A man investigating working conditions at a Chinese company that produces Ivanka Trump-brand shoes has been arrested and two others are missing, the arrested man's wife and an advocacy group said Tuesday. Hua Haifeng was accused of illegal surveillance, according to his wife, Deng Guilian. Deng said police told her she didn't need to know the details, only that she would not be able to see, speak with, or receive money from her husband. China Labor Watch Executive Director Li Qiang said he lost contact with Hua Haifeng and the other two men, Li Zhao and Su Heng, over the weekend. "They must be held either by the factory or the police to be unreachable," he told the AP.
China Labor Watch, a New York-based nonprofit, was planning to publish a report next month alleging low pay, excessive overtime, and the possible misuse of student interns. It is unclear whether the undercover investigative methods used by the advocacy group are legal in China. Li said his work has never before attracted this level of scrutiny from China's state security apparatus. One difference is the target of China Labor Watch's investigation: a brand owned by the daughter of the US president. A representative of the brand said it requires licensees and their manufacturers to "comply with all applicable laws and to maintain acceptable working conditions." A spokesperson for Huajian Group said the company makes 10,000 to 20,000 pairs of shoes a year for Ivanka Trump's brand.