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The Trafficking Situation in China
China is both a source and destination country for human trafficking, and trafficking occurs mainly in the context of large-scale migration within the country, which is increasing.
China’s migrant population has reached 140 million, which is more than 10% of the total population and over 30% of the total rural labour force . For instance, the total population of Beijing is approximately 17 million, of whom the migrant population accounts for around 5.1 million. It is estimated that the total migrant population in China will increase continuously by five million every year.
Around 600,000 migrant workers leave China annually to work overseas, most of whom are men. This number accounts for those tracked by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and does not include those who leave without documents. Most (perhaps 90%) of the migrant workers are migrating through unregulated and uninformed channels.
The number of female migrants is also rising rapidly, most of whom are young girls aged 17-25.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that cross-border trafficking of women is increasing in China. Undocumented migrants who are trafficked into China mainly come from Vietnam, Russia, Korea and Myanmar. There have been cases of individuals from southwest China trafficked through Myanmar into countries like Thailand and Malaysia. The purposes of cross-border trafficking are diverse, ranging from commercial sexual exploitation and forced marriage to illegal adoption, forced labour, and begging. For example, according to one study, of the 8,000 Vietnamese women married to Chinese men in Guangxi province between 1989 and 1999, some were introduced by friends and relatives, and most were found to have been trafficked.
Trafficking in women and children remains a significant problem in several provinces. In addition, cases of forced labour and sexual exploitation are becoming more prevalent.
A study of trafficking cases reported in print media between 2006 and 2007 found 800 articles on reported cases. Giving an indication of how the problem is presented and cases that are raised, the study found correlations between age, gender, and types of trafficking, for example, trafficking of young boys for adoption, and girls and young women for sexual exploitation. The main means of trafficking were: fraud and deception, 37%; kidnapping, 26%; abuse of power or a position of vulnerability, 17%; and physical violence, 5%. Only 58% of the articles reported into which sector victims were trafficked: forced prostitution 19%; entertainment industry, hairdressing or massage parlours 9%; brick kilns 9%; manufacturing 4%; domestic labour 3%; forced begging 3%; others 11%.
Analysis of 301 trafficking cases reported by media over 2007 to mid-2008 indicated that Yunnan and Guizhou provinces are the main source provinces, while Fujian, Guangdong, and Shangdong are the main destination provinces. Henan province is both a source and destination for human trafficking. Yunnan and Guizhou provinces are amongst the provinces with the lowest GDP per capita in China, while Fujian, Guangdong and Shangdong have some of the highest GDP per capita.