33. Memorandum From Michel Oksenberg of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Labor Camps in China

You should be aware that some people at CIA are attempting to generate interest in the subject of labor camps in China. The timing of this effort suggests that it could be related to PRM–24, and is an effort to inject the human rights issue into our China policy considerations.

The information recently assembled comes from diverse sources of two or three years vintage (Tab A).2 It is nonetheless chilling, [1½ lines not declassified] literally tens and even hundreds of thousands of prisoners are held. My general reaction to this information is, of course, no surprise. I have interviewed refugees in Hong Kong whom, I suspect, worked in precisely these camps. At least they described digging the frozen turf in the middle of winter in Manchuria—no pleasant task.

Let us look forward to the day when our diplomatic relations with China are such that we can begin to raise this issue, and the Chinese [Page 101] will have a sufficient stake in their relationship with us that they will simply have to respond.

[1 paragraph (2 lines) not declassified]

  1. Source: Carter Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box 62, PRC 019, 6/27/77, (PRC China)–PRM 24 [1]. Secret. Sent for information.
  2. The report on labor reform centers is attached but not printed.