Laogai (zh-cp|c=|p=láo gǎi), the abbreviation for Láodòng Gǎizào (勞動改造), which means "reform through labor," is a slogan of the Chinese criminal justice system and has been used to refer to the use of prison labor in the People's Republic of China. It is often confused with, but completely different from, reeducation through labor, which is a system of administrative detentions. It is estimated that in the last 50 years more than 50 million people were sent to the prison camp. [ [ Inside the Lao Gai] ]


During the 1960s, Chinese prisons contained large numbers of people who were considered to be too critical of the government or "counter-revolutionary". Prisons were organized like factories. However, many people arrested for political or religious reasons were released in the late 1970s at the start of the Deng Xiaoping reforms.

China's 1997 revised Criminal Procedure Law brought an end to official laogai policy, but some prisons in the Tibetan Autonomous Republic and in Qinghai Province still practice forced labor and amount to a continuation of laogai. [cite web|url=|title=Chinese Political Prisons|accessdate=2008-08-20]

There are accusations that Chinese prisons produce products that are often sold in foreign countries, with the profits going to the PRC government [] . Products include everything from green tea to industrial engines to coal dug from mines. [cite web|url=|title=China's 'Reforming' work programme|accessdate=2008-08-20] However, these products make up an insignificant amount of mainland China's export output, and it has been argued that the use of prison labor for manufacturing is not itself a violation of human rights and that most prisoners in Chinese prisons are there for what are generally regarded as crimes in the West. Western outrage at the perceived violation of human rights centers on the claims of detainees being held for political or religious violations, such as leadership of unregistered Chinese House Churches. [cite web|url=|title=The Great Separation: House Church Pastor Expects Death in Chinese Prison|accessdate=2008-08-20]

The downfall of socialism has reduced revenue to local governments, increasing pressure for local governments to attempt to supplement their income using prison labor. At the same time, prisoners do not make a good workforce, and the products produced by prison labor in China are of extremely low quality and have become unsalable on the open market in competition with products made by ordinary paid labor. [cite web|url=|title=Philip P. Pan, China's Laborers Pay Price for Market Reforms|accessdate=2008-08-20]

An insider's view from the 1950s to the 1990s is detailed in the books of Harry Wu, including "Troublemaker" and "Laogai". He spent 19 years from 1960 to 1979 as a prisoner in these camps for criticizing the government while he was a young student in college. [cite web|url=|title=Exposing Laogai: Harry Wu Speaks At AIM Luncheon|accessdate=2008-08-20] He almost starved to death, but eventually escaped to the United States.

Other Information

*In 2003, the word "laogai" entered the Oxford English Dictionary.
*The cartoon "," which includes parallels to Chinese human rights violations, includes a secret brainwashing facility called Lake Laogai.


See also

*Penal colony
*Human rights in the People's Republic of China
*Reeducation camp

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Laogai — (chinesisch 勞改 / 劳改 láo găi, Abkürzung von 勞動改造 / 劳动改造 láo dòng gǎi zào ‚Reform durch Arbeit‘) ist ein System von Arbeitslagern in der Volksrepublik China. Die Laogais sind Arbeitslager, in welchen von Gerichten …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • laogai — ● laogai nom masculin (chinois lao, travail, et gai, redressement) Système concentrationnaire de la République populaire de Chine …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Laogai — Carte des Laogai en Chine Un laogai (chinois simplifié : 劳改 ; pinyin : láogăi ; abréviation de 劳动改造 láodòng gǎizào, « rééducation par le travail ») est un camp de rééducation par le travail en République populaire de …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Laogai — Para otros usos de este término, véase Lago Laogai. Situación de los laogais. Laogai (Chino: 勞改; pinyin: láo găi), la abreviatura de Laodong Gaizao (勞動改造) que significa reforma por el trabajo (traducido habitualmente como reeducación por el… …   Wikipedia Español

  • laogai — noun The use of prison labor and prison farms in the Peoples Republic of China. The 6 10 Office also created fake refugees young, trained to mimic Falun Gong behavior, and holding paperwork confirming time spent in laogai, China’s penal system …   Wiktionary

  • Laogai — La|o|gai [auch: la̮u… ], das; s, [s] [chines. laogai, zusgez. aus: laodong gaizao = Reform durch Arbeit]: Arbeitslager in China, in dem vor allem politische Dissidenten festgehalten werden …   Universal-Lexikon

  • laogai — [laʊ gʌɪ] noun (the laogai) (in China) a system of labour camps, many of whose inmates are political dissidents. Origin Chin., reform through labour …   English new terms dictionary

  • laogai — /low guy /, n. the system of forced labor camps, prisons, etc., in China. [1990 95; < Chin: lit., reform through labor] * * * …   Universalium

  • laogai — lao•gai [[t]ˈlaʊˈgaɪ[/t]] n. fot gov the system of forced labor camps, prisons, etc., in China • Etymology: 1990–95; < Chin: lit., reform through labor …   From formal English to slang