Multinational UK-based groceries and merchandise retailer Tesco has suspended production at a Chinese factory after a customer has reportedly found a message written by a victim of forced labor. “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 We have also withdrawn these cards from sale whilst we investigate,” said a Tesco spokesperson on Sunday, December 22.
According to Tesco, the cards were produced at the Zheijiang Yunguang Printing factory located about 60 miles (96.56 kilometers) from Shanghai Qinpu Prison. The company prints cards and books for food and pharmaceutical companies and it is also a supplier for Tesco.
Little girl makes discovery
Six-year-old Florence Widdicombe who found the message from Shanghai prisoners hidden in a box of Tesco Christmas cards wasn’t aware of the hidden message until a week after purchasing them. “We didn’t open them on the day we got them. We opened them about a week ago. And on about my seventh or eighth card, somebody had already written in it,” Widdicombe has said.
Her father, Ben elaborated on what was written on the card, saying that the author meant for the message to be passed on to Peter Humphrey. “The card said that the author was a part of a group of prisoners that is being imprisoned in Shanghai. They were forced to work against their will. ‘Please could human organisations be made aware and specifically could be passed on to Peter Humphry’,” Ben has said.
Who was the message intended for?
Peter Humphrey is a British former journalist and corporate fraud investigator who had been imprisoned, along with his American wife Yu Yingzeng, in China. Humphrey is confident that he knows the author of the message but says he will not reveal their identity. “I’m pretty sure that this was written as a collective message, obviously by one single hand, which is capital letters handwriting, and I think I know who it was but I would never disclose that,” Humphrey said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
In July 2013, Humphrey and his wife were accused of “illegally acquiring personal information” of Chinese nationals. They were incarcerated for almost two years and released in 2015 after mounting pressure from the British government.
Humphrey had initially been hired to investigate an alleged smear campaign against pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which involved a sex tape of the company’s then China boss. He is the founder of ChinaWhys, a risk management consultancy in China handling fraud prevention cases for corporate clients. The company was reportedly shut down by Shanghai police in 2013.
Have a tip or story? Get in touch with our reporters at [email protected]