[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 143 (Wednesday, October 5, 1994)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

[Congressional Record: October 5, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



                           HON. FRANK R. WOLF

                              of virginia

                    in the house of representatives

                       Wednesday, October 5, 1994

  Mr. WOLF. Mr. Speaker, I am submitting for the Record an appeal by 
Chen Pokong, a prisoner in China, to the international community 
concerning goods made with slave labor in Chinese prison camps.

          [From the Laogai Research Foundation, Milpitas, CA]

                          Bloodstained Flowers

                  (By Chen Pokong, Political Prisoner)

               A Courageous Appeal From a Chinese Prison

       ``I am thrown into this hell because the Guangdong 
     authorities want to crush me spiritually and physically. This 
     is political retaliation and persecution.
       Being in this critical situation, I have no choice but to 
     appeal to you. I strongly urge progressive forces the world 
     over to pay attention to human rights conditions in China, 
     and to extend their assistance to the Chinese people who are 
     in an abyss of misery. I strongly appeal to international 
     progressive organizations to urge the Guangdong authorities 
     to cease persecuting me politically.
       I understand that once my letter is published, I might be 
     persecuted even more harshly. I might even be killed. But I 
     have no choice!''

         artificial flowers made by chinese political prisoners

       A Chinese political prisoner, Chen Pokong, in a document 
     smuggled out of a re-education-through-labor (Laojiao) camp 
     in southern China has provided evidence that artificial 
     flowers made by prisoners are being exported to the United 
     States. His appeal is being released following a four month 
     investigation which included photographing the prison where 
     Chen is being held.
       This is the first time a known dissident and political 
     prisoner has communicated with the outside world about forced 
     labor products being exported to the United States.
       Chen, 30 years old, is a teacher and pro-democracy 
     activist, who had previously served a three year prison term 
     for his activities in Guangzhou during the 1989 pro-democracy 
     movement, attached to his letter original labels the 
     prisoners put on flowers. The three labels (See Appendix II) 
     are for ``Silky Touch'' flowers distributed by Ben Franklin 
     Stores, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois; ``Lady Bug Collection'' 
     flowers for Universal Sun Ray of Springfield, Missouri; and 
     another ``Universal Sun Ray-U.S. Flowers'' label.
       The Laogai Research Foundation purchased flowers with these 
     labels on them at Ben Franklin Stores in Pleasanton, 
     California and Reno, Nevada. (See Appendix I)
       A Universal Sun Ray employee, visited by a Foundation 
     representative at the company's showroom in Springfield, 
     confirmed that the company supplies Ben Franklin, Inc. with 
     its artificial flowers. Other large customers include 
     Cotters, Inc., the parent of True Value Hardware stores; and 
     the Rag Shops, a New Jersey based craft store chain. The 
     employee also advised us that Universial Sun Ray provided 
     Memorial Day flowers for sale at Wal-Mart stores in 1994. The 
     Foundation has no evidence that any of the customers, or 
     Universal Sun Ray itself, is aware that Chinese prisoners are 
     involved in producing the flowers they sell.
       It is illegal under U.S. law to import into the United 
     States any product made in whole or in part by convict for 
     forced labor.

                    chen pokong--political prisoner

       Chen Pokong, also known as Chen Jingsong, was a young 
     teacher in the economics department of Zhongshan University, 
     when he became involved in the pro-democracy movement which 
     swept China in 1989.
       Chen was sentenced to a three year term for his 
     ``counterrevolutionary instigation'' according to a copy of a 
     Guangdong People's Court ruling on his appeal of his sentence 
     which has been obtained by the Laogai Research Foundation. 
     (See Appendix V)
       This document provides considerable detail on his arrest 
     and the charges against him. Chen was first arrested on 
     August 2, 1989 although the Chinese say ``detained for 
     investigation.'' Seven months later, on February 21, 1990 he 
     was formally ``arrested'' and sentenced to three years 
     imprisonment on March 1, 1991 by the Guangdong People's 
     Municipality Intermediate Court.
       Among Chen's ``crimes'' were charges he ``instigated'' the 
     following statements as wall posters on the Zhongshan 
     University campus: ``Due to mishandling of the student 
     movement, the Party has lost all its credibility and prestige 
     as a ruling party * * *. Upon repeated consideration we have 
     decided to declare earnestly that we are withdrawing from the 
     Communist Party and the Communist Youth League * * *. The 
     bloody violence began in front of the monument of the 
     people's heroes the reactionary power has been revealed in 
     its viciousness * * * undeniable proof of the communist 
     power's bloody despotism * * * such a ruling party is hated 
     by people the world over and is a shame for the Chinese 
       According to Chen, he completed his sentence and was 
     released in July, 1992. He then resumed his political 
     activities and which were ``disseminating the ideas of 
     democracy, creating progressive publications and 
     disseminating them.'' Fearing arrest, he fled to Hong Kong in 
     early August, 1993.

                   hong kong denies political asylum

       After meeting with human rights activists in Hong Kong, 
     Chen, following established procedures, turned himself in to 
     the Hong Kong authorities and applied for political asylum.
       Despite having considerable documentation about his 
     previous arrest, imprisonment, and political activities, 
     Chen's application was denied and he was deported to China on 
     September 1, 1993 where he was immediately taken into 
       Original documents obtained by the Laogai Research 
     Foundation confirm his detention (See Appendix VI), and 
     Chen's smuggled letter states that two months later he was 
     sentenced by the Public Security Bureau to two years at the 
     Guangzhou No. 1 Reeducation-Through-Labor camp.

                       chen's appeal to the world

       Chen is an inmate at the Guangzhou No. 1 Reeducation-
     Through-Labor camp, a stone quarry in Chini Town, Huaxian 
     County. At the time his letter was smuggled out of the prison 
     he was in Company 9. Today he is believed to be in Company 6.
       His appeal, addressed to the United Nations International 
     Human Rights Organization (sic), the Voice of America, and 
     Asian Watch (sic), was passed on later to the Laogai Research 
     Foundation (See Appendix III), which possesses the original 
       He writes:
       ``I am thrown into this hell because the Guangdong 
     authorities want to crush me spiritually and physically. This 
     is political retaliation and persecution.
       ``Being in this critical situation, I have no choice but to 
     appeal to you. I strongly urge progressive forces the world 
     over to pay close attention to human rights conditions in 
     China, and to extend their assistance to the Chinese people 
     who are in an abyss of misery. I strongly appeal to 
     international progressive organizations to urge the Guangdong 
     authorities to cease persecuting me politically.
       ``I understand that once my letter is published, I might be 
     persecuted even more harshly. I might even be killed. But I 
     have no choice!''

                   terror, privation, and slave labor

       Chen testifies that the inmates of the camp labor ``over 14 
     hours a day'' moving stones from the quarry to the wharf and 
     then onto a boat. After working all day they are forced to 
     make artificial flowers at night.
       The only time off during the year is three days during the 
     annual Spring Festival. If prisoners do not meet their 
     production quotas they have their sentences lengthened.
       He tells of prisoners who worked too slowly being 
     ``brutally beating and misused (sic) by supervisors and team 
     leaders (themselves inmates.)'' ``Inmates'' he writes, ``are 
     often beaten until they are bloodstained all over, collapse 
     or lose consciousness.''
       ``Several times I was beaten by the team leader,'' he says 
     in his appeal, adding, ``I am constantly exposed to terror.''
       Other prisoners told him that before he arrived one inmate 
     had been beaten to death.
       Privation in the camp is real. The food allotment is 
     insufficient. ``Every meal consists of coarse rice and rotten 
     vegetable leaves. Hardly can we see any grease. We have a 
     little meat only on major holidays.''
       Medical treatment appears to be non-existent. Chen tells of 
     injured and sick prisoners being forced to labor despite 
     their infirmities. ``many inmates, including myself, their 
     hands and feet squashed by big stones, stained with blood and 
     pus, have to labor as usual. As a consequence, many inmates 
     were crippled for life.''


       On a separate sheet of paper Chen placed the three labels 
     mentioned in the beginning of this report (See Appendix II).
       The following is Chen's text on artificial flowers:
       ``The artificial flowers we make are for export. The 
     trademarks are in English, the prices in USD. Even the 
     company commander and the quarry director said the flowers 
     are made in cooperation with a Hong Kong company that exports 
     them. This is in serious violence (sic) of international 
     human rights norms, international law, even the Chinese 
     government's law.
       As a matter of fact, in the recent decade and more all 
     products turned out by labor reform and reeducation-through-
     labor and detention facilities in Guangdong Province are 
     almost exclusively for export (usually in cooperation with 
     Hong Kong and Taiwan companies). For instance, Huanghua 
     Detention Center in Guangzhou, at least in 1989 when I was 
     there and experienced everything myself, has been forcing 
     detainees to make artificial flowers, necklaces, jewelry 
     (trademarks in English, prices in USD) This can be testified 
     to by anybody who was there, including Hong Kongers.''
       Two of the three labels are for Universal Sun Ray of 
     Springfield, Missouri. According to conversations with a 
     company employee, Universal Sun Ray also imports flowers for 
     Ben Franklin Stores, Inc., the name of the third label 
     attached on the flowers by prisoners in the camp.
       On July 8, and August 28, 1994 the Laogai Research 
     Foundation purchased flowers with these three labels on them 
     at two Ben Franklin stores in Pleasanton, CA and Reno, NV 
     (See Appendix I).
       Shipping records show Universal Sun Ray regularly receives 
     substantial shipments of artificial flowers from Hong Kong 
     and China. The company's showroom in Springfield has dozens 
     of different types of flowers on display, all those from Asia 
     are marked ``Made in China.'' It is believed the shipments 
     indicating Hong Kong as the port of origin are in reality 
     produced in China and transported to Hong Kong by truck and 
     loaded aboard ships destined for the United States.
       Universal Sun Ray receives imports from a number of Hong 
     Kong based companies, but one company appears to ship much 
     more than the others. The names of these companies will be 
     provided to the U.S. Customs Service for investigation.
       The Foundation has received no evidence that any officer or 
     employee of Universal Sun Ray has knowledge that some 
     quantity of the flowers being manufactured for them are being 
     made in part at the Guangzhou No. 1 Reeducation-Through-Labor 
     camp by Chen Pokong and other prisoners. It is known, though, 
     that at least one official of the company travels regularly 
     to the region on Universal Sun Ray business.
       Chen Pokong states that the prisoners ``make'' the flowers, 
     but does not describe in detail the production process Given 
     that the prisoners work in the quarry and transport stones 
     during the day, the Laogai Research Foundation is presuming 
     that the prisoners are used to assemble the flowers at night. 
     This would entail connecting the polyester/silk flowers to 
     the plastic stems and folding the self adhesive labels around 
     the stem.
       Production of the polyester/silk flower itself requires 
     cutting machinery and workers with some dexterity. The heavy 
     work with stones during the day is not, in our view, 
     conducive to manual dexterity at night. Assembly, on the 
     other hand, is much less difficult, although painful for the 
     prisoners at the end of a harsh day of quarry labor.
       This analysis would also support the likelihood that the 
     assembly in the prison is being subcontracted by another 
     facility, perhaps a legitimate artificial flower factory in 
     the area.
       While Chen's evidence is the first of a political prisoner 
     being forced to labor producing artificial flowers for export 
     to the U.S., it is not the first report of such flowers being 
     made in the prisons and detention centers in Guangdong 
     Province. In 1990, Lai Dexiong, a police officer in Shenzhen, 
     escaped to Hong Kong after learning he was about to be 
     arrested for helping student leaders active during the 
     Tiananmen Square demonstrations escape the country. Lai told 
     of seeing prisoners in 1987 in a number of detention centers 
     and prisons making artificial flowers for export to England 
     for Queen Elizabeth's birthday celebration. At that time, his 
     testimony was not taken seriously.

                    reeducation-through-Labor (RTL)

       The Chinese government does not consider Reduction-Through-
     Labor (Laojiao) to be judicial punishment, but rather, ``high 
     level government disciplinary action.'' This means that 
     prisoners do not technically go through judicial procedures 
     such as arrest, examination, or sentencing, and therefore 
     local public security bureaus (police) do not have to submit 
     reports to the courts or the Office of the Procuratorate.
       But, arrest, detention, sentencing, and forced labor are 
     part of the process, and the man or woman subject to 
     reeducation through labor is still an inmate in a prison, 
     even if the Chinese governmental and communist party choose 
     not to call them prisons.
       Chen makes this point clearly in his letter:
       ``Reeducation-through-labor is the darkest part of China's 
     current political system. Ironically, RTL policy and 
     regulations worked out by the Chinese government itself have 
     been altered beyond recognition in their practical 
     implementation. According to RTL policy and regulations RTL 
     is lighter than LR (Labor Reform): inmates get this pay, have 
     their benefits and holiday, enjoy the right of 
     correspondence, cultural, recreational and sports activities, 
     do not labor more than 8 hours daily, can visit their 
     families on holidays, can be bailed out for medical 
     treatment, etc. In reality RTL is hell.''
       His description of terror, privation and forced labor 
     testified to the practice of reeducation-through-labor rather 
     than its supposed theory.