters for Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) languages has been established to support cross-border case investigations
  • Various joint policies on prosecution, prevention and victim protection issued by:
    – Ministry of Public Security
    – All China Women’s Federation
    – Ministry of Civil Affairs
    – Supreme People’s Court
  • Inter-Ministerial Joint Meeting Mechanism (IMJMM) holds annual and thematic meetings as well as information sharing on a monthly basis
  • Shelters provide interim care to trafficking victims with managers and staff in most provinces having received training (Ministry of Civil Affairs)
  • Operational guide to assist victims of trafficking has been developed and distributed to all shelters
  • Anti-trafficking campaigns have been disseminated through television, print media and online platforms
  • Numerous documentaries and animations have been produced and broadcast to raise awareness among the general public
TIP challenges ahead

While human trafficking remains prevalent in China, its characteristics are continuously evolving. The clandestine nature of these crimes and the fact that only a small minority of cases are reported to the police as incidences of trafficking make it difficult to understand the true scale of China’s trafficking problem. With the changing demographics and employment market, vulnerabilities to forced labour may increase in the country. Anti-trafficking responses are limited by: the current limited legal definition of human trafficking; the lack of primary research and data collection; the nascent victim protection services available; and the limited understanding of the broader trafficking patterns. Numerous government ministries as well as international and domestic agencies and organisations work to combat trafficking patterns in China. However these would benefit from greater collaboration and coordination.

For national, bi- and multilateral laws and agreements on human trafficking involving China, please see the resource section.