F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines
Week of:
May 21, 2000
Ban on Slave-Labor Goods is Overdue

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

The U.S. Government should not be purchasing slave- labor goods -- from China or anywhere else!

"A ban on federal government purchases of goods made by forced labor overseas is being urged for the first time in Congress," reports Carl Olson of State Department Watch. "Along with banning such purchases by the federal government for use in this country and abroad, House Concurrent Resolution 308," Olson relates, "urges the same policy for all international organizations the U.S. belongs to."

Olson stresses that slave labor is an integral part of the Communist Chinese economy. "The surge in imports from China to more than $80 billion per year means that goods from the Chinese 'laogai' forced- labor system are entering this country," he asserts. "The laogai has eight million forced workers in 1,100 factories, farms, and other facilities making a wide variety of products ranging from sophisticated electronics and chemicals to simple toys and clothing."

Olson points out that the federal proposal is modeled on a state ban enacted in California in 1996. He notes that similar prohibitions are under consideration in New York, Indiana, and Hawaii. "Although the importing of goods made by forced labor is supposed to be banned under the Tariff Act of 1930," Olson acknowledges, "it is not effectively enforced."

Olson charges that the State Department's 1992 Memorandum of Understanding with China regarding the inspection of suspected slave-labor facilities "has been ignored by the Chinese government without any consequence. The State Department," he adds, "has no regulation to avoid purchasing slave-made goods for its own use or for foreign aid programs." Olson says that "no agency in the federal government has any contract provision, regulation, or monitoring program to prevent the purchase of slave-made goods or services. For the billions of dollars of purchases overseas for use overseas by the Federal government, there is absolutely no prohibition under law against purchasing and using slave-made goods since the goods are not imported into the U.S."

Olson urges the federal government to "use its influence to adopt anti-slave labor purchasing policies for over 100 multi-government organizations that it belongs to. The International Labor Organization of the United Nations has often spoken out against slave and forced labor practices," he affirms, "but the UN has not implemented an anti-slave labor policy for its own multi-billion-dollar budget."

If we carp about "working for the government" for a third of the year just to cover our tax bills, or grumble at having to serve as "wage slaves" in someone else's employ, or bemoan a job with "no future," how should we react to life in the laogai? What should we think of a 126-hour, seven-day work week? Not a single day of vacation, ever? Not even being able to go home at night? Having no say in the choice of our jobs? Enjoying no safety standards or conveniences of any kind in the workplace? Getting no paycheck at all? We can't imagine such conditions, nor would we wish them on our worst enemies. Why, then, do we coddle the wicked regime that subjects its noblest citizens to this abuse?

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