The United States plans to place China on its global list of worst offenders in human trafficking and forced labor, said a congressional source and a person familiar with the matter, a step that could aggravate tensions with Beijing that have eased under President Donald Trump.
The reprimand of China, Washington’s main rival in the Asia-Pacific region, would come despite Trump’s budding relationship with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and the U.S. president’s efforts to coax Beijing into helping to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has decided to drop China to “Tier 3,” the lowest grade, putting it alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria among others, said the sources, who have knowledge of the internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The rating is expected to be announced on Tuesday in an annual report published by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. A State Department official declined to comment on the report’s contents and said the department “does not discuss details of internal deliberations.”