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Is Macao on par with Afghanistan when it comes to human trafficking?

The US has categorised Macao as a Tier 3 destination for human trafficking, along with Afghanistan, Syria and Iran
  • Washington awards itself Tier 1 status in spite of the fact that as many as 325,000 women and children and trafficked in the US annually according to official figures





Macao’s government has strongly condemned a report by the US State Department categorising the SAR (and the rest of China) as a Tier 3 territory for human trafficking, alongside Afghanistan, Syria and Iran. 

According to the US State Department’s 2024 Trafficking in Persons Report, Macao’s government “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, based on publicly available information.” 

It urged the SAR to increase its efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict sex and labour traffickers, “including those potentially operating in casinos and other entertainment establishments.”

In response, the Office of the Secretary for Security issued a statement expressing “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to the US’ report. It emphasised Macao’s use of internationally accepted strategies to combat human trafficking, protect victims and coordinate authorities to carry out investigations.

[See more: The SAR government issues a strong rebuff to the latest EU report on Macao]

“Authoritative data and information show that Macao is one of the safest and most dynamic international tourist cities in the world, and [this status] must not be distorted,” the statement read.

It also described human trafficking rates in the SAR as having been “very low or even zero for many years” and accused the US “not facing up to the serious situation of human trafficking in its own country.” (Washington has categorised itself as Tier 1, or “fully compliant” with minimum standards, in spite of its significant trafficking problems).

A message included in the report from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted an estimated 27 million people were exploited for labour, services and commercial sex each year. “Traffickers prey on some of the world’s most marginalised and vulnerable individuals – profiting from their plight,” he said.

However, Washington frequently uses the language of human rights to berate its geopolitical rivals while ignoring its own violations. According to US nonprofit DeliverFund, as many as 325,000 women and children are forced into sexual slavery in the US every year, while labour trafficking can take place on “a large corporate scale.”

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