Laogai Research Foundation

September, 1996 Newsletter

Jeff Fiedler (left), Teresa Buczacki (Center) and Harry Wu testifies at U.S. Senate Hearing on World Bank financing of Labor Camps in Xinjiang Province. Mrs. Buczacki is a former member of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

The Tarim Basin Project

The World Bank and
Chinese Forced Labor

When Harry Wu traveled to China in 1994, he included Xinjiang province, "China’s Siberia", in his list of areas to be investigated. Unaware that the World Bank was conducting a project there, Mr. Wu went to the Tarim Basin area in order to gather evidence of Laogai camps in the region.

As a result of his discoveries, in October 1995 the Laogai Research Foundation published a report on the forced labor camps in Xinjiang. The report, entitled "The World Bank and Chinese Forced Labor: Mistake or Moral Bankruptcy?", focused on the Tarim Basin Project of the World Bank and the roles of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC). The report cited the presence of seven Laogai camps in the project area unmentioned by the Bank. Most telling of this oversight was the presence of Pailou Farm, a known Laogai camp, on Bank maps. The connection between the XPCC and the People’s Liberation Army was also highlighted in the report. The Laogai Research Foundation concluded with a call for an independent investigation into World Bank projects in Xinjiang.

The World Bank responded to the report by sending their own representatives to examine activities in Xinjiang. The report they issued in December 1995 upon the conclusion of their visit stated that no relation between the People’s Liberation Army and the XPCC could be determined. "The mission was assured that the functions of this organization had no relation to the People’s Liberation Army... The mission found no strong evidence to confirm or contradict this strong assurance." The World Bank refers to the XPCC as the Xinjiang State Farms Organization, and it omits mention of this organization’s military functions.

The Laogai Research Foundation was disappointed with the Bank investigation. Bank efforts to minimize the Xinjiang Laogai system proved to be unsuccessful in stopping our own investigation.

The Foundation continued to research the XPCC and the World Bank. Findings that refute the Bank’s conclusions were published in an April report titled "The World Bank and the Chinese Military: Ignorance—Incompetence— or Cover-Up?".

Historically, the XPCC has been an "effective" branch of the Chinese military. They proved themselves to the Beijing government in 1983 by successfully detaining 100,000 prisoners sent to Xinjiang. The Laogai Research Foundation has discovered that the XPCC was instrumental in squelching a Uygur "rebellion" in April 1990 and in participating in regional crackdowns in the Spring of 1989. It was also noted that the XPCC possessed a large quantity of weapons.

Also omitted from the Bank report was the Fiscal Year 1985 Seeds Project. This project involved the construction of a seed-producing plant that later distributed the seeds to Laogai camps in the region. These seeds were planted by prisoners, as witnessed at the Tanan Laogai Detatchment by Harry Wu.

Eight World Bank projects have been undertaken in this western province. Of these, three have been implemented by the XPCC. The projects include the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project, the Xinjiang Agricultural Development Project, and the Seeds Project. All three have been initiated at "state farms".

The Laogai Research Foundation repeats its call for an independent investigation into the activities of the XPCC. It is unacceptable that a military branch of the Chinese government receives funding from the World Bank. The Bank’s indirect support of Laogai camps remains an issue that can only be resolved by an independent investigation.

In October, the World Bank cited a policy that would give it the option of requesting repayment of loan funds if the funds have been used improperly. The Laogai Research Foundation believes that such improper use has occurred. The World Bank can no longer ignore the military it is funding and the prisoners it has exploited. By stopping World Bank funding, we are making a step to truncate the monetary pipeline to China’s Communist machine.

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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