... Not anytime soon, anyway.
Last week, china's "Re-education Through Labor" system returned to the center of public attention.
Re-education through labor, or laojiao in shorthand Chinese, has long been a reviled means for police to jail Chinese citizens without due process. In 2011, laojiao was used to sentence a young man named Ren Jianyu to two years in prison for re-posting online sentiments critical of the government. In August of 2012, it was used to sentence a woman named Tang Hui to 18 months in prison for protesting what she felt was a too-lenient sentence given to two men who raped her daughter and forced her into prostitution.
Things may soon be changing. On January 7, right after China's Annual National Conference on Politics and Law, state-run China Central Television wrote via its account on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter, (@央视新闻) that the widely-reviled laojiao system might come to an end. Meng Jianzhu, the secretary of the Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs of the Party, proclaimed at the conference that if approved by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the laojiao system would be stopped in 2013. The Xinhua News Agency confirmed the news later that day.
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But this auspicious tweet was deleted within a few hours, as were relevant news articles on major portals. According to a revised Xinhua News Agency release, the laojiao system was to be "reformed" rather than "ended." China's web users, immersed in joy and celebration when the original news came, were left in confusion.