Chi­nese ac­tivist ques­tions ar­rest in Ivanka Trump shoe fac­tory in­ves­ti­ga­tion

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Bei­jing, China - Labour ac­tivist Hua Haifeng had avoided le­gal trou­ble in his 14 years in­ves­ti­gat­ing com­pa­nies in China, but that changed af­ter he looked into a fac­tory that made shoes for Ivanka Trump’s brand.

Hua and two col­leagues had worked un­der­cover in fac­to­ries that man­u­fac­tured shoes for the brand of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s daugh­ter and other for­eign firms when they were de­tained in May.

The 36 year old ac­tivist and the two other men, who work for New York-based non-profit China La­bor Watch (CLW), were ac­cused of us­ing ‘ spy­ing and other mon­i­tor­ing equip­ment’.

The gov­ern­ment has in­ten­si­fied a crack­down on hu­man rights ac­tivists and lawyers in re­cent years.

But Hua told AFP he be­lieves the fac­tory’s link to the Ivanka Trump brand may have been a ‘fac­tor that at­tracted po­lice in­ter­est’, though he can­not con­firm it.

“As for Ms Ivanka and her fam­ily, I want to say that busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties should abide by busi­ness reg­u­la­tions, and not use a fam­ily’s po­lit­i­cal re­sources for per­sonal com­mer­cial gain,” said Hua.

Hua, who was re­leased on bail in June along with his col­leagues, said he was in­ter­ro­gated on 16 oc­ca­sions for up to three hours at a time. He was kept in a shared cell where he slept be­side a urine bucket. For the first week he was not given ac­cess to a lawyer, but the fa­ther of two said his condi- tions grad­u­ally im­proved as his wife paid the au­thor­i­ties to give him bet­ter food.

Li Qiang, CLW’s found­ing direc­tor, said the case marks the first time ac­tivists have faced po­lice trou­ble in the non-profit’s 17 year his­tory.

“But this is the first time we’ve in­ves­ti­gated Ivanka Trump [sup­pli­ers], so it may very well be re­lated to the brand,” Li said.

The ac­tivists had been prob­ing two plants owned by ma­jor footwear pro­ducer Hua­jian Group - one in the city of Dong­guan in south­ern Guang­dong prov­ince, the other in south­ern Jiangxi prov­ince’s Ganzhou.

A CLW state­ment al­leged that fac­tory em­ploy­ees worked 15-hour days with min­i­mal breaks and no over­time pay, among other labour abuses.

Col­lec­tively, the in­ves­ti­ga­tors worked un­der­cover at the fac­to­ries for sev­eral weeks be­tween March and May.


Hua Haifeng

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