Ivanka Trump shoes slated for production at China factory despite brand’s denial

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After three Chinese activists were arrested investigating a factory where Trumps shoes were made, her brand claimed none were produced after March

When three activists investigating labour abuses at a factory that makes Ivanka Trump shoes in China were arrested, the brand stayed silent for a week and then attempted to distance itself from the controversy by saying it had been months since its products were manufactured there.

But production tables reviewed by the Guardian contradict public statements made by the brand owned by Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the US president, Donald Trump. They show that Ivanka Trump shoes were still scheduled to be made at the factory two months after the brand said they had stopped.

The case highlights the pitfalls of having a president and his relatives in the White House while maintaining business interests around the world. Trump herself has remained silent on the case but the US state department did call for the activists to be released.

Chinas foreign ministry quickly rebuffed the US, saying, other countries have no right to interfere. The men, Hua Haifeng, Li Zhao and Su Heng, have been arrested on suspicion of illegal use of eavesdropping and secret photography equipment after they went undercover in factories making products for international fashion brands.

In the wake of the arrests, Huas wife has been interrogated by police and his lawyer has been told by the authorities not to speak to the media.

After the three men were arrested, the brand waited a week before releasing its only public statement, defending working standards and saying: Ivanka Trump brand products have not been produced at the factory in question since March.

But a 14 April production table from the factory in Ganzhou in southeast China show nearly 1,000 shoes were slated to be manufactured between 23 and 25 May. The order was set to be delivered by 30 May. Material for clothing and shoes is typically ordered months in advance.

In response to questions from the Guardian, Ivanka Trumps brand did not refute the information contained in the production tables.

Ivanka Trump HQ is committed to only working with licensees who maintain internationally recognised labor standards across their supply chains, Abigail Klem, president of Ivanka Trump, said in a statement. Our licensees and their manufacturers, subcontractors and suppliers must comply with all applicable local and international labor laws, and the legal and ethical practices set forth in our vendor code of conduct.

Klem did not respond to questions about previous statements contradicted by factory productions tables. She also declined to respond to questions about how the brand ensures standards are maintained or about the fate of the three arrested labour activists.

Marc Fisher, the company that licenses the Ivanka Trump brand to make shoes, declined to comment. The factory in Ganzhou, owned by Huajian Group, also declined to comment on the production timetables or arrested activists.

Ivanka Trump no longer leads the business that bears her name, turning over day to day operations to Kelm, but the first daughter maintains an ownership stake.

The three detained activists, who worked for New York-based NGO China Labor Watch, were preparing to release a report that showed a host a labor violations at the factory, which also makes shoes for brands such as Coach, Karl Lagerfeld and Kendall + Kylie.

Those abuses include paying below Chinas legal minimum wage, managers verbally abusing workers and violations of womens rights.

The arrests were the first for China Labor Watch in its 17 years of investigating labour conditions in factories across China, including companies like Apple and Samsung.

But the Chinese government has launched a wide-ranging crackdown on civil society since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, and foreign NGOs have also come under increased scrutiny. A new law requires them to register with police and find local NGOs as partners, with many Chinese organisations wary over political repercussions.

The three arrested activists ties to the New York-based NGO may now complicate their cases. Police have accused the men of giving information to foreign organisations with the goal of receiving payment, according to local news reports.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/21/ivanka-trump-shoes-slated-for-production-at-china-factory-despite-brands-denial