Karine Lepillez


With a population of 1.3 billion and a gross domestic product growing at an impressive rate of 10 percent per year, China has quickly become one of the largest contributors to the global market. Deng Xiaoping’s reforms of the late 1970s and early 1980s vastly improved the country’s standard of living and made economic development possible; unfortunately, China’s remarkable growth has a dark side: the forced labor of men, women and children. The country’s unique combination of Communist ideology and decentralized economic power has contributed to the use of both state-sanctioned and unsanctioned forced labor, the latter of which is perpetuated through ineffective policies, corruption, and a lack of legal enforcement. Systematic statistics on the extent of forced labor are not available due to China’s repressive political system. However, news articles, reports, research, and the testimonies of past forced laborers attest to the severity of the situation.

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