Chinese workers who probed Ivanka Trump-linked factories missing


The US First Family is facing questions today over its commercial interests following news that three undercover activists investigating labour conditions at a factory that makes shoes for Ivanka Trump's label have either been arrested or disappeared.

"I was scared when the police called me, I was shaking with a mix of fear and anger", Deng told the Guardian, adding she was anxious she would be unable to support their two young children as well as three elderly relatives without his income.

AP reported that Hua Haifeng was arrested and accused of illegal surveillance, while China Labor Watch said it lost touch with Li Zhao and Su Heng last weekend. For 17 years, his group has investigated working conditions at suppliers to some of the world's best-known companies.

Li Qiang, the founder of China Labor Watch, told the Post workers being detained was unusual. Next month, it was expecting to publish a report accusing the company of excessive overtime, low pay as well as possible student intern misuse. 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. In early May, Jared Kushner's sister Nicole Kushner Meyer appeared at an event in Beijing where she pushed Kushner properties and appeared to suggest that, with the family's connections to the Trump White House, she could guarantee US visas for wealthy Chinese who invest in Kushner real estate.

They discovered that employees were required to work overtime while being paid less than the minimum wage, according to Li, who alleged that the factory issued fake pay slips that showed wages greater than the workers' actual compensation. And she says she is indignant at how police have treated her husband. But now all three appear to have been detained, which he said was unprecedented for his investigators.

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.

Two other shoe brands under the company's umbrella - Marc Fisher and Kylie + Kendall - were also being made at the Huajian factories, according to China Labour Watch. In the past, the worst thing Li feared was having investigators kicked out of a factory or facing a short police detention.

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The Huajian Group said it makes 10,000 to 20,000 pairs of shoes for Ivanka Trump's brand annually.

"The accusation from Jiangxi police has no factual basis", he said. "I feel his work is legal and meaningful, so why should they arrest him?"

A woman surnamed Mu, who said she was in charge of recruitment at Huajian, said she had not heard about the case.

As if political news couldn't get any more shocking, Ivanka Trump now finds herself in the middle of a potential scandal in China.

Until now, neither the Chinese factory nor Ivanka Trump's representatives rushed to offer details related to the disappearance of those men.

Hua's wife, Deng, meanwhile, has yet to tell the couple's children, ages 3 and 7, about their father's plight.