China has been demoted to a list of countries failing to meet minimum standards for the prevention of human trafficking, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the U.S. State Department. In addition to cosponsoring legislation to strengthen anti-human trafficking measures domestically, Senator Corker previously proposed the End Modern Slavery Initiative, which was created to leverage limited foreign aid dollars and galvanize support and investment from the public sector, philanthropic organizations, and the private sector to eliminate modern slavery and human trafficking around the globe.
Thus, the designation of China as one of the world's worst offenders in human trafficking is part of a cascade of signals from Washington that relations between the United States and China could soon slide steeply downhill, just as relations between the United States and Russian Federation are reaching depths not seen since the Cold War.
Last year when the United States released its Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 2016 report, Ghana was classified as a Tier 2 Watch List Country, which meant that the government did not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons and failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in the past year. The last time China was ranked part of this group was in 2013, and since then it had moved up a half-notch.
The U.S. State Department was expected to unveil later Tuesday a 2017 human trafficking report that downgrades China to the lowest "Tier 3" category, which includes North Korea, Zimbabwe and Syria.
In the past, the impact of a Tier 3 downgrade has pressured United States companies to more closely examine their supply chains, as seen when Thailand was downgraded to Tier 3 on the 2014 report. The Trump administration has been seeking China's help to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear program, and Tillerson said Tuesday that China's failure to crack down on forced labor from North Korea was among the reasons it was downgraded.
Both countries have significant problems with child sex trafficking, while in the DRC "several armed groups continued to abduct and forcibly recruit Congolese men, women, and children as combatants and in support roles", the report said.
Ivanka Trump has tried to make the fight against human trafficking one of her signature issues. She said combating trafficking is a "major foreign policy priority for the Trump administration". "On a personal level, as a mother, this is much more than a policy priority", she said.