Red Chinese Slave Labor Floods NAFTA Marketplace With Cheap Goods

The NAFTA marketplace unrestrained in the pursuit of cheap labor has driven an increasing volume of manufacturing off-shore to Communist China, where slave prison camps offer a cost of labor that is hard to beat.  

Chinese made goods ranging from electronics to toys and clothes are daily sold in mass marketing retailers such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, K-Mart, Target, Lowes, and dozens of other U.S. corporations.  Cheap goods from Communist China increasingly line the shelves of the NAFTA marketplace under marquee product trade names that bear no relationship to the Chinese slave labor that manufactured, produced, or otherwise assembled the goods.  

Key to this thriving under-market is a flagrant disregard for human rights, on the part of the Communist Chinese, who still permit the exploitation of slave labor. U.S. capitalists and consumers as well turn a blind eye to the human suffering and abuse involved in producing the under-market cheap goods flooding the American retail market from China.

The Chinese slave labor camps set up first under Mao in the 1950s are known as Laogai.  Writing for the Human Rights Brief at American University’s Washington College of Law, Ramin Pejan explains that the Laogai system consists of three distinct types of reform: convict labor (Laogai), re-education through labor (Laojiao), and forced job placement (Jiuye).  The political nature of these Chinese prison labor camps is clear.

The PRC (People’s Republic of China) uses Laojiao to detain individuals it feels are a threat to national security or it considers unproductive.  Individuals in Laojiao may be detained for up to three years.  Because those in Laojiao have not committed crimes under PRC law, they are referred to as “personnel” rather than prisoners and they are not entitled to judicial procedure.  Instead, individuals are sent to the Laojiao following administrative sentences dispensed by local public security forces.  This vague detainment policy allows the PRC to avoid allegations that the individual’s arrest was politically motivated and to assert that they were arrested for reasons such as “not engaging in honest pursuits” or “being able-bodied but refusing to work.”

Pejan notes that even though they have completed their sentence some 70 percent of the prisoners are forced to live in specifically assigned locations where they continue to work in the prison camp.  In a cruel slogan that brings to mind the “Arbeit Mach Frei” entrance to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, Penan notes that Laogai is an abbreviation for Laodong Gaizao which translates from Mandarin as “reform through labor.”  

Despite U.S. government efforts to keep Chinese slave labor goods from entering the U.S. market, the Laogai Research Foundation maintains that China represses open investigation of forced labor camps and the practice continues:

Due to strong resistance from Western nations against forced labor products, in 1991 China’s State Council re-emphasized the ban on the export of “forced labor products” and stipulated that no prison is allowed to cooperate or establish joint ventures with foreign investors.  However, the State Council’s move was merely a superficial one, and prisoners today still produce forced labor products in great numbers.  The Chinese government grants special privileges to enterprises using labor camps and prisons, to encourage and attract foreign investment and export.  Prisoners are forced to manufacture products without any payment, and are often forced to work more than 10 hours a day and sometimes even overnight.  Those who cannot fulfill their tasks are beaten and tortured.  The forced labor products these prisoners produce are exported throughout China and the world.

The Laogai Research Center “believes that as long as the Chinese Communist Party’s dictatorship exists, the Lagoai will continue to serve as its essential mechanism for suppression and prosecution.”  The Laogai Research Foundation documents more than 1,000 Chinese slave-labor prison camps still operating today, with a prison population estimated at several millions.  

A U.S.-China Security Review Commission Policy Paper on Prison Labor and Forced Labor in China concluded that the U.S. Customs Service “cannot conduct independent investigations in China” to determine if goods imported into the U.S. were made in Chinese forced labor camps.  Despite numerous treaties, memoranda of understanding, and laws, the Commission concluded that China simply refuses to supply the information needed to make factual determinations:

… we understand that since 1996 the Customs Service has sent thirty letters to the Chinese Ministry of Justice regarding either visits or investigations of prison facilities in China that were suspected of producing goods for export to the United States.  In most cases, the Chinese Ministry of Justice failed to respond to such letters.

The Customs Service has told the Commission that the difficulty in enforcing Section 307 to block the importation of goods made by prison labor in China does not arise from the U.S. statues.  The difficulty arises because the PRC is not abiding by the 1992 and 1994 agreements it negotiated with the U.S. government.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China published in its 2005 annual report a conclusion that: “Forced labor is an integral part of the Chinese administrative detention system, and child labor remains a significant problem in China, despite being prohibited by law.”

Just above the slave labor camps is a vast Chinese under-market where millions of Chinese work for meager wages under constantly abusive work conditions.  Today China makes approximately 75 percent of the world’s toys. As noted by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), U.S. companies such as Disney, Mattel (maker of the Barbie doll), Hasbro, McDonald’s (Happy Meal toys), and Warner Brothers utilize factories in China to produce toys for virtually all major U.S. retailers, including Toys-R-Us, Wal-Mart, and Target, as well as for direct marketing.  Still, the AHRC documents that working conditions in the Chinese toy manufacturing industry are abysmal, just one notch above 21st century slave trade standards. Consider this AHRC description of a Chinese toy worker’s story:

  • Average age of a worker in a typical Chinese toy factory: between 12- and 15-years-old.
  • Typical wage of workers in Asian toy factories: from as little as 6 cents an hour up to 40 cents an hour (in U.S. dollar terms).
  • Typical number of hours worked in a day during busy periods: up to 19.
  • Typical number of days worked per week: 6.
  • Young workers work all day in 104-degree temperature, handling toxic glues, paints, and solvents.
  • Workers weakened by illness and pregnant workers, who are supposed to have legal protection, are forced to quit.
  • The typical profile of workers in these factories involves single young women migrants from rural areas to the cities in search of jobs.

With more than 1 billion Chinese vying for an economic existence, the Chinese under-market thrives in a competitive environment of labor over-supply.  One mistake, even in an abusive labor environment, can exclude a Chinese uneducated and unskilled worker from future employment, especially when thousands wait in line for the job.

Increasingly well documented is the continuing Communist Chinese persecution of Falun Gong cult practitioners. A July 2006 report released by Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas and former Canadian MP member David Kilgour has alleged continuing Communist Chinese organ harvesting achieved by murdering imprisoned Fulong Gong practitioners.  The report’s conclusions were clear:

We believe that there has been and continues today to be large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners.

We have concluded that the government of China and its agencies in numerous parts of the country, in particular hospitals but also detention centres and “people’s courts,” since 1999 have put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.  Their vital organs, including hearts, kidneys, livers and corneas, were virtually simultaneously seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries.

We have previously argued that the projections of increased containers with cheap Chinese under-market goods headed for U.S. mass marketing retailers is the demand driving the construction of NAFTA super-highways and the opening up of Mexican ports as an alternative to west coast ports including Los Angeles and Long Beach.  Reform the labor market in China or enforce traditional “anti-dumping” international trade restrictions against the entry of under-market goods and the need for NAFTA super-highways four football-fields wide open to Mexican ports operated by the Communist Chinese is largely gone.

As of yet, the black market in organ purchases has remained largely underground, hidden from public view.  Today the American people remain largely unknowledgeable and/or uncaring over the massive human rights abuses in the Chinese labor under-market including slave forced prison labor, all for lower priced toys, sneakers, T-shirts, and electronics.  Do we really think there will remain a bright moral line between using Chinese slave labor—a form of slow death for the under-market workers so abused—and outright murder of political prisoners that is required to promote an international market in human organs for the international elite with ample ready cash in hand?

Unbridled capitalism can be counted on to press for erasing national boundaries that are perceived by free trade enthusiasts as speed bumps on their way to unlimited profits.  How different today are the photographs Michael Wolf has taken of under-market labor in China from the photographs of Lewis W. Hine and Jacob Riis, who documented the human exploitation we tolerated in this country prior to the rise of the U.S. labor movement?

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  • Rider I

    The racist Communist Chinese fund terrorism and genocide in the world to gain cheap resources to centralize the worlds resources to their 97% monopoly
    Communist Chinese use Proxy agents then invade via SOE free trade zones after the economy is weakened by the fighting of proxy agentsHow the Communist Chinese Party and their espionage unit fund terrorist and genocidal dictators that oppress world women’s rights. Over four years ago, America suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history, caused by a terrorist group largely known as al Qaeda. About a month after the attack, it was first reported that Communist China bought unexploded American cruise missiles from al Qaeda in order to “reverse engineer” them, i.e., use them to advance its own cruise missile capabilities. That report was just confirmed on Nov. 29. The subsequent silence from mainstream media has been deafening. What gives here? For over four years, as the democratic world has fought the War on Terror, Communist China has managed to stay out of sight and out of mind, despite the information above and immediately below. Even the pro-democracy, anti-Communist movement has largely been quiet on this. This remains a terrible and dangerous mistake. For those new to this topic, what follows is a quick synopsis of Communist China’s actions regarding al Qaeda and the Taliban. 1998: After the American cruise missile attack on al Qaeda, Communist China pays up to $10 million to al Qaeda for unexploded American cruise missiles. 1999: A book by two Communist Chinese colonels presents a battle scenario in which the World Trade Center is attacked. The authors recommend Osama bin Laden by name as someone with the ability to orchestrate the attack. September 11, 2001 (yes, that date is correct): Communist China signs a pact on economic cooperation with the Taliban. Just after September 11, 2001: The Communist press agency makes a video “glorifying the strikes as a humbling blow against an arrogant nation.” Also after September 11, 2001: According to Willy Lam (CNN), the Communist leadership considers al Qaeda to be “a check on U.S. power,” and only decides to back away from it after deciding that “now is not the time to take on the United States.” Also after September 11, 2001: As Pakistan mulls a request from the United States to allow its troops to be based there for operations against the Taliban, Communist China—a 50-year Pakistan ally—announces it would “oppose allowing foreign troops in Pakistan.” Also after September 11, 2001: U.S. intelligence finds the Communist Chinese military’s favorite technology firm—Huawei Technologies—building a telephone network in Kabul, the Afghan capital. November 2001: As U.S. Special Forces and local anti-Taliban Afghans are liberating Afghanistan, Communist China, through public statements and behind-the-scenes actions, tries to prevent what it calls “a pro-American regime” in Kabul. 2002: Raids of al Qaeda hideouts by U.S. Special Forces and allies net large caches of weapons from Communist China, including surface-to-air missiles. This comes weeks after the U.S. government warns that al Qaeda terrorists in the U.S. would try to use said missiles to take down American planes. April 2002: Then-Communist Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, while visiting Iran, rips the U.S. military presence in Central Asia. Late summer 2002: Almost a year after Afghanistan’s liberation, a three-man delegation from the Taliban—led by Ustad Khalil, purported to be Mullah Omar’s right-hand man—spends a week in Communist China meeting with cadres, at their invitation. August 2002: Intelligence from the post-Taliban Afghan government reveals that Communist China has turned a part of Pakistan deemed under its control (most likely “Aksai Chin,” the piece of disputed Kashmir that Pakistan gave to its longtime ally in the 1960s) into a safe haven for al Qaeda. May 2004: Media reports expose how the Communist Chinese intelligence service used some of its front companies in financial markets around the world to help al Qaeda raise and launder money for its operations. Yet Communist China continues to claim that it is our friend in the War on Terror, and foolish supporters of “engagement” continue to believe it. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s not merely al Qaeda that has received Communist support (for more on Communist China’s extensive ties to terrorists, check out my book on the subject), but given the nearly universal acceptance of al Qaeda as an enemy of the democratic world, one would think that the above information would be enough for a serious and thorough reexamination of our relations with the Communists. After all, Communist China’s reasons for supporting anti-American terrorists are not difficult to ascertain. The U.S. is the main obstacle to the Communists’ plans for conquering Taiwan, replacing Japan as the lead power in Asia, and replacing the U.S. as the lead world power. If Communist China fails in any of these, its reliance on radical nationalism—the regime’s raison d’etre since the Tiananmen Square massacre—will backfire badly. Thus, the Chinese Communist Party sees the United States as the chief threat to its power, and its survival. Yet President Bush has not once demanded that Communist China end its support for al Qaeda—indeed, he has not even acknowledged the existence of that support. Sadly, he is not alone. In fact, those of us who insist on spreading the word about this are in the distinct minority. If we are to win the War on Terror, this must change. The War on Terror is, in fact, part of the Second Cold War—the cold war between Communist China and the democratic world. As such, the War on Terror can not and will not be won unless the free world sees the Chinese Communist Party for what it really is: an enemy. The road to victory in the War on Terror ends not in Kabul, Baghdad, Tehran, or Damascus, but in Beijing. America and her allies will never be secure until China is free. D.J. McGuire is President and Co-Founder of the China e-Lobby, and the author of Dragon in the Dark: How and Why Communist China Helps Our Enemies in the War on Terror. Rider I