Men probing Ivanka Trump supplier in China arrested, missing

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SHANGHAI (AP) — The arrest and disappearance of three labor activists investigating a Chinese company that produces Ivanka Trump-branded shoes in China prompted a call for her brand to cease working with the supplier and raised questions about whether the first family's commercial interests would muddy USA leadership on human rights.

A Chinese labor activist has been arrested and two others have disappeared after investigating alleged labor abuses at a factory that makes shoes for several major brands - including Ivanka Trump's.

Hua's wife, Deng, said she believed her husband's job was "helpful and meaningful to society".

The detained activist's wife said that she had lost contact with her husband on May 28, 2017, however the police contacted her on Tuesday to inform her that Hua had been detained by the authorities. She added she was anxious about her ability to support their two young children as also three elderly relatives without his income. "I can't accept it's justice", she said by phone from her home in the central province of Hubei. During their final phone conversation on Saturday, Hua told Li that police had asked him to stop investigating the Huajian factory - another turn of events that Li said was unprecedented. I feel his work is legal and meaningful.

The factory also makes products for brands such as Coach and Marc Fisher Footwear, according to Bloomberg. China Labor Watch said that early findings indicated that the factories' employees worked long hours and earned less than the local minimum wage. She said that Hua Haifeng joined the group's factory in Dongguan on May 20, but left after less than a week, and Su Heng began working at their Ganzhou factory on April 28, but also left after a short time. One such instance happened, he says, after a batch of shoes was found to have defects. "So they were forced to work until 1:30 a.m., and then they had to go back to work the same morning at 7:10 a.m". "The only reason we think this case is different is that this is Ivanka Trump's factory", he told the Washington Post.

"Unfortunately, brands and retailers have been much better at the public-relations aspect of this issue - creating the impression that they're making an effort to address labor-rights issues in their supply chain, thus burnishing their own reputation, but making very little in the way of practical changes in wages and conditions in the factories", he says. "We also hope that through her influence, we can reduce labor abuses on the production lines of multinational corporations". Li added that a friend had tried to file a missing person report on Li Zhao in Jiangxi, where the factory is located, but was told he had to do so in the man's hometown.

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Her husband, Jared Kushner, has joined her as a top aide to the USA president and his own family business has come under scrutiny over its financial dealings in China. In the past, the worst thing Li feared was having investigators kicked out of a factory or facing a short police detention.

She said a police officer informed her that the 36-year-old Hua had been arrested for "illegal surveillance".

A Chinese newspaper has alleged the claims have been created to malign the Trump family.

Ivanka Trump's company has not yet commented on the allegations.

Trump himself has been granted dozens of trademarks in China since becoming president, and relatives of Jared Kushner, an advisor to the president, were recently caught trying to entice wealthy investors into luxury developments, with the prospect of receiving United States green cards in return. Ivanka's brand of clothing, which includes handbags, knitted dresses and pullovers, woven dresses and blouses, among other items, according to U.S. Customs data provided by the research firm Panjiva to NBC News, are manufactured overseas.

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