News / Asia

Detained American Provides Glimpse Into Chinese Forced Labor Practices

Detained American Provides Glimpse Into Chinese Forced Labor Practicesi
X
Yang Chen
April 24, 2014 9:15 PM
An American Fulbright Scholar who was arrested in China for stealing spent eight months in a detention center assembling Christmas lights. In this report by Yang Chen and narrated by VOA's Colin Lovett, the man's story offers a glimpse into forced labor in China.
Yang Chen
An American who was arrested in China for stealing spent eight months assembling Christmas lights in a detention center.

Stuart Foster lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Life there is quiet and comfortable.

It’s hard to imagine that just months ago, he was working six days a week, more than eight hours a day, assembling Christmas lights in the Baiyun Detention Center in Guangzhou, China.

“At about 9:30 or 10 [in the morning], it varied, they would bring in work in big bags, industrial plastics bags," said Foster. "And it would be in the outer cells, the bosses would count and see how much it was, and then call for the inmates on the inside to come get their portions.”

He said the guards told him the lights are exported to the U.S. and other Western countries.

Foster was detained for stealing money from a fellow American teacher at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.  

Foster admitted the theft and returned the money. After eight months in detention, however, he was convicted and sentenced to time served. He was deported from China last December.

Foster said he was forced to work even though China claims to be closing labor camps. “Now when you look at the news, there will be reports, 'well, they are closing the reeducation through labor' or 'they are turning many of these into drug rehabilitation centers.' But where I was, if you don’t work, you were beaten. If you don’t work, they take your food. If you don’t work, you will not have your case heard. It was at every turn physical punishment if you didn’t work. If that’s not forced labor, what is?"  

His defense lawyer, Jade Wei, told VOA via Skype that the labor is part of China's legal process. “According to Chinese criminal law, physical labor is part of the efforts to rehabilitate people. As far as I know in American prisons, inmates have to work, too.”

Foster said businesses who are making millions of dollars, though, are abusing the rights of inmates. He said he also thinks American companies who import these products should be held accountable.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Mandarin service.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Stuart Foster from: Spartanburg USA
May 10, 2014 8:10 PM
All comments are welcome and appreciated! The original VOA story in Chinese gives much more detail about the "crime" and Forced Labor Camp conditions. For more information view the website www.whiteclouddetention.com. Also a National Public Radio (NPR) in-depth segment on this saga will be aired in the near future! Finally my memoirs "White Cloud Detention" will be published and released hopefully in time for Christmas while people enjoy the Christmas lights made by prisoners who are beaten and having food withheld daily so people can celebrate "Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards man!" All the best, Stuart


by: Wangchuk from: NYC
May 05, 2014 5:08 PM
While not all Chinese-made products are built w/ forced labor, many of the Chinese products sold in the USA are built w/ forced labor. Therefore, we should not buy Made in China b/c we are contributing to an illegal system of forced labor. Even those products made outside prisons are built by workers who work/live in abysmal conditions, work 80 hrs per week and get no vacation or sick leave & don't have the right to form independent labor unions. Workers in Communist China have less rights than workers in capitalist nations like USA & Europe.


by: mikee from: UK
April 25, 2014 10:56 AM
what does the thief expect , a sunshine all expenses paid holiday camp? we all have to work in this life to survive

In Response

by: Wangchuk from: NY
May 05, 2014 5:02 PM
You're missing the point of the story. It exposes forced prison labor to make consumer goods made in China & sold in the West. That means many Xmas ornaments, toys & other things we buy that are Made in China are actually made w/ forced labor. Since there is no due process of law or rule of law in China, there is no way to know whether the prisoners are actually guilty or imprisoned for political views or tortured into confessions. Prisoners don't get a choice, they either work or starve or are beaten. Even prisoners have rights under int'l law. If you were illegally detained in China or in the UK, I think you would want your rights protected.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid