China: Activist investigating manufacturer for Ivanka Trump & other brands detained; firm denies allegations

On 30 May 2017, the Associated Press reported that Hua Haifeng, an investigator for China Labor Watch, had been arrested on a charge of illegal surveillance. His two colleagues Li Zhao and Su Heng were feared to have also been detained. They were working undercover at Huajian Group factories to investigate labour rights concerns.

Huajian Group supplies footwear to a number of western brands. The company denies the labour rights allegations.

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25 June 2018

Activists who investigated abuse at Chinese suppliers for Ivanka Trump’s brand released from bail terms

Author: Associated Press

Three China Labour Watch activists arrested last year while investigating abuses at Chinese suppliers for Ivanka Trump’s fashion brand were released from terms of their bail on Tuesday, the New York non-profit group said, but questions remain about their ability to live and work freely in China…

Last May, the activists were arrested and detained for a month as they gathered evidence of low pay and excessive overtime, as well as physical and crude verbal abuse at a Huajian Group shoe factory...Huajian has dismissed those allegations as false and said the men were conducting industrial espionage…

Though the men have been out of jail for a year, under the terms of their bail they have been subject to travel restrictions and police surveillance – conditions that now should be lifted…

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7 June 2017

Chinese Govt. admits holding 3 labour rights activists who were investigating Huajian Group, supplier to Ivanka Trump - rebuffs US Govt. call for their release

Author: Philip Wen, Reuters (UK)

China rejects U.S. call for release of labor rights activists, 6 Jun 2017

China on Tuesday said it had detained labor rights activists who scrutinized conditions at a Chinese company making Ivanka Trump-branded shoes, rebuffing a call from the U.S State Department for the release of the three men. The remarks were the first official confirmation of last month's statement by China Labor Watch...that one activist had been arrested and two were missing after studying conditions at factories that produce shoes for [Ivanka Trump] and other Western brands. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the activists were detained and investigated on suspicion of interfering with a company's "normal operation and production activities", and the illegal use of "professional surveillance equipment".

On Monday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department expressed concern over reports that Chinese authorities had detained labor rights activist Hua Haifeng and that two other labor activists – Su Heng and Li Zhao – were also missing and presumed to have been detained. "We urge China to release them immediately...," said the spokeswoman, Alicia Edwards. Labour activists have helped U.S. companies understand conditions in their China supply chains, "which can be essential in fulfilling their own responsibilities and holding Chinese manufacturers accountable under Chinese labor laws," she added. [also refers to Huajian Group]

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5 June 2017

Activist investigating Ivanka Trump shoe supplier is detained in China

Author: Alec Macfarlane and Steven Jiang, CNN

1 Jun 2017

An activist investigating a company that manufactures shoes for Ivanka Trump and other Western brands has been detained by police in China -- and two of his colleagues remain unaccounted for.

The activists were working undercover at two factories in southern China, according to China Labor Watch, the New York-based advocacy group for which they were carrying out the investigation...

The news comes amid a broader crackdown in China on independent groups pushing for better labor rights in the world's second-largest economy.

One of the activists, Hua Haifeng, was detained by local police in Jiangxi province for "illegal surveillance," said Li Qiang, the head of China Labor Watch. The other two activists, Li Zhao and Su Heng, are missing, he said.

The activists took jobs between March and May at two factories run by Chinese shoe manufacturer Huajian Group -- one in Jiangxi and the other in Guangdong -- in order to investigate labor practices at the company, Li said.

Su, who was working at the factory in Jiangxi, found evidence of violations of workers' rights during the production of Ivanka Trump shoes, according to Li. They included employees working for as many as 18 hours a day for pay below the minimum wage, he said.

In a statement, Huajian denied the allegations of excessively long hours and low pay, but said it would look into another accusation by China Labor Watch that the company was illegally hiring students as interns…

A spokeswoman for Marc Fisher Footwear, which licenses the Ivanka Trump brand for shoes, said the firm was unaware of the allegations and would look into them immediately… [also refers to Alain Delon, Kyllie + Kendall, Karl Lagerfeld]

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1 June 2017

China firm that makes shoes for Ivanka Trump denies missing activists' claims

Author: Associated Press, Guardian (UK)

A Chinese company that makes shoes for Ivanka Trump and other brands denied allegations...of excessive overtime and low wages – accusations made by three activists who have been arrested or disappeared...

“We are shocked,” Long Shan, a spokeswoman for the Huajian Group, said in an email to the Associated Press. “As a renowned global media outlet, you have put out many untrue reports not based on facts and without our consent.”...

“By coming to Huajian to work, they are Huajian employees. Huajian staff must comply with China’s laws and regulations and Huajian’s rules,” she said, adding that at least one of the men “used methods like taking photographs and video to obtain the company’s trade secrets, which is not in line with the company’s regulations. Our company has the right to hold him accountable.”

She said reports of managers verbally abusing workers, including insults and a crude reference in Chinese to female genitalia, were based on misunderstanding. “It is the local dialect being used as management language,” she said...

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