Labor rights groups on Monday accused the world's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, of turning a blind eye to abusive conditions at a factory in China that makes plastic toys for the company. \nThe National Labor Committee and China Labor Watch said in a report that workers at the factory in Chang Ping Township in Guangdong Province were paid less than the legal minimum and worked longer hours than legally allowed. \nA Wal-Mart spokesman said he was not aware of the specific allegations but that the company worked to ensure factories all over the world were run legally and inspected for abuses. \nThe report said the Chinese factory management trained workers to answer prepared questions and paid them a bonus for remembering them correctly during visits by Wal-Mart inspectors. \nIt said emergency fire exits and medical boxes were normally locked, but the Chinese managers unlocked them ahead of inspections. They also doctored time cards, the report said. \nThe rights groups said Wal-Mart appeared to condone the Chinese management's methods. \n"No company could be that shallow or gullible, unless it were consciously acting out a role with the full intent of achieving the desired result -- a whitewash," the report said. \nBill Wertz, a spokesman for Bentonville, Arkansas-based company, said Wal-Mart had experienced inspectors who adhered to its corporate standards. \n"It would be a complete violation of our policy for anyone to participate in any charade that would merely make a pretense of observing a thorough inspection," Wertz said. \nThe rights groups said workers received an average US$16.5 an hour when the legal minimum in China was US$0.31 an hour. The workweek was seven days when five days was legal and people toiled for up to 20-1/2 hours per shift. \nThe groups said the same He Yi Electronics and Plastics Products Factory produced "bobblehead" sports star dolls for America's major professional sports organizations through US company Fotoball. \nCharles Kernaghan, head of the National Labor Committee, said the sports organizations -- including the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Collegiate Athletic Association -- had not responded to his letters. \n"We're hitting a stone wall with these people, which is sort of amazing, given their profits and the salaries ... the players won't be happy that their images are being made by workers in China with zero rights," said Kernaghan, who revealed in October that a sweatshop in Honduras made the clothing line of hip-hop music and fashion entrepreneur Sean Combs.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.
Taiwanese-independence advocates yesterday accused former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate after his statement that “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.” Ma showed his true colors “as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party” in his speech on Monday when he said the “first battle will be the last,” Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵) said. “Ma is threatening Taiwanese by claiming that Beijing will launch a quick invasion of Taiwan, but that the US military will have no