US wants China to free Ivanka Trump shoe factory activists | News | DW | 06.06.2017
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages

Asia

US wants China to free Ivanka Trump shoe factory activists

Two Chinese nationals have disappeared after investigating factories producing shoes for Ivanka Trump's brand. Activists have urged the US president's daughter to "avoid being the beneficiary of unseemly favors."

The US State Department on Monday urged China to immediately release three Chinese activists involved in an investigation into labor rights violations at factories that produce shoes for Ivanka Trump's brand.

"We are concerned by reports that Chinese authorities have detained labor rights activists Hua Haifeng, and that two other labor activists - Su Heng and Li Zhao - are also missing and presumed to be detained," said state department spokeswoman Alicia Edwards.

Read more: Trump meets his creditor - China's Xi Jinping

Edwards noted that labor activists have helped US companies understand working conditions in their supply chain in China, "which can be essential in fulfilling their own responsibilities and holding Chinese manufacturers accountable under Chinese labor laws."

According to New York-based advocacy group China Labor Watch, one activist was arrested by Chinese authorities while two others went missing last month. The three activists managed to work covertly at factories while they investigated abuses.

Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch, said the group plans to publish a report alleging excessive overtime, low pay and possible misuse of student labor.

Workers at the factories that produce shoes for the brand of the US president's daughter received less than $1 (0.89 euros) per hour and worked shifts as long as 18 hours, said a report published last month by China Labor Watch.

Li Zhao was one of two labor activists who disappeared last month after working covertly at a factory producing shoes for Ivanka Trump

Li Zhao was one of two labor activists who disappeared last month after working covertly at a factory producing shoes for Ivanka Trump. A third activists was arrested by Chinese authorities

'Unseemly favors'?

Given the business interests held by Ivanka, who works at the White House as an unpaid adviser, US media, advocacy groups and political activists have called on her to legally separate herself from her business to avoid conflict of interest with her government role.

In an op-ed published by The Washington Post, its editorial board called on Ivanka to either recuse herself from all government business involving China or divest her interest in her company to "avoid being the beneficiary of unseemly favors."

Read more: Can a President Trump avoid conflict of interests?

"If she does neither, it will be reasonable to ask whether sweatshop labor and political repression are now part of the fabric of US-China relations," the editorial said.

The White House, Ivanka Trump's brand and her lawyer have declined to comment on the missing activists. However, Marc Fisher Footwear, which produces shoes for Ivanka Trump along with other brands, said it would look into the allegations of labor rights violations.

ls/rc (Reuters, AP)

DW recommends

ADVERTISEMENT