China refutes forced foreign labor claims at Shanghai prison

By GT staff reporters Source:Global Times Published: 2019/12/23 20:18:41 Last Updated: 2019/12/24 0:21:26

Christmas card firm 'never had links with prison'

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang answers questions at a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Beijing. Photo: IC

Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday refuted British media reports that claim foreign prisoners were used as forced laborers at Shanghai Qingpu Prison, saying the claim was a farce created by a former British journalist who served a prison term in China. 

Chinese observers stated the report was a typical tactic of Western media outlets attempting to defame China's human rights record amid China's growing international influence. 

The former British journalist Peter Humphrey, who is unable to bear life outside of the spotlight in fears people will forget him, has occasionally sought self-promotion, but this time the farce he created is obsolete, Geng Shuang, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said during a routine press conference on Monday. 

Geng said foreign prisoners are not used as forced laborers at Shanghai Qingpu Prison, as claimed by Peter Humphrey who wrote a story for the Sunday Times. The story was soon picked up by other British media outlets. 

Humphrey was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in China in 2014 for illegally accessing private information of Chinese citizens, according to media reports.  

In their stories, British media claimed Tesco suspended production at Zhejiang Yunguang Printing after a Christmas card made by the Chinese company was sold in the UK containing a message that alleged Zhejiang Yunguang Printing had used foreign inmates in Shanghai Qingpu Prison to make the cards, according to the Guardian newspaper.

In response to these claims, Zhejiang Yunguang Printing on Monday blasted what it called unfounded accusations of using forced labor in production of the cards and called such claims politically motivated.

Lu Yunbiao, general manager of Zhejiang Yunguang Printing, told the Global Times that the company does not hire foreigners, and that 80 percent of their employees are Chinese from East China's Zhejiang Province.   

"We have never had any connection with any prison," the company said, adding that it reserves the rights to sue the relevant media. The company further noted that there are suspicions that the charges may be part of a politically motivated narrative to smear China's human rights record.

Tesco. Photo: AFP

A Tesco press officer on Monday told the Global Times that they have halted production last week and has conducted an investigation into the Chinese company. 

But general manager Lu said that the company has not heard from Tesco about production suspension, and the company has now asked customer service to follow up via communication regarding this matter.

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that the Western world led by the US and UK which brands themselves as global champions of human rights repeatedly points fingers at human rights issues of other nations while ignoring their own problems.

He believed the hyping up of the story regarding Qingpu prison is just another example of Western countries smearing China's human rights record following defamation on China's Xinjiang policy. 

Li said that Western nations fearing China's growing international influence have tried to undermine China's international image in every possible way without caring whether the reports were true or not, and there will be more of such cases in the future. 
Newspaper headline: FM refutes forced labor claim

Posted in: SOCIETY

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