China's Secret Labor Camps: Laogai Prison Survivor Speaks Out

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Originally published July 14, 2015. Original text below:

"In China, they want you to become [a] new socialist person, and that's the purpose of the labor camps," says Harry Wu, a survivor of the prison system known as "Laogai," which means "reform through labor."

"The major job in the prison camp is to survive, to find food, that's it," says Wu.

When the Communist Party of China came to power in 1956, Mao invited Soviet state experts into the country to develop a Gulag-style prison network to suppress "counter-revolutionaries" and torture political opposition.

At the age of 23, Wu was imprisoned in the Laogai system simply because his father was a banker. While the official numbers are a state secret, at the height of Mao's reign, Wu estimates there were "1,000 labor camps and probably more than 40 million people in the prison camps."

After Mao died in 1979, the Laogai system was gradually dismantled and most political prisoners, including Wu, were released.

By 2013, the Chinese government officially turned away from using labor camps as a tactic of "re-education." But last year, a report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission expressed "legitimate doubts" that China has entirely stopped the practice of sending prisoners to labor camps.

After he immigrated to America, Wu opened the Laogai Museum to honor the victims and to spread awareness of the ongoing human rights abuse by the Communist Party of China. Wu is also the founder of the Laogai Research Foundation.

The Laogai Museum is located in Washington D.C., but Wu hopes someday to relocate it to China.

"One thing is very, very simple: No one in China believes communism is their future," he says. When it will be entirely gone, however, "we do not know."

Produced by Joshua Swain and Robert Mariani.

Approximately 4 minutes.

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  1. At some point, they should put Mao’s mortal remains into a [name of device omitted].

    1. Tanning bed?

    2. Slapchop?

      1. Close enough.

      2. +1 “You’re going to love my nuts!”

    3. Hitler?

    4. Dong?

    5. Mortar round?

  2. I can’t believe they’re still flying that flag.

    1. *Narrows gaze*

      …I see what you did there.

    2. This is a country that refuses to acknowledge the Tiananmen Square Massacre to the point of screening pictures of rubber duckies on google.

      Massive currency and market manipulations. They build entire cities that nobody will ever live in just to give people jobs.

      They are building a military specifically designed for asymmetric warfare against the US. They are currently conducting cyber warfare, not just against the US government, but against practically every IP in the country (trust me, they try to hack my NAS and servers CONSTANTLY).

      I cannot understand why people treat China like anything other than what it is, a communist dictatorship with a thin veneer of “democracy” and “market economics” that is just utter bullshit.

      1. I think you miss-spelled US Federal Government…

        Just sayin

        1. Ohhhhhh,SNAP!

          +1 for the reptiles

        2. I heard they also tried to attach the Nirubian Council mainframe. Apparently they gave up after determining that your “advanced computer technology” was really just a cobbled together set of scripts that attempt to download as much of our porn as possible before you destroy our civilization.

          1. *attack, dammit

            1. Indeed, destruction would be a waste of food. Also your assumptions about our digital infiltration are correct. Some of out kind entertain certain proclivities.

        3. I find little difference these days in the government of the USA and China. When a federal judge can ignore three psychiatrists and order “treatment” for a man who was only convicted of campaign donation violations (which are usually winked at anyway), I see a return to the gulag system.

          Which is why I approve of using woodchippers for their proper political purpose.

          1. I really hate this meme. The US government drives me as crazy as it does the next guy here, but if you can’t see a difference in degree between its behavior and the PRC’s, then you’re obviously not paying attention to what actually goes on in China.

            1. True, The difference in subtlety is considerable between the two. However the desires and motivation of both are the same.

  3. I only wish my Asian urologist had Larry Wu-style subtitles.

    1. Confucius say: Man who pee through screen strain himself.

        1. Well, someone had to de-class the discussion.

  4. Germany and Austria also had a death camp slogan: arbeit macht frei! George Orwell translated it as Freedom is Slavery. This was at about the same time Ayn Rand, writing Atlas Shrugged, penned a letter outlining what would later become the non-aggression principle.

  5. AmSuck…sucking Mao dick.

  6. There should never let a post regarding the horrors of China and its government go by without mentioning Thomas Friedman’s professed desire for the US “to be China for a day”.

    1. They know how to Get Things Done?.

      1. It’s ironic how the same progressives that claim to worship and adore democracy are so willing to throw democracy into the woodchipper in the name of Getting Things Done.

  7. I thought the first rule of Gulag was you never mention Gulag?

  8. Yet another example of how the metacontext treats totalitarian collectivism putatively from the left so much differently than that putatively from the right.

    1. Exactly. Fascism is belligerent nationalism/militarism combined with mercantilism and central planning via state cartelization of private industry. China is the most sterling example of this on the planet today.

  9. When the Communist Party of China came to power in 1956, Mao invited Soviet state experts into the country to develop a Gulag-style prison network to suppress “counter-revolutionaries” and torture political opposition.

    There are a few of our domestic socialists who haven’t heard about all of these “awesome” ideas employed by their more experienced socialist role models. Fortunately, very few of them read Reason articles.

    1. Foolish mammal, such facilities are being built as we speak. However out minions keep puttin “FEMA Camps” on the signs, instead of “Cattle Ranch”

  10. Seriously though, if they’d just called it National Service, it would be awesome and we should impose the same thing here in America

  11. I don’t think you even know what socialism means, rat fucking baggers!

  12. “When the Communist Party of China came to power in 1956 …”

    On October 1, 1949, Mao declared the establishment of the PRC from the walls of the Forbidden City to crowds assembled in Tianamen Square.

    1. By 1956, they had already managed to kill 50+ million people.

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