The US plans to place China on its global list of worst offenders in human trafficking and forced labor, a US congressional source and a person familiar with the matter said, a step that could aggravate tension with Beijing that has eased under US President Donald Trump.
The reprimand of China, Washington’s main rival in the Asia-Pacific region, would come despite Trump’s budding relationship with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping (習近平), and the US president’s efforts to coax Beijing into helping to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has decided to drop China to “Tier 3,” the lowest grade, putting it alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria among others, said the sources, who have knowledge of the internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The rating was expected to be announced yesterday in an annual report published by the US Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
A State Department official declined to comment on the report’s contents and said the department “does not discuss details of internal deliberations.”
A Tier 3 rating can trigger sanctions limiting access to US and international aid, but US presidents frequently waive such action.
While it was unclear what led Tillerson to downgrade China, last year’s report criticized the Chinese government for not doing enough to curb “state-sponsored forced labor” and concluded it did not meet “minimum standards” for fighting trafficking — though it still said Beijing was making significant efforts.
The Trump administration has also grown concerned about conditions in China for North Korean labor crews that are contracted through Pyongyang and provide hard currency for the North Korean leadership, which is squeezed for cash by international sanctions, the congressional source said.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) said the government was resolute in its resolve to fight human trafficking and the results were plain to see.
“China resolutely opposes the US side making thoughtless remarks in accordance with its own domestic law about other countries’ work in fighting human trafficking,” Lu told a daily news briefing.
Since taking office, Trump has praised Xi for agreeing to work on the North Korea issue during a Florida summit in April and has held back on attacking Chinese trade practices he railed against during the presidential campaign.
However, Trump has suggested he is running out of patience with China’s modest steps to pressure North Korea, which is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US.
The annual report, covering more than 180 countries and territories, calls itself the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human-trafficking efforts.
It organizes countries into tiers based on trafficking and forced labor records: Tier 1 for nations that meet minimum US standards; Tier 2 for those making significant efforts to meet those standards; Tier 2 “Watch List” for those that deserve special scrutiny; and Tier 3 for countries that fail to comply with the minimum US standards and are not making significant efforts.
For the past three years, China has been ranked “Tier 2 Watch List.”
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
The US House of Representatives’ China Task Force, launched by Republicans earlier this year, yesterday proposed the China task force act, a package of 137 pieces of legislation, seven of which involve Taiwan, in the hope of getting it passed before the 117th US Congress convenes on Jan. 3. The act encompasses a wide range of issues, including combatting Beijing’s influence around the globe, establishing the US’ dominance in determining 5G network standards and means for bringing UN members to task for abusing their influence within the UN system. The seven acts involving Taiwan address concerns such as the Taiwan Assurance Act
Chinese health authorities investigating a COVID-19 outbreak have said that they discovered live coronavirus on frozen food packaging, a finding that suggests the virus can survive in cold supply chains. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday said that it had found traces of live COVID-19 on the outer packaging of frozen cod in the eastern city of Qingdao, marking the first time that live coronavirus has been detected on the outside of refrigerated goods. Researchers were investigating the source of a cluster of cases linked to a hospital in Qingdao. Genetic traces had previously been found in samples of
A Chinese soldier apprehended earlier this week by the Indian Army after he strayed across a tense de facto border was on Tuesday night handed back to China, an Indian government source in New Delhi said yesterday. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier had on Monday been captured in the Demchok area of eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army said in a statement. The Chinese military also released a statement, saying that Corporal Wang Yalong was handed over early yesterday. New Delhi on Monday said that it had detained Wang after he crossed into Indian-controlled territory, while China announced that Wang had gotten