Chinese authorities find no underage workers at Samsung supplier

Samsung has already temporarily suspended business with the supplier

Chinese authorities have so far found no underage workers at a local Samsung Electronics supplier accused of using "child labor," but have started a campaign to crack down on the illegal activity.

The supplier, Dongguan Shinyang Electronics, has been facing scrutiny after New York-based China Labor Watch said it found five underage workers at the factory. This prompted both Samsung and the Chinese city of Dongguan to investigate.

On Wednesday, however, Dongguan authorities said their preliminary investigation had found no use of child workers at the factory.

The results seem to counter Samsung's own investigation, which found evidence of the illegal hiring. On Monday, the South Korean company said it had decided to temporarily suspend business with the factory.

"If the investigations conclude that the supplier indeed hired children illegally, Samsung will permanently halt business with the supplier," the company said in a blog post.

Samsung has yet to release any further updates on the matter.

Chinese law prohibits factories from hiring workers under the age of 16. But manufacturers in the country often hire student workers as part of "internships" organized by local schools.

The supplier, Dongguan Shinyang Electronics, also uses this practice and employs recent high school graduates, according to China Labor Watch. The factory, however, failed to check the ages of the five underage workers, two of whom were aged 14, and three aged 15.

Dongguan Shinyang Electronics did not answer phone calls on Thursday.

In response to recent "disputes" relating to student workers, the city of Dongguan has launched an operation to stop illegal labor hiring. Many employers are aware of the regulations, but lax when it comes to verifying workers' ages, the city said in its Internet posting.

From April to June, Dongguan authorities audited 2,999 employers, covering over 580,000 workers. The investigations found 11 cases dealing with underage workers, the Internet posting said.

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