China: We Won’t Release Detainees Who Investigated Ivanka Trump Shoe Factory

Three undercover investigators for the New York-based China Labor Watch, have been detained by the Chinese government. The three were investigating two factories that are believed to supply the Ivanka Trump shoe brand. The allegations include that employees were forced to work at least 12 1/2 hours a day.

Ivanka Trump’s shoes made in China

Factory that creates the Ivanka Trump shoe brand

The allegation also concluded that the employees were being paid below the minimum wage set by China and that their monthly salary ended up being about a dollar an hour. The three investigators have been missing for over a month.

Alicia Edwards, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs requested the release of the investigators, “We are concerned by reports that Chinese authorities have detained labor rights activist Hua Haifeng and that two other labor activists—Su Heng and Li Zhao—are also missing and presumed to be detained. Edwards continued and asked China to release the detainees stating that “we urge China to release them immediately and otherwise afford them the judicial and fair trial protections to which they are entitled.” All three men have been found to be being held at the Ganzhou City Detention Center in southeastern China, where conditions are described as crowded but tolerable by an attorney respresenting

Monday, China responded stating that the United States was wrong to ask for the workers release. The statement read,” “No country can interfere in China’s sovereign and judicial independence,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in response to a question regarding the interment of the investigators. Edwards replied that the U.S. remains concerned by “the pattern of arrests and detentions.” She said labor activists are instrumental in helping American companies understand conditions in their supply chains and holding Chinese manufacturers accountable under Chinese labor laws.

China Labor Watch was founded in 2000, and is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Their work shines a light on human right violations when it comes to working conditions. China Labor Watch reports that He and Li Zhao were working uncovered at a shoe factory in the city of Dongguan, that is owned by the Huajian Group. The third investigator, Su Heng, had worked at a related factory in the city of Ganzhou in Jiangxi but went incommunicado after May 27. China Labor Watch reports that both factories produced the Trump branded shoes but they had discovered evidence of violations of worker’s rights.

So far, Ivanka Trump, the White House or Ivanka Trump’s lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, have not responded to request to comment on the China situation. The hope now is that Ivanka Trump will speak about the working conditions for those employed to create her brand and to demand both the release of the three men.

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