Laogai: Reform Through (Forced) Labor
Laogai serves not only as a tool of repression and thought reform, but also as a largely free labor supply to generate revenue for the prison system and the Chinese Communist Party. Prisoners who are convicted and sentenced in court are incarcerated inside forced labor prison camps – Laogai. The system is distinctive in its stated goal of “THOUGHT REFORM.” Both common criminals and political prisoners are physically and psychologically coerced into accepting Party ideology through FORCED LABOR, TORTURE, INTIMIDATION, AND BRAINWASHING.
Who Pays for Laogai
Everyone is affected by Laogai products. The artificially low price of goods created by forced labor tilts the free market against those who follow the law. The U.S. has banned the importation of forced labor products, but manufacturers evade the rules by shifting country of origin, mixing legal products in with Laogai goods, and operating under different names.
“Productive and Socially Beneficial Work”
Profiteering from Forced Labor
Laogai, China’s vast system of forced labor prison camps, is one of the most extensive and repressive prison systems in the world with 3-5 million prisoners currently in the camps. An estimated 40-50 million Chinese have fallen victim to the system throughout its history.
FORCED LABOR is at the center of the Laogai’s professed mission of “reform,” and has been AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE CHINESE ECONOMY since the early 1950s. When Deng Xiaoping instituted sweeping economic reforms in the years after Mao’s death, the Laogai camps shifted from large infrastructure-building projects to factory-based enterprises.
With LITTLE OR NO LEGAL PROTECTIONS OR HUMAN RIGHTS in Laogai, prisoners can be forced to work long hours in dangerous conditions, from mining asbestos with no protective gear to handling battery acid with no gloves. THROUGH TRADE, PRODUCTS MADE BY PRISONERS FIND THEIR WAY ON TO DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL MARKETS.
Various Laogai Products
In more than two dozen provinces and major cities of China, there are “Laogai farms” and “Laogai factories” under their prison system. As many as one million prisoners of all kinds are in forced labor in the Laogai sites of those prisons. The product categories cover a wide range of industries. A considerable number of these products are sold to countries around the world. Only a tiny fraction of them are on display here.
Official Number formally arrested, imprisoned or killed 1949-1954
Jailed in the Laogai system since 1949
Mao in power
MORE THAN 50 MILLION
Unnatural deaths under Chinese Communist Party
Victims during the “Cultural Revolution” of 1966-1976
Died in Famine of 1959-1961