US-China Current Affairs

US to declare China among Worst Human Trafficking Offenders

The United States is set to declare China as one among the world’s worst offenders on human trafficking in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report. The report will be unveiled by the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the US Congress.

Salient Highlights

The declaration would place China in the same category as North Korea, Zimbabwe and Syria.

The move will be Donald Trump administration’s first major public rebuke of China’s human rights record. Trump’s administration has so far avoided direct public criticism of China. The report is expected to receive condemnation from China’s Communist government. The US is seeking China’s cooperation in combatting North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.

China will be placed in “Tier 3,” which will be the ranking system’s lowest category. Countries listed in this tier are those who have failed to meet minimum standards to prevent human trafficking. Countries like Sudan, Iran and Haiti have recently been on that list.

As per the report, forced begging in China which particularly affects children is a matter of great concern. In the previous year’s report, the US had placed China on its “watch list.” Countries which are placed in the watch list are those who are not meeting minimum standards. The 2016 report had called China as a “source, destination and transit country” for forced labour and sex trafficking. In this year’s report, China has been downgraded to the lowest classification as it had not increased its anti-trafficking efforts from the previous year.

Implications

Countries placed on Tier 3 are liable to be penalised with sanctions, including the withholding of non-humanitarian aid and assistance that could affect agreements with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Officials of the Tier-3 countries are also liable to be barred from participating in US government educational and cultural exchange programs. However, the US president retains the authority to waive the sanctions taking into account national interest or if he feels that the penalties could adversely affect vulnerable populations. The previous administrations of the US have often granted waivers for the tier-3 countries.

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China condemns US warship’s passage near disputed islands in South China Sea

China has strongly condemned US warship’s passage near disputed artificial islands in the South China Sea spiraling tensions between both nations.

On 22 October 2015, guided missile destroyer USS Lassen had entered the 12-nautical mile zone claimed by China around Zhubi reefs in the Spratly archipelago in South China Sea.

China is claiming its full sovereignty over these disputed islands and its adjacent waters in South China Sea.

  • China’s Argument: Patrolling and non-permitted entry of US Ship in Spratly archipelago has threatened its sovereignty and security interests and also harmed the regional peace and stability.
  • US Argument: The warship has entered in this region as it is having right of freedom of navigation in international waters and does not require any prior permission.

It is said that the US warship had undertaken this patrolling operation as part of its Freedom of Navigation programme aimed at challenging China’s claims over the artificial islands created in this disputed waters.

Background of Disputes in South China Sea

  • Disputes in South China Sea is fight mainly between China, Philippines, Vietnam over the  territory and sovereignty of Spratly and Parcels islands in South China Sea along with other atolls, reefs and rocky outcrops.
  • Importance of these islands: They are strategically located in South China Sea which is major international shipping route as world’s half merchant ships passes through it.
  • They are also having reserves of natural resources around them including petroleum.
  • China’s claim: It is saying that major portion of these islands belong to them as part of the historical events and area defined by Nine Dash Line.
  • Under its claim, China already has started and even completed building artificial islands and even strategic runways for mobilising its airforce from these islands.
  • India’s position: Explicitly supports and believes in international laws and arbitration process for resolving the disputes for regional stability.

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