China and Britain agree action on sex trafficking

A drive against the "scourge" of sex trafficking from China to Britain was agreed by the two countries at the end of David Cameron’s two-day visit to Beijing.

Half of the 2,600 young prostitutes smuggled into the country every year are thought to come from China.

It is also the source of a high proportion of the workers sent to work illegally in British farms and factories at sweat-shop wages. The trade was tragically highlighted by the deaths of 23 Chinese cockle-pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay in 2004.

The two governments agreed to share information about the “snakehead gangs” behind lucrative sex trafficking operations. They will attempt to identify the key figures in the trade and the routes they use to spirit prostitutes into Britain.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “China is an absolutely critical partner in our efforts to crack down on the scourge of human trafficking. This is a significant milestone in those efforts.”

Under the agreement regular meetings will he held between police from the two countries. The first will take place in London this month when officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency host a delegation from the Chinese ministry of public security.

Britain also signalled its concern that a significant proportion of the money from organised crime in this country was laundered through China.

The two governments also promised to pool expertise on combating kidnapping and extortion.