Beijing rejects criticism in US human trafficking report
China yesterday rejected a US report that criticised Beijing for failing to make greater efforts to combat human trafficking.
"We believe that the US side should take an objective and impartial view of China's efforts (in fighting human trafficking) and stop making unilateral or arbitrary judgments of China," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing.
The US has accused China and Russia of failing to meet minimum standards in fighting human trafficking, ranking them on a par with North Korea and Syria.
The State Department downgraded China and Russia in rankings on how 188 governments around the world have performed in fighting the flesh trade and other forms of exploitative labor.
Rights activist groups are welcoming the move, but it could further strain Washington's touchy relations with both China and Russia.
The US also downgraded Uzbekistan over its state-sanctioned use of forced labour in the annual cotton harvest.
The rankings are in the department's annual report released on Wednesday.
President Barack Obama now has 90 days to determine whether to apply sanctions against China, Russia, Uzbekistan and 18 other governments given a "tier three" ranking - the lowest the department gives.
The president can block various types of aid, such as arms financing, grants for cultural and educational exchange programs and could withdraw US support for loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
That appears unlikely in the cases of China, Russia and Uzbekistan, which have strategic importance for Washington.
The report criticised China's government for perpetuating trafficking through its use of forced labour in more than 300 state-run prison camps, and its forcible deportation of North Korean trafficking victims, who may face the death penalty on their return home.
Girls from Tibet are reportedly trafficked to other parts of China for domestic servitude and forced marriage, the State Department report said.
Associated Press, Agence France-Presse