'There's a Dirty Underside to Doing Business in China:' Starnes
Forty-two-year-old American businessman Chip Starnes arrived at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, on Thursday evening, ending seven days of captivity in a Chinese factory. CNBC met him at the airport for an exclusive interview.
"There is a dirty underside to doing business in China, there's no doubt about that and I don't think that's a secret either," Starnes said at the airport but added that, "going back to China is a must. We've got millions of dollars in equipment there, large investments there, we've got to see it through."
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Starnes, president of Florida-based Specialty Medical Supplies, was released after a pay dispute was settled with workers at the company's plant in the Beijing suburb of Huairou where he was held captive.
Starnes described the last night of negotiations as chaotic.
"The way it went about was just as chaotic as it was the first night last Friday [June 21] . Hundreds of people - family and friends- people smoking everywhere, I don't know what's going on, I'm just saying okay, whatever."
After settling the dispute, local officials placed Starnes in a car to head back to his hotel. Starnes later told CNBC that he switched cars and headed for the airport, accompanied by his lawyers.
Chu Lixian, head of the rights and interests department of the Huairou District Labor Union confirmed that the dispute had been resolved, Reuters reported.
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"I tried to downplay it over on the China side but I'm really, really extremely upset that the government, nobody really stepped in to help or do anything to solve the situation. I felt like I was an animal in a zoo," Starnes said upon touching down in the U.S.
When asked what his next move was, Starnes replied that he would be back in the office on Friday. "We're supposed to be signing new contracts with people who want to come back and work [at the plant in China].The new ones that worked there previously, they have already been paid a severance package and the new contracts will outline that if something were to happen, they would not be paid a second severance package."
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On Wednesday, Starnes - who has done business in Beijing for the last 20 years - told CNBC that he was being forced to pay severance packages to people who still have jobs at the plant.
— Reported by Brad Quick and written by Nyshka Chandran.