Laogai Research Foundation
December, 1995 Newsletter
World Bank Responds to LRF Report
On December 20, the World Bank responded to the LRFs report, claiming that it found no evidence to support the LRFs allegations about World Bank projects in China. World Bank officials released a counter report after undertaking investigations at the World Bank office in Washington, D.C., at their office in Beijing and at the Tarim Basin project site. "The investigations included a detailed review of contracts, plans and other documents pertaining to the project, right down to the village and household level, plus on-site interviews and inspections." Furthermore, the investigation was conducted independently of the Chinese government, stated the World Bank report, with the cooperation of its officials. The report concluded the following:
Mr. Wus claims are unsubstantiated. The Bank is satisfied that its funds in Xinjiang and in other parts of China are being used for the purposes intended.
The Tarim Basin Project has been implemented as planned, providing significant benefits to more than half a million very poor people - most of them members of the mainly Muslim Uygur minority- in on of the most arid parts of China.
The Bank is satisfied that the Xinjiang State Farm Organization is implementing Bank projects without the use of forced labor.
Laogai Research Foundation
Discredits World Bank Response
The LRF issued an immediate response to the World Banks report. It believes that the World Bank used officials who were responsible for project decision-making to undertake their investigation, rather than calling upon an independent international commission to investigate the Tarim Basin Project. In essence, those charged with the investigation were investigating themselves which defies impartiality of the results.
The World Bank also relied on the representation of the Chinese government as authoritative and truthful. It should be noted that the Chinese government has officially and repeatedly over the past five years categorically denied that forced labor products are exported to the West. Any investigation on the part of the World Bank in cooperation with Chinese officials is subject to suspicion to its authenticity.
The World Bank also criticized the LRF for errors in a map of the region which detailed the close proximity of the Laogai in the area. The LRF simply used the same map taken from the Banks own Staff Appraisal Report on the project. In addition, the LRF finds it inconceivable that the World Bank was able to conduct a thorough investigation of all its projects in China within a six-week period.
In conclusion, the LRF calls again upon the World Bank to conduct an independent international investigation of the Tarim Project Basin and its 162 other projects in China to determine the relationship between its projects and the Laogai system. The World Bank should make all supporting documentation on its investigation available to the press and to the LRF for a detailed examination.
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