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Beijing Olympic Committee to Probe Worker Abuse

The organizing committee of next year's Olympics in Beijing says it is investigating allegations that some official merchandise for the games was made abusing workers and using child labor. An official of the committee said in Hong Kong that companies found to be violating labor rules would lose their contracts. Claudia Blume reports from VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong.

Playfair, an alliance of global trade unions and labor groups, released a report Sunday accusing several Chinese companies that produce licensed merchandise for the 2008 Olympics of severely violating workers' rights.

The group said it investigated four factories in southern China and found they used child labor and violated minimum wage rules to produce items such as bags, caps and stationery for the Olympics. The factories cited in the report deny the claims.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong, Beijing said his organization takes the allegations very seriously and will investigate the issue.

"We have very specific and clear requirements, rules and regulations to manage these manufacturers," said Jiang. "If they breach our regulations, then we will tackle these problems very seriously. If there are serious breaches of these regulations then they will no longer work as our manufacturer."

The Beijing office of the Olympic Committee also released a statement reinforcing that position.

Asked about U.S. and European efforts to link the Beijing Olympics with Chinese policy in Sudan's Darfur region, Jiang said politics has no place in the Olympics.

"I think the practice to politicize the Olympic games is against the spirit of the Olympic charter," he said.

Jiang also said he hoped Taiwan would put politics aside and allow the Olympic torch relay to be passed through the island next year - an offer Taipei has rejected.

Jiang said preparations for next year's Olympics are on track. He said the 37 competitive venues, other facilities and infrastructure developments will all be completed on time. Most of the venues are in Beijing, while sailing events will be held in the coastal city of Qingdao and equestrian competitions in Hong Kong.

Jiang said the committee would work on improving the air quality in Beijing before the games and on improving, what he called, 'people's etiquette' in the capital. This includes, he said, teaching people proper behavior in the stadiums.