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Labour Activists Detained While Investigating Ivanka Trump’s Manufacturer

In late May, Hua Haifeng, Su Heng, and Li Zhao—three labour activists working for the New York-based advocacy group China Labor Watch (CLW)—were detained by the police in Ganzhou, Jiangxi province, while investigating labour conditions at factories making designer shoes for global brands. In particular, they were inspecting a supplier of Ivanka Trump’s fashion brand. Earlier in May, CLW had issued an interim report that alleged forced overtime and a monthly salary of 2,500 yuan in this factory. The three investigators were charged on suspicion of illegal eavesdropping, and given limited access to lawyers. According to Li Qiang, the organisation’s Executive Director, CLW had been conducting investigations in China for seventeen years, but this was the first time that its investigators have been detained. Ivanka Trump’s brand has sought to distance itself from its Chinese supplier. On 5 June, Alicia Edwards, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, declared that the American government was concerned by the arrests, and added that the investigations carried out by Chinese labour activists help American companies to understand conditions in their supply chains in order to hold manufacturers accountable. In response, on 6 June Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the activists were being investigated on suspicion of using illegal ‘professional surveillance equipment’. She added that the case was being dealt with according to the law and that no foreign country had the authority to interfere in China’s judicial process. Relatives of the activists reported being harassed by the public security. On 27 June, the three investigators were released on bail. KL

(Sources: Associated Press; BBC; Bloomberg; The New York Times; The Paper)

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