The End of Reeducation Through Labor? Recent Developments and Prospects for Reform

562 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 | Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 11:00am to 12:30pm
Transcript (PDF)(Text)

Under China's reeducation through labor system, Chinese officials can order citizens to be held in reeducation through labor centers for up to four years without a trial or legal representation. There are no definitive figures, but hundreds of thousands of Chinese may currently be held in these centers. The system has come under sharp criticism for violating the rule of law, imposing harsh conditions and forced labor on detainees, and in some cases targeting religious practitioners, rights activists, bloggers, and those seeking redress for official abuses. In recent months, high-profile and controversial cases have led to public calls to abolish the system—which have even been supported by China's state-run media. Chinese officials in turn have raised hopes this year of major reform of the system, including a March statement by Premier Li Keqiang on the government's plans to introduce reform by the end of the year. At this CECC roundtable, a panel of experts discussed recent developments and the prospects for reform.

On May 9, the Commission released an issue paper, Prospects for Reforming China's Reeducation Through Labor System" to provide further insight into this topic.

This roundtable was webcast.

Opening Statements: 

Senator Sherrod Brown, Chairman

Representative Christopher Smith, Cochairman



Prof. Ira Belkin, Executive Director, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, New York University School of Law

Prof. Margaret K. Lewis, Associate Professor of Law, Seton Hall Law School

Dr. Li Xiaorong, Independent Scholar

Mr. Harry Wu, Founder and Executive Director, Laogai Research Foundation