Men probing Ivanka Trump brand in China arrested, missing

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Hua Haifeng, Li Zhao and Su Heng, working undercover under the direction of New York-based China Labor Watch at a factory operated by shoe manufacturer Huajian Group in the south-east province of Jiangxi, have been unreachable by phone over the weekend, said Li Qiang, the founder of the advocacy group.

"This never happened before in my 17 years' of experience".

A Chinese activist investigating a company that manufactures shoes for Ivanka Trump's label and other Western brands has been detained by police in China, and two of his colleagues remain unaccounted for.

The activist, Hua Haifeng, who was working on behalf of the advocacy group China Labor Watch, was detained on suspicion of illegal eavesdropping, his wife, Deng Guimian, said late Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Marc Fisher Footwear, which licenses the Ivanka Trump brand for shoes, said the firm was unaware of the allegations and would look into them immediately. She and her father both have extensive trademark portfolios in China, though neither has managed to build up a large retail or real estate presence here.

"Activists exposing potential human rights abuses deserve protection, not persecution", said William Nee, the group's China researcher. We'll have to wait and see, he added, "to what extent business is trumping any kind of consideration of the diplomatic capital of the promoting human rights, labor rights and democracy". Ivanka Trump is the daughter of the president and an adviser to him, and she has a direct financial interest in having her businesses maintain an upstanding reputation.

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The Ivanka Trump brand declined to comment while the White House and Ivanka Trump's lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Two other shoe brands under the company's umbrella - Marc Fisher and Kylie + Kendall - were also being made at the Huaijian factories, according to China Labor Watch.

They discovered that employees were required to work overtime while being paid less than the minimum wage, according to Li, who alleged that the factory issued fake pay slips that showed wages greater than the workers' actual compensation. "Jiangxi police are just looking for an excuse", he said.

Police said they believed alcohol was a contributing factor in the crash.

State police said Skeens, of Farmland, Indiana, and front-seat passenger Jordan were arguing when he punched her and grabbed the steering wheel. "I said Papa would come home soon and buy you toys".

The detention and disappearances of the activists were first reported by The Associated Press.

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