Wu, himself a prisoner in the Chinese laogai (forced labor camps) for 19 years, presents a well-documented analysis of the several thousand laogai where an estimated 16-20 million Chinese, perhaps 10% of them political offenders, labor on prison farms, & in factories & workshops, in a harsh atmosphere permeated by sadism, torture, & malnutrition. He provides the most comprehensive documentation of where & how China handles its prisons, & of the part played by prison labor -- a source of reliable & cheap production -- in China's surge into the international market economy. Illustrated.
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In this original and evocative work, Hongda Harry Wu reveals the hidden world of the laogaidui--the PRC's labor reform camps--to the Western reader. Wu, himself a survivor of nineteen years in the camps, takes the reader through the harsh landscape found there. He thoroughly explains their ideological origins, complex structure, and living conditions--which the author claims are approached only by the Nazi concentration camps and the Soviet Gulag. What makes the PRC's laogaidui unique, according to Wu, is the essential contribution to China's GNP of the commodities produced by the prisoners and the concomitant indispensability to the nation's economic health. The author bolsters the text with a rich compilation of photographs, charts, and maps that reflect his exhaustive research and personal history in the camps. This book provides a comprehensive view of the grim reality of the labor camps, presenting a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the PRC.From Library Journal:
When Harry Wu's home videos of the Chinese gulag were shown on 60 Minutes last September, the American public first learned the dirty secret of China's extensive network of forced labor (laogai) camps. (Earlier, the human rights group Asia Watch showed that Chinese convict labor products were being illegally exported to the United States.) Wu, himself a laogai prisoner for 19 years, is an authentic voice from the vast silence of China's hidden empire. His spare, sober account is a well-documented analysis of the several thousand forced labor camps, where an estimated 16 to 20 million Chinese, perhaps ten percent of them political offenders, labor on prison farms, and in factories and workshops, in a harsh atmosphere permeated by sadism, torture, and malnutrition. The Chinese Communists obviously learned many lessons from their Soviet comrades, whose gulag Solzhenitsyn so brilliantly chronicled. This is a unique and valuable contribution to our understanding of post-1949 China.
- Steven I. Levine, Boulder Run Research, Hillsborough, N.C.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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