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
Ms. Yi Wang
National Project Coordinator
Direct line: +86 10 6420 1671
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:
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.
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.