Laogai Research Foundation

December, 1995 Newsletter

Laogai Research Foundation
Proposes U.S. Policy Changes

The Laogai Research Foundation proposes that the United States of America renounce the so-called "Memorandum of Understanding on Prison Labor" (MOU) which was signed with China in August, 1992.

The LRF further proposes that the Congress of the United States re-write the laws banning forced labor products. The MOU was negotiated by the Bush Administration in an attempt to prevent the issue of forced labor and the Laogai from being a factor in U.S./China relations. The Clinton Administration negotiated an implementation agreement to the MOU in early 1994 because compliance with the MOU was a "must do" condition for renewing MFN, and they knew the Chinese had not complied. The Administration used this new agreement as evidence of compliance.

The Chinese Government, of course, has never complied with the MOU. They have never honored the provision which requires them to respect U.S. law. For example, the Chinese government has denied completely that it has ever exported Laogai projects to the U.S. or any other country.

Just before Harry Wu left for China in June, 1995, he completed an investigation with NBC Nightly News on a Laogai product being exported to the United States. The product is known as expandable graphite. The Laogai camps is known as Beishu. The company in New Jersey is Asbury Graphite. An executive of Asbury admitted on national television that they knew Beishu was a forced labor camp. Harry Wu presented evidence from the camp itself that Beishu produces 100% of China expandable graphite for export. This occurred in June, 1995, nearly three years after the signing of the MOU.

If the U.S. renounces the MOU, it will send a signal to the P.R.C. that the U.S. government will not tolerate violations of international agreements. The LRF also believes that it will send a message that the U.S. will no longer pretend that the P.R.C. is complying with an agreement when they are not.

Existing laws regarding importing prison labor products were drawn up nearly sixty years ago in the United States. The law is rarely used and is basically ineffective in dealing with the modern realities of how the Chinese hide their forced labor products in export trade.

Any new laws should shift the burden of proof to Chinese companies. If found guilty of exporting forced labor products, these companies should be punished by having their trading privileges with the U.S. withdrawn for five years. In addition, entire categories of products should be banned if Laogai products are found in these exports. For example, if the U.S. Customs finds hand tools manufactured in a Laogai camp, they should have the authority to ban all hand tools from China.

At the moment, the Chinese are mixing Laogai products with legitimately made products. The U.S. cannot differentiate between them, but a system needs to be created that would detect such products.

Another provision of any new legislation should be the banning of all types of business with the Laogai system and U.S. firms. For example, it is not illegal for a U.S. Company to sell equipment to the Laogai. The LRF has found many European companies selling manufacturing equipment to Laogai camps. DOW Chemical Company tried to sell products in 1988 and 1989 to the Shenyang Xinsheng Chemical Factory, a huge Laogai camps which products over 50% of all of China’s output of a certain type of rubber vulcanizing chemical.

When Harry Wu was arrested at the Kazakhstan/China border in July, 1995, he noticed immediately that the plainclothes policemen and guards were all carrying Motorola cellular phones. It is the LRF’s beliefs that this is not an example of trade helping to build a democracy.


For more information about the Laogai Research Foundation, please contact:

The Laogai Research Foundation
P.O. Box 361375
Milpitas, CA 95036-1375

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