The “sweatshop” hidden in the prison

Author:Yizu
Translator: Lish/Julia
Proofread: Cheli

Image source: http://istiqlalhaber.com/

The experience of being held in Qingfeng police station for more than 20 months completely changed Mr. Guo Wengui’s fate, and the hardship brought the first person to take down the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) today.

I have always wanted to write about the darkness of the prison inside Communist China. In late September, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act of 2020 with 229 votes for and 187 against. The Act requires U.S. listed companies with business dealings in the Xinjiang region to disclose details of their manufacturing supply chains, including whether their products are manufactured or produced through forced labor and whether those labors are related to the Xinjiang Uighur concentration camps. Although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the CCP has always denied the existence of forced labor, the term ” Labor Reform prisoner ” is very familiar in China, and Labor Reform is considered one of the legitimate ways to rehabilitate prisoners. There may be only one prison in China called Qincheng Prison, where inmates are not subject to forced labor. Because under the Party system, the “senior” inmates of Qincheng Prison were merely victims of political struggle and were eliminated within the party.

By chance, I know some friends who work in prison. One of them is my classmate whom I had never met after graduation, and after many years he came to my city on a business trip for the first time. We met and talked very happily, but after a while, the classmate said, “Is anyone in jail in your family?” All of a sudden, I was bewildered by the question. How could he speak like that? Our family members are all legally concerned. He felt that I was a bit uncomfortable. He immediately explained: “Let me know if someone in your family went to jail, I could take care of that person, such as arrange easier work, medical parole and earlier release. Suddenly, I understood and talked with him about the situation in prison. Then I felt its real darkness. At that time, I was puzzled and asked: “how could it be possible to take care of someone in any prison all over the country?” He then replied: “prisons in the province are all in one judicial system, and in the system, anyone could ask someone else for help to take care of somebody.” In China, everything depends on Guanxi (Social relationship), even in prisons. It can be seen that justice in China is a joke.

Another classmate holds a second-in-command position in prison in a neighboring province. He travels to my city for business almost every year to exchange experiences with the local prison. Because I am engaged in international trade, so he has told me several times that I should place orders in their prison. He spoke to me with grandiosity that “We have many prisoners and they are so easy to manage, and we don’t even need to pay them. “I didn’t understand why the state penalty enforcement institution, could also conduct commercial activities. Then I asked whether he is managing the prison or open a factory to make money? He laughed and said: “The prison also has a company, and I just need to pay the management fee to this company. “Every time I refused him with the excuse that the product was invested greatly in the early stage and the technical requirements were high. Of course, half of the reason was afraid that the customer would not accept it, and half of it was out of my conscience. This kind of prison company is definitely not a single phenomenon in China. Whether it is legal and compliant or a gray area, there is no in-depth investigation. I believe that every prison manager in China has such a small treasury, exploiting prisoners’ free labor for their own personal gain, and poor prisoners can only be like slaves in prison to work without pay year after year, until being released from jail.

I had some dealings with Wal-Mart, Auchan and other supermarket chains in my work. Once we welcomed a department head of a European supermarket, who said to us after seeing the factory, “Your factory is very good, I don’t have much concern about the quality of your products. But because our supermarkets have a high reputation in many European countries, the first thing we want to ensure is the human rights situation of our workers, and I hope that your workers are treated well, that is the reason why I come here”. I was impressed by what he said and made me feel that western capitalists still have some spiritual dimension to pursue.

However, the dream is prosperous, but the reality is very skeletal. What about the actual situation? The Sunday Times reported that a 6-year-old British girl found a message in the Christmas card she brought from Tesco, revealing that Chinese prisoners are forced to make Christmas cards. The message on that Christmas card read in English, “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu Prison China, forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organizations.” In Communist China there is a saying that giving things to foreigners rather than to domestic slaves. The treatment of foreign prisoners is stronger evidence that Chinese prisoners are forced to work.

According to my years of international trade experience, to sell products to these giant buyers, there are still certain thresholds. For instance, Chinese suppliers must supply high-quality products and go through a set of complicated audit processes required by foreign buyers. Just the files they have to prepare alone are very thick each time. The process has a relatively well-defined set of standards from hardware to software, from production management to safety management, worker wages and benefits, and human rights conditions. For example, the staff dormitory cannot be in the same building with the production plant, and must have a safe distance between them; and the working hours cannot be less than certain of hours per week, etc. In addition, factory inspection is entrusted to a third-party organization to ensure its impartiality, and under the standard procedure, a prison factory is impossible to pass the examination.

Why did the little Christmas card from a prisoner come across the sea to the hands of the little British girl? I have no concrete evidence, but I can provide some clues to help you analyze the cause. First of all, Tesco might not directly purchase from the factory, but through intermediaries. Intermediaries might have played a dishonorable role, which buys Christmas cards at meager prices from the Qingpu prison factory and whitewashes them through a standard Christmas card factory. Secondly, as far as I know, third-party inspection agencies’ corruption is also well-known in the inner- circle. Inspectors are treated like a lord, provided with food, accommodation and red envelopes (bribery money). They could write false reports as long as you are willing to give money. Lastly, Tesco’s procurement staff accept bribes, turn a blind eye, as long as the following suppliers submit a complete set of documents. Even if they know in their hearts the prison factory, they will not point it out. Any of the above can bypass Tesco’s factory inspection procedures. Therefore, those Christmas cards from Qingpu Prison appeared on the shelves of supermarkets. Behind those beautiful Christmas cards filled with the blood and tears of Chinese prisoners.

I believe that many other products from the prisons of the Communist China have gone to thousands of homes around the world, just like this little Christmas card. In such a country controlled by the CCP without human rights, even normal factories cannot protect workers’ rights, not to mention those who lose their freedom and work in prison? They might be lucky to survive out of prison compared to those who were unjustly sentenced to death, or removed organs for living transplants. But every time I think of this boundless darkness, it erodes my heart. The death of the CCP is imminent, and I believe the amnesty proposed by Mr. Guo’s will save these tens of millions of forced prisoners and their families.

Pray for all the Chinese.

(The content of the article represents the views of the author only)

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tokyosamurai
3 months ago

The amnesty is so important especially for those so-called political prision, most of them are good people with conscience and deserve go back normal life immediately.

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crazysquirrel
3 months ago

In the USA, all prisoners are SLAVES as per the 13th Amendment.

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