Activists investigating Ivanka Trump’s China shoe factory detained or missing

Workers at the Huajian shoe factory, where about 100,000 pairs of Ivanka Trump-branded shoes have been made over the years among other brands. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

A labour activist working undercover investigating abuses at a Chinese factory that makes Ivanka Trump shoes has been detained by police and two others are missing, raising concerns the company’s ties to the US president’s family may have led to harsher treatment.

Hua Haifeng was being held by police on suspicion of illegal surveillance, his wife Deng Guilian said. Hua had worked for labour rights organisations for more than a decade and was investigating a factory in southern Guangdong province for New York-based rights group China Labor Watch.

Hua, 36, attempted to travel to Hong Kong last week but was stopped at the border. He was later questioned by police in Shenzhen, a city on the border with Hong Kong, and was released. He then traveled to Jiangxi province and disappeared, before his wife was notified by police.

“I was scared when the police called me, I was shaking with a mix of fear and anger,” Deng told the Guardian, adding she was worried she would be unable to support their two young children as well as three elderly relatives without his income.

The case highlights the political sensitivity of a brand associated with the family of Donald Trump, who repeatedly bashed China for taking American jobs on the campaign trail but has since cosied up to president Xi Jinping.

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 US green cards in return.

Two other men, Li Zhao and Su Heng, had investigated a factory in Jiangxi province that assembles Ivanka Trump shoes and were still missing on Wednesday, said Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch. He believes they have been detained by police or are being held at the factory.

“I think they were detained because this factory makes products for Ivanka Trump, so now this situation has become political and very complicated,” said Li. “I appeal to President Trump, Ivanka Trump herself, and to her brand to advocate and press for the release our activists.”

The undercover activists were to allege a host of labour violations at the plant, Li said, including paying below China’s legal minimum wage, managers verbally abusing workers and “violations of women’s rights”.

Li said he contacted the Ivanka Trump brand on April 27 to inform them of the labour violations, and urged them to ensure their suppliers were complying with Chinese law, but no changes were made.

The Ivanka Trump brand declined to comment when contacted by the Guardian. A woman who answered the phone at the Ganzhou, Jiangxi public security bureau said only, “I’m busy now,” before hanging up.

Calls to Huajian Group, the owner of the factory, went unanswered and staff at the factory where the three activists had gone undercover said they were not aware of the case.

Huajian also manufactures products for Coach, Karl Lagerfeld and Kendall + Kylie at the factory where the activists went undercover.

Read the complete article on The Guardian newspaper website.


The behind-the-scenes complicity of Ivanka Trump

Ivanka and daddy Donald.

Until Ivanka Trump’s interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning which aired this past Wednesday, it was unclear what Ms. Trump’s role in the White House actually involves, other than possession of a top-level security clearance, attendance at multiple high-level meetings and the occupation of a coveted West Wing office.

Now, at least we know that a large part of Ms. Trump’s position is, as she presents it, the White House’s “Oh, Dad!”-er In Chief.

“I speak up frequently. And my father agrees with me on so many issues. And where he doesn’t, he knows where I stand,” Ms. Trump assured Ms. King.

“Can you give us – ” Ms. King said.

“It’s not my administration,” Ms. Trump responded, all but adding an “I just work here.”

Specifics, it seems, are for little people.

Ms. King’s curiosity in this matter is understandable. Throughout the election and beyond, Ivanka Trump was bandied about as Team Trump’s token-but-highly-influential moderate, a lady moderate, no less. Ms. Trump was, we were to understand, the modern young woman who made it okay to vote for the guy who boasted of being able to “Grab ’em by the pussy.”

It was insinuated, often by Ivanka herself, that she would, in some behind-the-scenes old-fashioned daughterly way, keep her dad in line, at least as far as it came to issues such as women’s health care.

“Do not be alarmed by Mr. Trump’s plan to defund Planned Parenthood and his apparent openness to penalizing women who choose to have an abortion,” Americans were essentially told. “This man is not American Ceausescu. For he has a girl-child! A New York girl-child!” But, months in, it is difficult – in all the actions, failed actions and in the stated agenda of Donald Trump’s team – to find a shred of a policy that might conceivably have been influenced by the kind of character Ivanka Trump has been attempting to play.

What is increasingly clear about most of the Trump family members is that even though they are collectively attempting to run the United States now, they seem to share an expectation that the media will continue to write the same kind of puff-piece, brand-promoting, semi-fawning stories about them as they have mostly seen go to print – only now there should be more of them.

The assumption seems to have been that, having achieved office, an entire library of in-flight magazine prose should be devoted to the Trumps. Even remotely hardball questions are characterized by the family and their supporters as way out of bounds.

“I put it into trust. I have independent trustees,” Ms. Trump said waspishly when asked the should-have-seen-it-coming-like-a big-soft-beach-ball question about the current status of her business.

That would be the same business that issued an e-mail Style Alert drawing reporters’ attention to the sight of “Ivanka Trump wearing her favourite bangle from the Metropolis Collection on 60 Minutes,” brazenly hawking a $10,800 (U.S.) diamond bracelet.

“But the trustees are family members, right? Your brother-in-law and your sister-in-law?” said Ms. King, on behalf of sentient life everywhere.

“They are,” Ms. Trump said, “But they’re completely independent. And I’m transparent about that.”

Well, thanks, Ms. Trump, that didn’t even attempt the smell test.

Is Ivanka trying to tell us that she acknowledges that her family members are in fact members of her family? Are we meant to be impressed by this remarkable display of honesty? (Although, to be fair, I’m not sure I’d cop to Eric.)

“I’d like the perks of power, hold the accountability,” is the gist of all Trump family communications.

Read the other half of the complete article by Tabatha Southey on the Globe and Mail newspaper web site.

Nordstrom cuts Ivanka Trump fashions

President Trump and his daughter Ivanka walk to board Marine One at the White House on Feb. 1, 2017. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump and his daughter Ivanka walk to board Marine One at the White House on Feb. 1, 2017. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Nordstrom will stop selling Ivanka Trump’s name-branded line of clothing and shoes, a company representative said Thursday.

The change followed a weeks-long boycott campaign, organized by an anti-Trump activist group called “Grab Your Wallet.” The group demanded the department-store giant cease doing business with the president or his family.

In a statement, the Nordstrom representative said that Ivanka Trump products were being dropped because of poor sales. Its statement did not mention the group’s boycott effort.

“Each year we cut about 10% [of brands] and refresh our assortment with about the same amount,” the statement said. “In this case, based on the brand’s performance we’ve decided not to buy it for this season.”

Shannon Coulter, who helps run Grab Your Wallet, said that number is down sharply from early December, when Nordstrom had 71 Ivanka Trump items for sale.

She celebrated Nordstrom’s decision as a milestone for the campaign, which began in October after The Washington Post obtained a video from 2005 that showed Donald Trump bragging about groping women during a taping of “Access Hollywood.” In that video, Trump boasted that he could “grab them by the p—y,” using a vulgar term for a woman’s genitals.

The “Grab Your Wallet” campaign has now targeted more than 60 companies — a group that includes Trump’s golf courses and hotels, those that sell Trump-branded goods, and other businesses whose leaders endorsed Trump or donated to his campaign.

Read the complete article on The Washington Post newspaper site here.

Please daddy, don’t put me out of business

 Ivanka Trump items for sale at Saks Off Fifth in New York. Much of her company’s clothing line is manufactured overseas. Credit Danny Ghitis for The New York Times

Ivanka Trump items for sale at Saks Off Fifth in New York. Much of her company’s clothing line is manufactured overseas. Credit Danny Ghitis for The New York Times

If President-elect Donald Trump makes good on his promise to impose high tariffs on companies that don’t move production to the U.S., he stands to damage his daughter Ivanka’s clothing and fashion business.

At Saks Off Fifth recently, an Ivanka Trump white polyester and spandex blouse made in Indonesia was marked down to $34.99, from $69. A few racks over, her black and white jacket came from Vietnam, while several blocks away, at Macy’s, her leather bootee manufactured in China sold for more than $100.

At the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, a $35 blue cotton cap embroidered with “Trump National Golf Club” was made in Bangladesh. A Trump Tower hoodie from Pakistan set tourists back $50.

Apparantly Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump don’t mind profiting from offshore manufacturing. I guess it was just too expensive to buy American and “Make America Great Again”.

Ivanka is no stranger to promoting her offshore produced products. In July, Ms. Trump wore a dress from her own collection to introduce her father at the Republican National Convention (she also wore her own brand shoes and jewelry). The next day, her company tweeted out a picture of her from the podium with the words “Shop Ivanka’s look from her #RNC speech” and a link to the Macy’s website, where a similar style from the brand was offered. The $138 dress reportedly sold out in a day.

Ivanka, Tiffany Trump and the appeal of a dynastic campaign


The Donald Trump dynasty may begin soon.

MARSHALLED on stage at the climax of a debate or rally, the Trump family can seem otherworldly, even faintly sinister. In contrast to the everyman image many politicians try to project—the guy like you, with whom you might enjoy a beer—the Republican nominee’s clan is impossibly well-clad and -coiffed. That collective image is of a piece with the paterfamilias’s implicit promise: not so much to represent the nation as to redeem it, like some baggy-suited Superman. An event on October 26th in Marietta, Georgia, which featured Ivanka Trump and her less-deployed sister Tiffany, exemplified his offsprings’ role in his appeal and his campaign.

“I love the entire family,” said Paulette, an African-American Trump fan, in the crowded, airless room inside. The Trump children were “honourable, respectful, well-educated, honest.” If they seemed remote, that was because “Donald Trump and his wives have invested a lot in them.” As for Ivanka: “I adore her.” (She wasn’t bothered by the gruesome tape: “I have five brothers and I know how men talk.”) That view of the elder Trump sister was widespread. “She represents smart women who know the issues,” said another female attendee.

The crowd broke out the now-familiar chants of “Hillary for prison”, “Lock her up”, and “We are deplorable”, interspersed with the odd rebel yell. Herman Cain, the warm-up act, delivered the standard denunciation of the media (liars) and the polls (rigged), before introducing Ivanka and Tiffany. Ivanka spoke only briefly, not mentioning the ideas for childcare credits and maternity leave that have bolstered her father’s pitch to women. Tiffany was even briefer. The crowd didn’t seem to mind. “You’re amazing,” a devotee yelled; “We love you” shouted another. Then the Trumps got down to the serious business of the afternoon, namely posing for their supporters’ selfies, before moving on to a meeting with local businesswomen.

Read the complete article on The Economist web site here.