Underreported: China's Gulag Prison System

Thursday, November 19, 2009

President Obama was in China this week and he did speak out on the country’s human rights record. On today’s first Underreported segment, we’re taking a look at China’s expansive prison system, formerly called Laogai. We’ll examine how it was modeled after the Soviet gulag system and the accusations that forced labor is used in the camps. We’ll speak with Harry Wu, founder of the Laogai Research Foundation and Nicole Kempton, who edited the foundation’s book Laogai: The Machinery of Repression in China.


Nicole Kempton, and Harry Wu,

Comments [5]

Nicole Kemptonn from LRF from Washington, DC

@Sandra - You asked about organ harvesting. Yes, it's a huge problem. China is second in the world behind the US in organ transplants, but the vast majority of these come from executed prisoners, and the death penalty is a major feature of the Chinese judicial system. There are 68 capital offenses (including many non-violent crimes), and China executes more prisoners than every other nation combined. You can read more about organ harvesting on our website or in Laogai: The Machinery of Repression in China.

Nov. 19 2009 02:41 PM
Nicole Kemptonn from LRF from Washington, DC

@Mark - You bring up an interesting point I didn't have the opportunity to discuss during the show. The Chinese criminal justice system is very different from the US. Most people who wind up in the Laogai system are not given access to a fair trial, and the notion of "due process" doesn't exist. There's no independent judiciary (in fact many judges don't even have legal training), and people are presumed guilty. Conviction rates are incredibly high as a result. For example, conviction for the charge of "endangering state security" (the most common charge applied to political prisoners) is 99 percent. Labor is also quite different - prisoners are unpaid, and work in slave labor conditions. We just documented a case in Yunnan Province at a prison operating as a garment and diesel machinery factory where women were working 16 hours a day, and if they didn't fulfill their quota, they were denied their food rations, for example. You can learn more by looking at our website Thanks so much for listening!

Nov. 19 2009 02:39 PM
john from office

Remember that many people on th eleft admired Stalin, Mao and their political systems. They remained silent as the killing fields of cambodia filled. All showing the shallowness of the left.

Nov. 19 2009 01:54 PM
Sandra from Astoria, Queens

Are these prisoners subject to forced organ harvesting?

Nov. 19 2009 01:38 PM

Wow, only 3-5 million currently? Then I guess China is way behind America in per capita imprisonment. Do they make license plates and office furniture like our prisoners?

So is this press tour by these guys part of the Obama trade war against China?

Nov. 19 2009 01:34 PM

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