Thursday, May 26, 2011

Before you admonish the next Chinese gold seller you come across...

... read this article.

I can't say for sure that this article is 100% true, but I find it quite sad and if it is. This article in The Guardian says that Chinese prisoners are being forced to gold farming. Whoa. Just whoa.

The article chronicles the story of a prisoner that says that prisoners were not only forced to do manual labor by day, but were also made to play online games and farm gold in MMOs such as World of Warcraft by night.

"Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labor. 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 [$770-$924] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off."

"It was the forced online gaming that was the most surreal part of his imprisonment. The hard slog may have been virtual, but the punishment for falling behind was real".

"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".

This prisoner was released in 2009, but stated that he still believes that the practice of prisoners being forced to earn online currency in multiplayer games is still widespread.

I am saddened by the plight of these Chinese prisoners. With all the talk about China becoming a world power we seem to have forgotten that they are still a communist society with no real freedoms for their citizens. What kind of prisoners are these, that are forced to farm gold? Political prisoners? Religious prisoners? Prisoners speaking out for Tibetan independence? Journalists? Simple people speaking out against their government? Sad, just sad.

I'm also just astonished that there is still such a market for gold... that prison bosses would force their prisoners to farm gold. FFS people, don't buy gold.


  1. I don't pay much attentions, but I did notice the other day what the prices fer gold is gotten rediculous cheap - sumthin' like 10k fer $20. At them prices, is not surprisifying what prisoners is bein' made ta slave fer gold - gets harder fer ta affords ta hire folks, even in China.

    Is crappy sad situation.

  2. I remember in the late 90s when there was a ritual each year in which the US decided if China had complied with human rights standards "enough" to qualify for Most Favored Nation trading status. At that point, it was at least discussed once a year. Right now, I can't remember the last serious piece on the subject from the media.

    It's great that they are so efficient (low labor costs) and puke on the environment in such a way that they accrue a massive foreign reserve deposit. Free-er trade may be a more efficient pricing mechanism, but it misses the externalized costs on society and the environment.

    A government without checks and balances is a scary government indeed.