China Uses Prisoners for Hard Labor, Gold-Farming

May 26, 2011 -

According to a report in UK-based paper The Guardian, China has been using its prison population as slave labor.. in MMORPG's. According to the report, prisoners were put to work breaking rocks and digging trenches in in the coalmines of Northern China. By night prisoners would be forced to play MMORPG's to earn virtual currency, which guards would trade for real-world money.

One prisoner, who served three years at the Jixi labor camp for pointing out corruption in his hometown, described the conditions at the camp in startling detail. Liu Dali told the paper that prisoners were forced to play online games to enrich the guards of the prison. The 54-year-old was a former prison guard who made the mistake of "illegally petitioning" the central government about corruption in his hometown in 2004. Dali says that the online slave labor is probably more lucrative than the physical labor that prisoners are forced to do.

"Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labor," Liu told the Guardian. "There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off."

The camp is a re-education facility that uses hard labor to teach prisoners the error of their ways. Dali says that memories of his time there still haunt him. Other "activities" he and other prisoners were forced to take part in included carving chopsticks and toothpicks out of planks of wood until his hands were raw, and assembling car seat covers that the prison exported to South Korea and Japan. He said that he was also made to memorize communist literature to pay off his debt to society.

But of all those activities, the online gaming was the most mentally taxing work. While the grind may have seemed fake or surreal to prisoners, falling behind in these virtual worlds brought real-world punishment.

"If I couldn't complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things," he said.

It is estimated that 80 percent of all gold farmers are in China. While the central government issued a directive making it illegal for businesses without licenses to trade in 2009, Dali believes that the practice of using prisoners is still widespread because these places are run by the government.

"Many prisons across the north-east of China also forced inmates to play games. It must still be happening," he said.

"China is the factory of virtual goods," said Jin Ge, a researcher from the University of California San Diego. "You would see some exploitation where employers would make workers play 12 hours a day. They would have no rest through the year. These are not just problems for this industry but they are general social problems. The pay is better than what they would get for working in a factory. It's very different."

"Prison labor is still very widespread – it's just that goods travel a much more complex route to come to the US these days. And it is not illegal to export prison goods to Europe," said Nicole Kempton from the Laogai foundation, a Washington-based group which opposes the forced labor camp system in China.

Liu Dali's name was changed to protect him from retaliation by prison officials and the government.

Source: The Guardian


Comments

Re: China Uses Prisoners for Hard Labor, Gold-Farming

I'm not anywhere near as surprised by this as I'd like to be.  In fact, this story explains a great deal.

"Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend. Do it in the name of Heaven, Jack Thompson'll justify it in the end." - nightwng2000

"Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend. Do it in the name of Heaven, Jack Thompson'll justify it in the end." - nightwng2000

Re: China Uses Prisoners for Hard Labor, Gold-Farming

I won't lie. I lol'd.

Re: China Uses Prisoners for Hard Labor, Gold-Farming

There's an argument for not buying gold I can get behind, same as when you buy illegal drugs you support organized crime.

-Austin from Oregon

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E. Zachary KnightIt doesn't matter what is inside the needle. As long as it requires him to take the step of purposefully injecting himself, the threat of the substance is as close to zero as you can get.09/21/2014 - 1:27pm
quiknkoldEzach: I'm not talking about the needle. I'm talking about what's inside. Geeze. Depending on what it is, the sender could be guilty of bioterrorism.09/21/2014 - 12:51pm
E. Zachary Knightquiknkold, No. That syringe is not worse than white powder or a bomb. The syringe requires the recipient to actually inject themselves. Not true for other mail threats.09/21/2014 - 12:49pm
Andrew EisenThe closest to a threat I ever received was a handwritten note slipped under my door that read "I KNOW it was you." Still no idea what that was about. I think the author must have got the wrong apartment.09/21/2014 - 12:28pm
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james_fudgeand expensive for an American to ship to London.09/21/2014 - 8:55am
E. Zachary KnightThat is pretty scary. Would have been worse if it were a fake bomb or white powder.09/21/2014 - 8:49am
quiknkoldThere's some more tweets regarding it with more pictures09/21/2014 - 8:09am
quiknkoldMilo Yiannopoulos was mailed a syringe filled with clear liquid. He claims it's anti gamergate harassment. Mentioned on his twitter twitter.com/Nero/status/51366668391625523209/21/2014 - 8:07am
Andrew EisenNow, having said that, what sites are you reading that are claiming that if "you self-identify as a Gamer, you're immediately the problem" or that gamers are "obligated to stop harassment"? Or was that hyperbole too?09/21/2014 - 1:03am
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Sleaker@Craig R. - at this point I don't even know what the hashtags are suppsed to be in support of. what does GamerGate actually signify.09/21/2014 - 12:21am
Sleaker@AE - Hyperbole for the first 2, but it seems like some of the comments in the shout are attempting to place blame on fellow gamers because they aren't actively telling people to stop harassing even though they don't necessarily know anyone that has.09/21/2014 - 12:16am
Andrew EisenSleaker - Who the heck are you reading that is claiming "all gamers are bad," we "need to pass laws or judgement on all gamers," that if "you self-identify as a Gamer, you're immediately the problem," or that gamers are "obligated to stop harassment"?09/20/2014 - 9:44pm
erthwjimhe swatted more than just krebs, I think he swatted 30 people http://krebsonsecurity.com/2014/05/teen-arrested-for-30-swattings-bomb-threats/09/20/2014 - 9:31pm
Craig R.Btw, the guy who swatted security expert Brian Krebs? He got picked up recently. It can be done.09/20/2014 - 8:55pm
 

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