The following is a letter from the Head of Press and Public Affairs of the Chinese Embassy in London to the Guardian's Reader's Editor on August 10th, part of which was carried on the Guardian website on August 11th:
Dear Reader's Editor,
I am writing in reference to the comment "China's newest export: convicts" written by Brahma Chellaney, in the Guardian dated July 29th , which claims that convicts are employed as labourers on overseas projects in Sri Lanka, Maldives and countries in Africa and that Chinese companies had been doing so at the instance of the Chinese government.
It should be noted that the author made such shocking and sweeping allegations without any evidence. His allegations are both unfounded and totally untrue. Under China's law, criminal convicts are prohibited from traveling abroad and Chinese companies are not permitted to hire people with criminal records to work on their overseas projects. These regulations are strictly enforced in practice.
It's unfortunate that this article that falls short of accepted standards has found its way into a newspaper of Guardian's calibre. I hereby request that actions be taken as soon as possible by your newspaper to clarify and redress this regrettable error.