The London-based multinational drugmaker, also known as GSK, supplies key products such as vaccines in China, as well as drugs for lung disease and cancer. In 2013, the company was targeted by Chinese authorities over alleged corruption, price-fixing and quality controls.
Son visits investigator Peter Humphrey and his wife in detention
The only child of corporate investigators Peter Humphrey and Yu Yingzeng has been allowed to visit his parents in their detention centre in Pudong, Shanghai.
Harvey Humphrey, 19, told the Sunday Morning Post that he visited his parents - who were arrested for conducting investigations for British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) - last Friday afternoon.
Harvey said: "It's a bit unusual for the Chinese to do this. I feel something has changed in the Chinese approach to my parents.
"The Chinese authorities chose to be humane. This is a good sign in future for foreigners who might be arrested in China."
Peter Humphrey, a British national, and Yu, a China-born US citizen, will be tried at the Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court on Friday. They are accused of illegally obtaining personal information of Chinese citizens.
This was the first visit by their son to the couple since they were detained in July last year.
Harvey, who is a student in the UK, said that a US consular official told him that this was the first time Chinese authorities had permitted a pretrial visit for relatives of foreigners in detention. However, an unnamed US lawyer said there had been other instances of detained foreigners receiving visitors.
Harvey said his visit had been arranged by a Chinese "high court", but did not specify which court.
"The British and US consulates have been lobbying hard for this [visit] to happen but they didn't think it would happen," Harvey said.
Peter Humphrey and Yu were informed by the US and UK consulates a few days ago that their son would visit them. "They didn't quite believe I was coming. They were quite overwhelmed. My mum was shocked. My dad held himself together," Harvey said.
Harvey met his parents separately. He saw his father for 50 minutes and his mother for 40 minutes in a meeting room at the detention centre, which houses foreigners who were detained in Shanghai but not yet convicted, he said.
Harvey said his mother "broke down" when they met.
"Their health is not good. I don't think they will get worse. They both lost a lot of weight," he said.
Daniel Roules, a Shanghai-based partner at Squire Sanders, a US law firm, said the case was unusual since most cases involving foreigners were about drug trafficking or illegal immigration, not data privacy.