Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

China frees 3 activists who probed Ivanka Trump supplier

China frees 3 activists who probed Ivanka Trump supplier

New York-based China Labor Watch said Chinese nationals Hua Haifeng, Su Heng and Li Zhao were released Wednesday from police custody. Li sent two letters to the White House, one of which urged Trump to use her influence to gain the release of the three men.

China has strengthened considerably since 2015 its treatment of the activists of the rights of workers, in a country that prohibits independent trade union activity.

The Ivanka Trump Company has told CNNMoney that its products have not been produced at the factory in question since March.

NYU's Cohen said he suspects the case wasn't strong enough, and now may follow the pattern of the one against Ai Weiwei, the dissident artist who was released on bail in 2011 and never faced trial.

They discovered that employees were forced to work overtime while being paid less than the minimum wage, according to CLW director Li, who has alleged that the factory issued fake pay slips that showed wages greater than the workers' actual compensation. "China Labor Watch hopes that the court will provide the investigators with a fair trial", the group said in a statement.

Workers at a Chinese factory used by Ivanka Trump and other fashion brands tell The Associated Press of overtime that stretches past midnight, steep production quotas and crude verbal abuse. China Labor Watch said two were taken from a hotel room while the third was detained by customs officials in the southern city of Shenzhen while en route to Hong Kong. The three were detained by police in late May. They had been detained for about a month for allegedly using bugging and eavesdropping devices while collecting information about a plant owned by shoemaker Huajian Group in the southeast province of Jiangxi.

Ivanka Trump stepped down from her management role in the Ivanka Trump company when she took a job in her father's administration. Marc Fisher, which produces shoes for Ivanka Trump and other brands, has said it is looking into the allegations.

The detentions came as China has cracked down on perceived threats to the stability of its ruling Communist Party, particularly from sources with foreign ties such as China Labor Watch.

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