China has denied accusations of forced labour at a prison in Shanghai after a Christmas card sold at Tesco was reportedly found containing a message from an inmate.
Six-year-old Florence Widdicombe in London discovered a note in charity card sold at the supermarket saying “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu Prison China”.
The card urged the finder to contact Peter Humphrey, the former UK journalist who was imprisoned in the jail between 2014 and 2015, the Sunday Times reported.
Tesco suspended the Chinese supplier of the cards yesterday following the discovery.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a press briefing today: “I can responsibly say… Shanghai’s Qingpu prison does not have this issue of foreign prisoners being forced to work.”
Shuang said the card was a “farce created by Mr Humphrey”.
However, Humphrey denied the allegations and said the message fitted with “everything I know and I have spoken with ex-prisoners who were released this year and who confirmed that prison unit was making packaging for Tesco Christmas cards.”
Read more: China to cut tariffs on hundreds of products
The cards were produced at the Zheijiang Yunguang Printing factory, which is about 60 miles from Shanghai Qingpu prison.
“We abhor the use of prison labour and would never allow it in our supply chain,” a Tesco spokesperson said on Sunday.
“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 We have also withdrawn these cards from sale whilst we investigate.”