Combatting Sex and Human Trafficking: A Growing Issue in the U.S.-China Relationship


October 5, 2022

The issue of human rights has long been one of the thorniest issues in the U.S.-China relationship. Both countries publish annual reports lambasting the perceived human rights violations of the other country, and U.S. condemnation of Chinese policies in Xinjiang affecting the Uyghur population routinely dominate media headlines as well as the attention of policymakers in both countries. But one human rights issue to which little attention is paid by either country, relatively speaking, is the illicit massage business in the United States, an industry whose trafficking victims are nearly all of Chinese descent. Why are these victims primarily all Chinese, who are the operators of these businesses and who are the clients? What can be done to combat these illegal activities? And specifically, what can the United States and China do to stop human trafficking and support current victims?

Host Euhwa Tran, chief program officer and chief of staff at the Bush China Foundation, is joined by Chris Muller-Tabanera, chief strategy officer at The Network to explore these questions.

The Network is an intelligence-driven counter-human trafficking organization. Mr. Muller-Tabanera leads The Network’s efforts to defeat traffickers by learning how their business works, identifying their vulnerabilities, creating risk, and then strategically disrupting it. He speaks and writes extensively about the illicit massage industry, is featured in numerous articles on the issue and is a contributing author for the book, The Historical Roots of Human Trafficking: Informing Primary Prevention of Commercialized Violence.

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