Last official update: December 30, 2020

Human Rights


Quality of Life rights (or ‘economic and social rights’) include the rights to food, health, education, housing, and work. There’s no summary score due to the absence of data on the right to education. The Right to Food rates a 91.8%, Health 97.9%, Housing 83% and Work 89.2% when scored against the ‘Income adjusted’ benchmark. This score takes into account Brazil’s resources and how well it is using them to make sure these rights are fulfilled.

Since anything less than 100% indicates that a country is not meeting its current duty under international human rights law, our assessment is that China has some way to go to meet its rights duty.

Source: 2017 – Human Rights Measurement Initiative



2Repeated violations of rights

Ranking countries on the degree of respect for workers’ rights.

Source: 2019 – International Trade Union Confederation



111 /167 – Country Rank

The Prevalence Index Rank ranks countries on the relative prevalance of modern slavery. A higher rank indicates a higher prevalence.

Source: 2018 – Global Slavery Index

The Vulnerability to Modern Slavery (lower is better)

Source: 2018 – Global Slavery Index

Conflict & Security


3/5Violent crisis

The Conflict Barometer ranks intra-, inter-, trans- and substate conflicts worldwide based on intesity, including violent as well as non-violent conflicts. The violent conflicts are differentiated between violent crises, limited wars or wars.

Source: 2019 – Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research

Conflict & Security


Medium state of peace
104 /163 – Country Rank

The Global Peace Index (GPI) measures more than just the presence or absence of war. It captures the absence of violence or the fear of violence across three domains: Safety and Security, Ongoing Conflict, and Militarisation.

Source: 2020 – The Institute for Economics & Peace

Human Rights

Freedom House

10 /100
Not Free – Status

Freedom House rates people’s access to political rights and civil liberties.

Source: 2020 – Freedom House

Human Rights


69.9 /120 – Score
86 /178 – Country Rank

The Human Rights and Rule of Law Indicator by the FSI considers the relationship between the state and its population insofar as fundamental human rights are protected and freedoms are observed and respected.

Source: 2020 – Fragile State Index



Control of corruption captures perceptions of the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain, including both petty and grand forms of corruption, as well as “capture” of the state by elites and private interests.

Source: 2019 – The WorldBank's Worldwide Governance Indicator

Regulatory quality captures perceptions of the ability of the government to formulate and implement sound policies and regulations that permit and promote private sector development.

Source: 2019 – The WorldBank's Worldwide Governance Indicator

Rule of law captures perceptions of the extent to which agents have confidence in and abide by the rules of society, and in particular the
quality of contract enforcement, property rights, the police, and the courts, as well as the likelihood of crime and violence.

Source: – The WorldBank's Worldwide Governance Indicator


Transparency International

41 /100 – Score
80 /198 – Country Rank

The Corruption Perceptions Index scores and ranks countries/territories based on how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be by experts and business executives. It is a composite index, a combination of 13 surveys and assessments of corruption, collected by a variety of reputable institutions. The CPI is the most widely used indicator of corruption worldwide.

Source: 2019 – Transparency International

Notice: The information provided is for informational, non-commercial purposes only, and it does not constitute advice. The property rights remain at the rightful owners when publicly available information is presented from other sources. Any maps displayed on the site are purely illustrative and not indicative of borders. We do not take any position on border disputes.

China Sector Reports

China timber sector analysis (2020)

Go to sector analysis.

Areas of Interest

China has a CPI score of 41 which means the risk of corruption is high. Personal relations are important in the Chinese business culture which results in blurred lines between helping each other and corruption. Sectors heavily regulated by the government are most susceptible to corruption with officials closing an eye to mistakes made by befriended businesses. Finally, official approvals are frequently for sale.

Chinese law prohibits labour for children under 16 years, adolescents between 16 and 18 years old can be employed under certain conditions. However, child labour is known to be an issue in China.

China is classified as a Tier 3 country in the US Department of State’s 2020 trafficking in persons report, which means the Chinese government does not fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Trafficking is not mentioned in relation to the timber sector in China report.

Discrimination at the workplace is not prohibited by any legislation and there are strong indications that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, physical appearance and gender identity is common in China. A 2018 UNDP study found that 21% of LGBTI people experienced difficulties at the beginning of their job search. Chinese women have also reported that discrimination is a significant problem.

According to the Freedom House Country List, China is considered “not free” which means the county has an oppressive regime regarding political rights and civil liberties. There is arbitrary interference with privacy and substantial restrictions on freedom of movement (for travel within the country and overseas).

Press freedom is severely limited: with a score of 78,48 (0 = best score, 100 = worst score) China is ranked 177 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index. Physical attacks on and criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others as well as their family members are reported as well as censorship and site blocking.

The ILO-conventions on forming unions and collective negotiation (C87 and C98) are not signed by China. Freedom of association is also not protected by law and there are no independent trade unions. Instead, all local and sectoral trade union are obliged to join the only authorised union (ACFTU) which is loyal to the government. A call to strike can lead to prison sentence. There are reports of labour activists and human rights defenders getting arrested, detained and sentenced with risks of torture and ill-treatment.

China has a longstanding and continuing record of severe violations of freedom of religion. A campaign in recent years tries to reduce and erase religious practice as well as cultural and linguistic heritage of religious and ethnic communities, targeting Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims as well as Protestant Christians and followers of Falun Gong. Authorities were reported to have detained more than a million people in extrajudicial internment camps designed to erase religious and ethnic identities with reports of security officials in the camps abusing, torturing and killing detainees. Further, there are strong indications of discriminatory passport practices on the basis of religion and ethnicity.

Recent reports flag that most ethnic minorities are exposed to serious human rights challenges, including higher poverty rates, discrimination and forced relocation. In Xinjiang region, ethnic minorities face discrimination, intimidation, arbitrary detention, torture and other forms of abuse.

The Labour Law of People’s Republic of China (1994) and the Labour Contract Law of the People’s Republic of China (2008) are the most relevant laws regarding labour rights. Most aspects included in international conventions are covered by Chinese labour laws, such as:
• freedom of association;
• the right to equal pay for equal work;
• abolition of slavery and forced labour;
• abolition of child labour; and
• the right to social security

There are however issues that are not sufficiently covered, like the right to non-discrimination and the right to privacy. Further, certain issues are protected by the law but not adequately implemented in practice including the freedom of association and the right to peaceful assembly.

On the ITUC Global Rights Index (scale 1-5) for freedom of association and workers’ rights, China scores 5 which makes it among the worst countries in the world to work in. With no guarantee of rights, workers are exposed to unfair labour practices under often autocratic regimes. The US Department of State reports interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, and severe restrictions on labour rights, including a ban on workers organizing or joining unions of their own choosing. Activists and human rights defenders are detained, prosecuted and sentenced on charges like “subverting state power” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” with the risk of torture and ill-treatment.

Chinese businesses employ tens of millions of migrant workers, many from poorer west of China. While on paper they have the same rights, in practice migrant workers are more vulnerable to experience breaches of job contracts, poor living conditions, non-payment of wages, unhealthy working conditions and long working hours (MVO Nederland, 2020b).

A study executed in 2017 shows that 75% of migrant workers in China leave their children in the region of origin, due to low income, long working days and lack of childcare. There is strong evidence that employers offer little support for childcare to their migrant workers (MVO Nederland, 2020b).

What can be considered a living wage in China depends highly on the region. For an urban family of 3.5 (of which 1.78 workers) in Chengdu, a living wage was determined to be 370 USD/month (July 2019), whereas for the same family in Shanghai the living wage would be 641 USD/month (August 2019) (Global Living Wage, 2020b).

A large number of CSR norms and guidelines have been issued by Chinese industry associations and local authorities. Since 2008, state-owned companies in China need to publish an annual CSR report. Stock exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen promote CSR to publicly listed companies. CSR awareness and enforcement varies per region and is generally better known in the more developed parts (Beijing, Shanghai and the Pearl River Delta) and less in the poorer western region. More than 300 state-owned and private companies in China have joined Global Compact, an initiative to improve human rights, worker conditions, the environment and fight corruption (RVO, 2016b).

Excessive force is used against protestors by police and gang members (Human Rights Watch, 2020). Other significant human rights issues reported for China are arbitrary or unlawful killings by the government, forced disappearances by the government, torture and arbitrary detention by the government. Added to the list are harsh and life-threatening prison and detention conditions and political prisoners (US Department of State, 2019b).

For women in China, the following issues have been reported as significant problems: discrimination, unfair dismissal, demotion and wage discrepancies. On average women earn 35% less than men for similar work, with a greater wage gap in rural areas. Women are underrepresented in leadership positions and higher education (MVO Nederland, 2020b).

The Global Wage Report 2018/19 (ILO, 2019) indicates that Chinese women earn 21% (median and mean) less than Chinese men per hour, taking into consideration factors of education, age, working-time status (part-time or full-time) and type of employer (private-sector vs. public-sector employment). Looking at monthly earnings, the factor-weighted gender pay gap is slightly higher with female workers receiving 22-24% (mean-median) less pay than male workers (ILO, 2019).