Clickon the box of decorations to read the letter.
In 2012, a box of Halloween decorations was purchased at a Kmart in the United States by a woman named Julie Keith. Inside the box was found a letter written by a labour camp prisoner from Masanjia Labor Camp in Shenyang, China.
The letter sparked a media frenzy around the world which helped lead to the eventual closure of the Masanjia camp and the Chinese government’s claim that the labour camp system would be abolished.
Importing goods made in prisons is illegal in the US and considered unethical worldwide, so many Chinese labour camps manufacture goods under a different name so that they can avoid customs regulations. This means that products manufactured in the camps can still find their way into our homes.
In 2009 at least $700 million was earned by only 99 of the 320 confirmed re-education camps. At the height of production at Masanjia, it was reportedly earning $16 million a year.
Here are some examples of common goods that can be made in labour camps:
- A quarter of China’s tea is produced in labour camps.
- Rubber that is used for tires, shoe soles, hoses, and hockey pucks.
- Construction equipment, tools, steel pipes, diesel engines and textile machinery, auto parts.
- Seasonal decorations such as the Halloween decorations purchased by Julie Keith.
- Produce like grapes and organic materials like wool for textiles.
- Other plastic and rubber goods such as artificial flowers, surgical gloves, condoms.