China

A chilling look at a Chinese “thought transformation” camp

In the 1930s the Soviet government used to take Western visitors on carefully-staged tours of selected prisons. All too often the visitors came away impressed by these phony displays which disguised the brutal realities.

Among those fooled (perhaps willingly) was George Bernard Shaw, who wrote:

In England a delinquent enters [the jail, that is] as an ordinary man and comes out as a “criminal type,” whereas in Russia he enters… as a criminal type and would come out as an ordinary man but for the difficulty of inducing him to come out at all. As far as I could make out they could stay as long as they liked.

Fast forward 80 years and the Chinese government is taking some Western journalists on restricted tours of Potemkin “schools” for some of the million or so alleged Muslim extremists incarcerated by the regime. Fortunately the BBC’s John Sudworth wasn’t buying it– although I can think of some Westerners who might.

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