China: We're Reforming Forced Labor Camps
Controversial program was said to be used against political activists
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2013 2:42 PM CST
China's newly appointed leader Xi Jinping gestures as he attends a meeting with foreign experts at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/ Ed Jones, Pool)

(Newser) – China's first step toward the reform promised by new leader Xi Jinping: The country will reform its forced labor camp system, state media reported today. The long-standing, controversial "re-education through labor system" allows police to jail petty criminals for up to four years without going through the court system, and critics say it is unfairly used against dissidents. Media initially reported that the system would be entirely abolished, but those reports were taken offline and replaced with the reform announcement.

"The Chinese government will this year push the reform of its controversial re-education through labor system, according to a national political and legal work conference on Monday," Xinhua reported, according to Reuters. The system has been in place since 1957 and includes 350 camps that house around 160,000 inmates. Human rights activists and experts hailed the upcoming reform, but one warns that the reforms could be light, maintaining the same system with "a somewhat milder form of administrative detention."

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
China: We're Reforming Forced Labor Camps is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 22 comments
Jan 8, 2013 2:34 PM CST
I initially read that China was going to abolish the forced labor camps, less than 1 hour later, this was changed to 'Reform', oh well, guess they will do something, but not much by western standards. Agree with those that post that USA has greatest number of incarcerated persons in entire World, speaks volumes about American justice? Or volumes about Americans adhering to the Laws of the Country?
Jan 8, 2013 11:43 AM CST
reform: the whole country will turn into one single forced labor camp. all infractions will be punished by death without trial.
Jan 8, 2013 4:02 AM CST
Let the 'games' begin. I don't mean the Olympics...the CCP won that round already, with their promises for greater press freedom and human rights. This will be much the same. A promise is made which appeases those who wish to see progress in China...the reality will be business as usual unfortunately. Those monitoring the situation will see the difference which is presented to them by their government appointed minders.