The point here was underscored by this recent article from the NY Times:
"Last year [he] was among tens of thousands of Chinese who were dumped into the nation’s vast 're-education through labor' system, a Stalinist-inspired constellation of penal colonies where pickpockets, petitioners, underground Christian church members and other perceived social irritants toil in dismal conditions for up to four years, all without trial. With as many as 190,000 inmates at any one time, it is one of the world’s largest systems of forced labor."And further:
"The Ministry of Public Security has other reasons to preserve the status quo. The system, which employs tens of thousands of people, is a gold mine for local authorities, who earn money from the goods produced by detainees. Officials also covet the bribes offered to reduce sentences, critics say, and the payments families make to ensure a loved one is properly fed while in custody."
I realize that we have prison labor in America. I think this is shameful, especially what's highlighted in this report by Russia Today. Spending time on education would be much better (prison manufacturing is not vocational training). Anyways, at least in the US the news media has the right to cover prison labor and the prisoners had due process.