[Marxism] China Detains Activist Who Worked at Manufacturer of Ivanka Trump Shoes

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 31 07:53:24 MDT 2017

(The activist mentioned in this article used to send his reports to 
Marxmail. When I hear about Xi Jinping returning China to its socialist 
roots, I have to laugh. Getting picked up by the cops for investigating 
China's brutal labor conditions, in this instance ironically over those 
imposed by the wife of the American president who promised to return 
jobs to the USA.)

NY Times, May 31 2017
China Detains Activist Who Worked at Manufacturer of Ivanka Trump Shoes

BEIJING — A labor activist who had been working undercover at a Chinese 
factory that makes shoes for Ivanka Trump and other brands has been 
detained by the police, as concerns rise over a crackdown on the 
country’s advocacy groups.

The activist, Hua Haifeng, who was working on behalf of the advocacy 
group China Labor Watch, was detained on suspicion of illegal 
eavesdropping, his wife, Deng Guimian, said late Tuesday. Mr. Hua and 
two other labor activists had been undercover at two Chinese factories 
that make shoes for Ms. Trump and other brands. They all disappeared on 
Saturday, according to their employer, China Labor Watch.

They were last seen in Ganzhou, a large city in southern Jiangxi 
Province. It is unclear whether the other two were detained.

The group had been investigating labor conditions at the two factories, 
one in Ganzhou and another in Dongguan. Their preliminary findings, 
which had not yet been made public, detail that workers were subject to 
exceptionally long hours.

Ms. Deng said a police officer from the Public Security Bureau in 
Jiangxi Province in south-central China called her on Tuesday afternoon 
to officially notify her of the detention. Mr. Hua could be held for 
days or weeks before being formally arrested.

Ms. Deng said her husband had worked for nongovernmental organizations, 
mainly related to labor issues, for more than a decade. She added that 
without his pay, it would be difficult to care for the couple’s 
daughter, 7, and son, 3, as well as three elderly relatives.

“I was panicked, very angry and almost lost control of my temper,” when 
the officer phoned, she said.

Li Qiang, the director of China Labor Watch, said that the three labor 
activists did not have any illegal eavesdropping equipment, and 
speculated that Mr. Hua and the other activists might have been detained 
over the use of cellphones. “Jiangxi police are just looking for an 
excuse,” he said.

The Ivanka Trump brand declined to comment on the detention. The White 
House did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

A spokeswoman for Marc Fisher Footwear, which licenses the Ivanka Trump 
brand for shoes manufactured in China by Huajian International, said, 
“We were unaware of the allegations against” the Chinese manufacturer 
and would look into them immediately.

A woman answering the phones on Tuesday night at the Ganzhou Public 
Security Bureau, the municipal unit of the Jiangxi Province Public 
Security Bureau, said that an official statement, if any, would have to 
wait until Wednesday, after the end of a three-day, national holiday.

The detention follows rising pressure on advocacy groups in the country. 
Dozens of human rights activists have been arrested in the past year, 
prompting broad alarm within the advocacy community.

Mr. Li, who set up China Labor Watch 17 years ago and has conducted 
hundreds of investigations of Chinese factories, said this was the first 
time any of his activists had been detained in a criminal case. China 
Labor Watch has previously looked into labor conditions at Apple and 

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. But he offered no 
evidence for his opinion.

The Trump family’s relationship with China has drawn significant 
attention since the campaign. While Mr. Trump has blamed the country for 
taking manufacturing jobs from the United States, his family has also 
looked to profit from China’s market.

Mr. Trump has recently secured more than 75 trademarks in China. The 
family of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is trying to raise money from 
Chinese investors for a real estate project, efforts that have 
highlighted White House connections.

The factories belong to Huajian International, one of the world’s 
largest manufacturers of women’s shoes. The Ivanka Trump brand, 
according to Huajian, represents only about 100,000 pairs of shoes a 
year out of its production of 8 million pairs a year, including brands 
like Coach and Alain Delon.

Huajian’s spokesman, Wei Xuegang, also declined to comment, citing the 
holiday. Mr. Wei had said that he had not heard of any labor activists 
in any of the company’s factories.

In interviews on Sunday and Monday outside the Huajian factory gate in 
Dongguan, many workers described working 10 or more hours a day, six 
days a week. Mr. Wei said that the company had encountered a busy season 
in which workers had agreed to work extra hours but were paid overtime. 
He added that the factory also had quiet seasons when the hours were less.

Mr. Hua had been working undercover in Huajian’s main factory in 
Dongguan. The factory, about 50 miles up the Pearl River from Hong Kong, 
has about 5,000 employees. Another activist, Su Heng, was working in 
Huajian’s second factory in Ganzhou, which has about 3,000 employees.

Huajian produces the heels for Ivanka Trump shoes in Dongguan, along 
with the full production for many other brands. It then ships the heels 
north to Ganzhou, where Ivanka Trump shoes are assembled.

A third activist, Li Zhao, was dismissed after working undercover for 
just five days in the Dongguan factory in April; he was discovered 
taking photos with his cellphone. Many factories have strict policies 
against photography to prevent industrial espionage.

Li Zhao was phoned by local police but not actually brought in for 
questioning, according to China Labor Watch. He soon fled to Ganzhou and 
then disappeared.

At the direction of China Labor Watch, Mr. Hua had left his job and 
tried to go to Hong Kong last Thursday for meetings with China Labor 
Watch and journalists, including a reporter from The New York Times. Mr. 
Hua was denied permission to exit mainland China by a Chinese 
immigration agent at the border with Hong Kong, and told to phone the 
local police in Shenzhen, the mainland border city with Hong Kong.

Mr. Hua called the police, who asked him to come in for questioning, 
according to China Labor Watch. When he arrived, the police told Mr. Hua 
that they knew he had been investigating the Huajian factory in 
Dongguan, Mr. Li said.

After the questioning, Mr. Hua, 36, fled to Ganzhou last Friday, only to 
disappear soon after, the advocacy group said.

Follow Keith Bradsher on Twitter, @KeithBradsher

Ailin Tang contributed research.

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