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Prison Labor Exports from China and Implications for U.S. Policy


Since the Commission’s examination in 2008 of prison labor issues in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), there has been little substantive reduction in the scale and scope of China’s broad network of prison labor facilities. These facilities, led by local officials, continue to produce goods intended for export on a potentially large scale, in violation of U.S.-China agreements on the exports of prison labor goods to the United States. Although U.S. representatives in Beijing have continued to engage with their Chinese counterparts regarding suspected prison manufacturing facilities, the pattern of long delays and minimal cooperation by officials in the PRC Ministry of Prisons persists. Further, it is unclear whether the recent abolition of “reeducation through labor” (RTL) and reported release of up to tens of thousands of prisoners will have a significant impact on the prison labor system and export of prison labor products.

Foreign Affairs,
Forced labor