Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A30-W6
Release Date: October 1, 2003
Topic: Wei Jingsheng calling for abolishing Education-through-Labor System in China on VOA
Wei Jingsheng calling for abolishing the Education-Through-Labor System in China on Voice of America (VOA)'s TV Show - "Current Affairs"
The VOA's TV show on September 15, 2003, dealt in particular with the Education-Through-Labor (i.e. Lao-Jiao, or LaoDong-JiaoYang) system that has been used in China for the last fifty years. The TV guests were renowned Chinese dissidents Wei Jingsheng and Liu Xiaobo. Li Xiaobo spent three years in an Education-Through-Labor camp. He was expected to participate in the show via telephone from Beijing. However, he was not able to participate at the last minute due to (predictable) "technical problems".
While VOA's radio program has a larger Chinese audience, VOA's one hour a day TV program is getting very popular with Chinese satellite TV viewers. According to survey, about 3% of Chinese own satellite TV receivers, mostly "illegally" as far as the Chinese government is concerned.
The anchor of the program, Mr. Wei Ke asked Mr. Wei Jingsheng what the Education-Through-Labor system is meant to accomplish, and what kind of people become the victims of the system. Mr. Wei Jingsheng answered that the system is a tool for the Communist party. The party found that law was an obstacle to enforcing its will, so it came up with the Education Through-Labor camps to circumvent this problem. This way, the Communists can do whatever they like without a need for going through the law, and be able to form a tight system through every layer and every corner of the country. There is no need for judges and courts or checks and balances. The Labor Education camps are used primarily for dealing with political dissidents, and other people they are not sure how to deal with. He said that sending someone to a camp does not require a judge or a court of law. All it takes is the recommendation of a person's work unit and the enforcement of the Public Security Bureau. Chinese citizens have no protection whatsoever against being taken. The administrative officials have all the power over their people. So, if one has offended his/her bosses, then one might encounter such a fate outside the law.
Mr. Wei Jingsheng said that being sent to one of these camps is the same as being sentenced to punishment for a crime. Some officials who are guilty of crimes are also sent to these camps. Mr. Wei Jingsheng suggested that this system goes hand-in-hand with the old economic system in which people's lives were ruled by their work units. At that time, sending someone to an Education-Through-Labor camp was a way of getting rid of a "troublesome" employee who could not be dealt with in any other way.
Wei Jingsheng said, in some sense, Education-Through-Labor is worse than Reform-Through-Labor (i.e. LaoGai or LaoDong-GaiZhao), because the Reform-Through-Labor more or less needs to go through so-called legal procedures. Wei Jingsheng urged the need to totally abolish the Education-Through-Labor system.
The following includes summaries of selected calls from the viewers and Mr. Wei Jingsheng's answers to their questions:
Mr. Yu from Hunan said that the Education-Through-Labor system is something that people learn to be afraid of when they are children. He said that eliminating this system, however, would not eliminate the inequality of the Chinese legal system. He wants to know how to reform the legal system in such a way as to eliminate that inequality.
Mr. Wei Jingsheng responded by saying that eliminating the Education-Through-Labor system is a big step towards eliminating legal inequality. However, the system still needs to be reformed in such a way that political rights cannot be monopolized and the court system is independent.
Mr. Huang from Zhejiang was thrilled to see Wei Jingsheng on this talk show. He praised Wei Jingsheng as a true hero that everyone knows. He asked if other Communist countries also have Education-Through-Labor systems.
Mr. Wei Jingsheng said that there are major differences between Chinese labor camps and those of other countries. He said that he had this discussion with many former dissidents and political prisoners of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, such as President Havel of the Czech Republic. He referred to conversations with Mr. Bukovsky, the well-known dissident and a victim of the former Soviet Union, about the comparison of the Soviet Gulag and the Chinese Education-Through-Labor and Reform-Through-Labor camps. The description of the Chinese system even made Mr. Bukovsky shake his head. The Chinese camps are indeed unique with "the Chinese character" including brain washing, and the successful suppression of "anti-revolutionary" effort. The system aims at controlling one's mind as well as one's body. He said that Taiwan also had a similar system at one time before it became democratic.
Mr. Zhang from Hebei mentioned it was the first time he saw Wei Jingsheng's face, although he has long respected Wei Jingsheng like the others. He commented on the background and the longevity of the Education-Through-Labor system.
Mr. Wei Jingsheng said that the system has been around for half a century under the Communists, but it did not exist prior to Communist control. Even in ancient times, people were punished only after being tried by the legal system. Education-Through-Labor is indeed "an innovative product" of Chinese Communism.
Mr. Tao from Zhejiang said that Education-Through-Labor oppresses people's thoughts and is probably unconstitutional as well.
Mr. Wei Jingsheng mentioned the importance of fairness to maintaining stability. He said that eliminating the Education-Through-Labor system and amending China's constitution are steps towards achieving the sort of fairness that will make people feel more safe and secure. Wei Jingsheng said that there is no fairness to speak of regarding Education-Through-Labor. "Why are there so many TV series in China in recent years about 'Bao Gong' and 'Hai Rui'", Wei Jingsheng asked and answered it himself: "It is not about that people miss these two ancient legends, but a way to express their longing for the fairness in their hearts".
Wei Ke and Wei Jingsheng then discussed the similarities between the Education-Through-Labor system and the "repatriation" system used to round up people without adequate ID's and papers to prove they are "legal residents" of the cities. Earlier this year a college graduate, Sun ZhiGang, was beaten to death while being detained under the repatriation system. A great deal of attention was focused on criticizing this system after people realized that many more people, especially powerless and unknown peasants who sought a living in the cities, had gone through the same ordeal even to death. This action has forced the Chinese government to abolish the "repatriation system" later on. Wei Ke asked if the Education-Through-Labor system could be changed through similar negative attention, especially considering the outrage people voiced toward the tortured death of Zhang Bin, a victim of Labor-Through-Education.
Mr. Wei Jingsheng said that if people stood up and spoke out against it then it would be possible to change it. However, the Communist Party regards this system as a convenient tool for controlling the people. It would balk at the prospect of eliminating it unless people tried their best to stop such an illegal and unfair practice.
Wei Jingsheng suggested that it is a good time for everyone work together and push hard to abolish such a system now, in particular at this time of the new leadership transaction period. "You know, now there is a strong internal struggle within the Chinese Communist leadership, especially between Jiang (Zemin) and Hu (Jintao). Both sides have been working hard to get extra credits for themselves. There is a possibility of such credit coming from responding to a popular uprising against Education-Through-Labor, although it would be difficult for the Communists to give up such a desirable tool for themselves."
The later half of the program featured the interview with his holiness the
After the program, Mr. Wei Jingsheng talked to VOA's Mandarin Service director, Mr. William Baum, and was well received by more than a dozen of its staff.
For the complete one-hour long TV broadcast, please connect to the link:
For the related photos, please see through links at:
1. Wei Jingsheng on VOA's radio program:
2．Setup at VOA's TV studio:
3．Mr. William Baum, director of Mandarin Service of VOA, supervising the show:
4．Mr. Wei Jingsheng with Wei Ke, the anchor of VOA's TV shows:
5．Mr. Wei talks to Mr. Baum, the Mandarin Service Director of VOA:
6．VOA staff welcome Mr. Wei Jingsheng's visit:
（Summary by Ciping Huang, with help from VOA and other volunteers.）
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