The Ivanka Trump brand can’t seem to find its way out of the spotlight.
This week, Hua Haifenga, a Chinese activist reportedly investigating workers’ rights abuses at an Ivanka Trump shoe supplier was detained, according to a BBC report. And what’s more, two other activists believed to be part of the investigation are missing.
According to the report, Haifeng was working undercover for the U.S.-based China Labor Watch (CLW), looking into alleged forced overtime and wage violations, which he reportedly witnessed. The Ivanka Trump supplier Haifeng was investigating also produces goods for brands like Karl Lagerfeld, Coach and Nine West.
Amnesty International has demanded the release of both Haifeng and the two missing persons, stating those two, Li Zhao and Su Heng, who were working undercover at Huajian factories in Dongguan in Guangdong province and in Ganzhou, might also have been detained.
“The trio appear to be the latest to fall foul of the Chinese authorities’ aggressive campaign against human rights activists who have any ties to overseas organizations, using the pretense of ‘national security’,” William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, said in a statement obtained by the BBC.
The CLW reported that Haifeng was detained in Jiangxi province on being thought to have illegally used eavesdropping equipment, but that the allegation had “no factual basis.” The group’s executive director, Li Qiang, told the BBC the firm Haifeng had been studying, Huajian Group, had “violated workers’ rights in ways that included: forced overtime, wages lower than China’s legal minimum wage, managers’ verbal abuse of workers, and violations of women’s rights.”
Li went on to say that in 17 years of investigating Chinese factories, this instance was the first time any investigators had been detained under a criminal process.
Haifeng’s wife told BBC that she last heard from her husband Sunday, and was contacted by police Tuesday, who told her Haifeng had been detained.
News outlets are speculating whether China is really behind the detaining of Haifeng, and are questioning President Trump’s possible involvement.
Neither the Chinese authorities, the Trump Administration nor Ivanka Trump’s brand have yet to release any statements on the matter.