From a review in the THES (subscriber only) of "The Great Wall of Confinement: The Chinese Prison Camp through Contemporary Fiction and Reportage":
Always in need of external enemies to deflect attention away from the misery it creates for its own people, the Communist Party of China never tires of portraying their country as a victim of imperialist aggression, Japan being a prime target. Yet even the large number of casualties suffered during the Japanese invasion of 1937-45 pales in comparison to the six to 10 million deaths caused by the communist regime, not including the many millions of deaths in labour camps and the 30 to 40 million deaths during the Great Leap Forward.
The Communist Party of China easily ranks as one of the most murderous regimes in history, but the published work on its labour camps is dwarfed by the vast, detailed and varied scholarship that has become available on the Soviet Union's gulag since 1991. Jean-Luc Domenach's monumental /L'Archipel Oublié/, published in 1992, remains unsurpassed and untranslated, its title still sadly apt in describing a state of voluntary amnesia among admirers of the so-called economic reforms introduced since Deng Xiaoping came to power - even as China is the only major world power to have entered the 21st century with a huge concentration camp system, that swallows up tens of thousands of its people without any legal recourse. [...]
Wisely departing from studies that rely on interviews with camp survivors or official statistics, the authors succeed in giving a human dimension to the /laogai/ by making critical use of a genre that has thrived since the death of Mao, namely prison literature. Many popular memoirs and novels, significant enough by the mid-1980s to be known as "prison wall literature", are specifically written on the post-Mao era, offering illuminating insights into the grim reality of everyday life in the /laogai/, a place that most visitors to glittering Shanghai would not even suspect existed. The torture of prisoners, for instance, had not abated in the 1990s. Many types of physical punishment go straight back to imperial practice from which communist rhetoric is so keen to distance itself - for instance, "hanging a chicken by its
feet", where an inmate's wrists are tied behind his back and support the full weight of the body as he is suspended from the rafters of a building, the arms being pulled out of the shoulder sockets. Modern technology, including the shock baton, is also popular, as most prisoners go through one form of torture or another.