British supermarket giant Tesco suspends Chinese Christmas cards supplier over forced labor report

Following a press report of a Chinese supplier of its Chinese supplier of Christmas cards employing foreign prisoners in forced labor camps, British supermarket giant Tesco suspended its contract with the Chinese supplier.

“We abhor the use of prison labor and would never allow it in our supply chain,” said Tesco’s spokesman. “We were shocked by these allegations and immediately suspended the factory where these cards are produced and launched an investigation. We have also withdrawn these cards from sale whilst we investigate.”

According to the Sunday Times, a message inside the card read: “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu Prison China. Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organization. Use the link to contact Mr Peter Humphrey.”

Peter Humphrey is a British corporate fraud investigator and a former journalist.

In 2014, Humphrey and his American wife Yu Yingzeng, were both sentenced in China for illegally obtaining private records of Chinese citizens and selling it to clients including drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.

In June 2015, they were deported from China after their jail terms were reduced.

The message written inside the card was found by Florence Widdicombe, a 6-year-old girl, in London. Her father Ben Widdicombe contacted Humphrey via the LinkedIn.

Florence Widdicombe told the BBC, she was “shocked” to see the message in the card.

“We opened them about a week ago and we were writing in them, and on about my sixth or eighth card, somebody had already written in it,” said Florence Widdicombe to the BBC TV.

Initially, her father though the note to be a prank, but soon he realised that this was potentially a serious matter and he felt responsible to pass on the written message to Peter Humphrey, as requested in the card.

The Christmas cards were produced at the Zheijiang Yunguang Printing factory, which is about 100 km (60 miles) from Shanghai Qingpu prison, said Tesco.

Tesco has clarified that it had a comprehensive auditing process in place.

“This supplier was independently audited as recently as last month and no evidence was found to suggest they had broken our rule banning the use of prison labor,” said Tesco’s spokesman. “If a supplier breaches these rules, we will immediately and permanently de-list them.”

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