This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.

6-Year-Old Finds Foreign Prisoner’s Plea From China In Christmas Card

Beijing denies the forced labour claim as a U.K. chain investigates.

BEIJING — China denied accusations of forced labour at a Shanghai prison on Monday, a day after media reports claimed a young girl had found a message in a Christmas card saying it had been packed by inmates.

The U.K. Sunday Times newspaper said the message in the charity card sold by British supermarket giant Tesco read: “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu Prison China. Forced to work against our will.”

It said the message urged whoever received it to contact Peter Humphrey, a British former journalist and corporate fraud investigator who was imprisoned in the same jail from 2014 to 2015.

Tesco suspended the Chinese supplier of the Christmas cards on Sunday and said it had launched an investigation.

Six-year-old Florence Widdicombe poses Sunday in London with a Tesco Christmas card from the same pack as a card she found containing a message believed to be from a prisoner in China.
Six-year-old Florence Widdicombe poses Sunday in London with a Tesco Christmas card from the same pack as a card she found containing a message believed to be from a prisoner in China.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, told a news briefing: “I can responsibly say, according to the relevant organs, Shanghai’s Qingpu prison does not have this issue of foreign prisoners being forced to work.”

He dismissed the whole story as “a farce created by Mr. Humphrey.”

Humphrey did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the ministry’s statement.

Humphrey spent 23 months in prison on charges of illegally obtaining private records of Chinese citizens and selling the information to clients including drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.

The Sunday Times said the message had been found by six-year-old Florence Widdicombe, who showed it to her father. He then contacted Humphrey via LinkedIn.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Humphrey said he did not know the identities or the nationalities of the prisoners, but he “had no doubt they are Qingpu prisoners who knew me before my release in June 2015.”

Humphrey said during his trial he had not thought his activities in China were illegal.

Suggest a correction
This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada. Certain site features have been disabled. If you have questions or concerns, please check our FAQ or contact support@huffpost.com.