Published: Thu, June 01, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Men probing Ivanka Trump supplier in China arrested, missing

China Labor Watch executive director Li Qiang says he assumes the men must be held either by the factory or the police to be unreachable.

The three activists were investigating labour conditions at Huajian shoe factories for China Labour Watch (CLW), a New York-based non-profit organisation that aims to defend workers' rights.

Li said in 17 years of activism, including investigations of hundreds of factories in China, his group had never had anyone arrested on suspicion of having committed a crime.

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

Hua Haifeng disappeared sometime Sunday while en route to the Huajian International shoe factory in southern China's Jiangxi province.

"We're helping Ivanka to discover labor abuses at the factories that supply her", he says.

Ivanka Trump's lifestyle brand imports most of its merchandise from China, trade data show.

Analysts say China's government has not hesitated to avail itself of the back channel to the White House provided by Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.

"The government is taking a harsher line towards activists, especially those working for overseas organizations", said William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International. "Since Trump took office, U.S".

"But this is the first time we've investigated Ivanka Trump (manufacturers), so it may very well be related to the brand". The Ivanka Trump brand declined to comment to the Associated Press.

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White House communications director Michael Dubke announced his resignation Tuesday, saying it had been an honor to serve Trump. A special counsel is now investing whether Trump's associates may have colluded with Russian Federation during the campaign.

Deng Guilian, Hua's wife, was notified of his arrest by Jiangxi authorities on Tuesday. Li added that a friend had tried to file a missing person report on Li Zhao in Jiangxi, where the factory is located, but was told he had to do so in the man's hometown.

The families of Li and Su couldn't be reached for comment. Calls to the Ganzhou Public Security Bureau went unanswered on Wednesday. Su Heng had been working undercover at the Ganzhou factory since April, Li said.

Two other shoe brands under the company's umbrella - Marc Fisher and Kylie + Kendall - were also being made at the Huaijian factories, according to China Labor Watch.

A spokeswoman for Marc Fisher Footwear, which manufactures Ivanka Trump shoes, said the firm was unaware of the allegations and would look into them immediately.

Huajian didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr Hua was supposed to deliver evidence of violations including images and videos to Mr Li in Hong Kong last week but was barred from leaving the country without being given a reason, Mr Li said. Hua Haifeng was stopped at the border May 25 and later questioned by police, Li said. They're presumed to be detained by police. They included employees working for as many as 18 hours a day for pay below the minimum wage, he said.

Hua's wife, Deng, meanwhile, has yet to tell the couple's children, ages 3 and 7, about their father's plight. But they seem to know anyway, she said.

"My son suddenly burst into tears". "I said Papa would come home soon and buy you toys". But they seem to know anyway, she said.

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