Activist probing Ivanka Trump supplier in China detained: NGO

The three men - Hua Haifeng, Li Zhao, and Su Heng - had been working undercover with China Labor Watch, a New York-based non-profit, to investigate working conditions at the Ganzhou Huajian International Shoe City Co. factory in Jiangxi province.

According to the report, Haifeng's wife Deng Guillian "said the caller told her she didn't need to know the details, only that she would not be able to see, speak with or receive money from her husband, the family's breadwinner".

"This is the first time we've come across this kind of situation", he said, adding the accusation against Mr Hua had "no factual basis".

Other customers supplied by the two factories under investigation by China Labor Watch include Coach, Alain Delon, Nine West and Karl Lagerfeld, the advocacy group said. "But now it has become more political".

Li said the activists were probing two factories owned by major footwear producer Huajian Group - one in the city of Dongguan in southern Guangdong province, the other in Jiangxi's Ganzhou.

A Chinese activist investigating a company that manufactures shoes for Ivanka Trump's label and other Western brands has been detained by police in China, and two of his colleagues remain unaccounted for.

White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks referred questions to Ivanka Trump's company, which declined to comment.

Ivanka Trump is officially engaged in the White House, where she was designated as the president's counselor. A current spokeswoman for the company, Long Shan, did not reply to questions Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

China Labor Watch was preparing a report on the factory to be published next month which allege low pay, exploitation of a student intern programme and excessive overtime.

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. "That factory manufactures U.S. president's daughter's product", she said.

Huajian didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

"We appeal to President Trump, Ivanka Trump herself, and to her related brand company to advocate and press for the release of our activists".

According to AP, between 10.000 and 20.000 designed by Ivanka and her team are produced annually, part of the 20 million pairs the company produces annually.

In his view, the unusual action by the Chinese police appeared to be a response to his group's decision to investigate a manufacturing operation related to President Trump's family. She said China welcomed global NGOs to carry out research, but added, "we also hope that NGOs can also observe Chinese laws and regulations and don't engage in any illegal actions or behavior".

Li said on separate occasions this month and in April, Hua and one of the other activists, Li Zhao, had attempted to meet him in Hong Kong but were turned away because they were "suspected of criminal activity". Rights groups and journalists have documented widespread abuse of the system over the years.

"I was shocked and freaked out", Deng Guilian said. "I can't accept it's justice", she said by phone from her home in the central province of Hubei.

  • Leroy Wright