LAOGAI: The Machinery of Repression in China

LAOGAI: The Machinery of Repression in China was released September 20, 2009 by Umbrage Editions to coincide with the 60th Anniversary of Communist rule in China. You can see a slide show on the book, here.

An eloquent and vivid summary in shocking, never-before-seen photographs smuggled out of the People Republic of China, LAOGAI exposes the human rights record of the world’s most authoritarian state—a nation whose own remarkable transformation has not extended to the basic demands of its people’s freedom.

From the coal mines of Sichuan to the high tech factories of Guangdong, and from the tea farms of Zhejiang to the textile factories of Hubei, the vast spiderweb of the Chinese prison system has its tentacles into every corner of the country, with about five million slave laborers working to make the economic miracle happen. With essays from leading Chinese scholar Andrew Nathan and leading dissident Harry Wu, this book discusses the wide range of challenges China faces: to freedom of expression and religious choice, as well as controversial issues like torture, the death penalty, organ trafficking, forced sterilization, and more.

This carefully researched and crafted book is filled with tales of heroism, heartbreak, and triumph, as dozens of former prisoners of the Laogai share their individual stories and reveal the pain and dirt that underlies China’s shiny modern surface.

Moving and disturbing, Laogai gives lie to the notion that China is headed to democratization, and urges that on the occasion of its sixtieth anniversary, we look at the People’s Republic with a chilling knowledge that despite its advances, the apparatus of control and oppression in the last great Communist party remain unchanged.

The text includes a comprehensive history of human rights, timeline, reading list, and resource information.

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One response to “LAOGAI: The Machinery of Repression in China

  1. Hi Ben – Thanks for promoting our new book. If you or your readers are interested in reading more about the Laogai – China’s gulag – you can visit our website at, where there’s a blog, video, and many more photos. We’re on a mission to make the Laogai as widely known and reviled as the Soviet gulag or Nazi concentration camps. Thanks! Nicole Kempton, editor, Laogai: The Machinery of Repression in China.

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