China urges US to reflect on its labour-rights violations

50 US states have reported cases of forced labour & human trafficking, says Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian


Xinhua June 21, 2021
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian attends a news conference in Beijing, China September 10, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

China urges the United States to stop applying double standards on labour issues and reflect on its own serious violations of labour rights, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a daily news briefing on Monday.

Responding to a query on US remarks at the 109th International Labour Conference, spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that every perpetrator of forced labour and child labour should be held accountable for their actions.

He said that an examination of the US record on labour rights shows that, over the past five years, all 50 US states and Washington DC have reported cases of forced labour and human trafficking, with as many as 100,000 people trafficked to the United States from abroad for forced labour every year.

According to statistics from some academic institutions in the United States, at least half a million people in the country have been subjected to modern slavery and forced labour, Zhao said, adding that the US Department of Homeland Security admitted that forced labour is widespread in the United States. The victims include both domestic citizens and foreign citizens from almost every region in the world, including vulnerable groups such as women, children and the disabled.

Also read: Forced child labour: China holds up mirror to US

On child labour rights, the United States is the only country in the world that has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), Zhao said. Statistics show that there are about 500,000 child farm-workers in the United States, with many children starting from the age of 8 and working up to 72 hours a week. It is not uncommon to work more than 10 hours a day. Half of the child-labour deaths in the United States came from the agricultural sector. From 2003 to 2016, a total of 237 child labourers died in agricultural accidents in the United States, four times more than in other industries.

He said the International Labour Organization (ILO) has repeatedly expressed concern at the serious accidents experienced by child workers on US farms, and urged the US government to take measures to strengthen supervision and provide detailed statistics on child labour in the agricultural sector.

The United States ratified only 2 of 8 core conventions of the ILO, Zhao said, and relevant international labour union organizations have determined that there are systemic violations of labour rights in the country.

"What the United States should do now is to abandon its moral superiority, stop applying double standards on labour issues, reflect on its own serious violations of labour rights, and take the responsibility for them," he said.

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