China is accused of exporting products made by prisoners

November 15, 1991|By Robert Benjamin | Robert Benjamin,Beijing Bureau of The Sun

BEIJING -- Chinese enterprises still export prison-made goods to the United States despite continued government denials, an international human rights group alleged yesterday, a day before U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III arrives to attempt to negotiate an end to them.

Asia Watch said in a detailed report that galvanized pipe, diesel engines and tools made in prison labor camps in China's Shandong province are being exhibited or advertised this week at a San Francisco trade fair. The report also said a San Diego firm last month received diesel engines made in a Yunnan provincepenal camp.

Prison-made imports are illegal under U.S. law, and China has offered assurances that it does not knowingly export products from its prison labor camps, known here as "labor reform enterprises."

In a meeting last month in Paris with Mr. Baker, Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen also reportedly agreed to begin talks on a formal memorandum of understanding regarding prison-made exports.

Given that Chinese "assurances have proven worthless, it is now more important than ever that the U.S. officials insist on access to every labor reform camp which they suspect is producing goods for export to the U.S," Asia Watch said.

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