A horrid Christmas tale

The Guardian reports that “China has denied using forced prison labor after reports that a six-year-old girl in England had discovered a cry for help…allegedly made by inmates” inside a Christmas card sold by British supermarket chain Tesco:

Qingpu prison in Shanghai has come under scrutiny after a note was found in a Christmas card that read: “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qinqpu prison China. Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organization.”

Gěng Shuǎng 耿爽, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, said at a regular press briefing in Beijing: “I can tell you responsibly that after seeking clarification from relevant departments, Shanghai Qingpu prison does not at all have … forced labor by foreign convicts.”

Tesco, which has withdrawn the card from shelves, said the Christmas card in question was made by the Zhejiang Yunguang printing factory, about 60 miles from Qingpu prison. On its website, the factory lists Tesco and Disney as its main clients…

The use of prison labor is common in China, where the practice is legal, to subsidise maintenance costs of facilities and production for Chinese companies. According to Chinese law, “prison enterprises” should not have inmates work more than eight hours a day, five days a week.