TODAY   |  June 26, 2013

CEO hostage: ‘I’m disappointed’ in Chinese government

American CEO Chip Starnes remains closely monitored by his Chinese captors this morning forced to stay shut in his office as workers hold him hostage. NBC’s Eunice Yoon reports and Starnes speaks to TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> thanks. new information this morning on a story we first brought you on tuesday. an american ceo being held captive by workers at his medical supply plant in beijing . we'll talk to him in a moment. but first, eunice is in beijing with more. good morning to you.

>> good morning savannah. behind me chip starnes is held captive at his factory. they're negotiating a deal with the workers so he can get out of there and go home.

>> reporter: american ceo chip starnes is closely monitored by his chinese captors this morning. his workers are holding him here. concerned his decision to move some of the plant to india means they will lose out on pay.

>> i can see other departments move.

>> reporter: on day 6 of the standoff, the 42-year-old boss is trying to make light of an unexpected ordeal.

>> i got to shave today. i was given an electric razor. so feeling pretty good today. i decided i'm going to stick with the blue shirt all the way through. sort of like my little slogan thing.

>> reporter: back home in florida, his wife is anxiously awaiting his return.

>> i just want him home. his kids want him home. every day we do get to talk to him but it's very upsetting.

>> reporter: local officials are here, though mainly to bring starnes food and water rather than intervene.

>> he doesn't want to talk about it but this is the man that delivers him lunch every single day. in the morning he says he gives him mcdonald's and kfc and for lunch he gets rice and chinese food .

>> what more would you want to see from the u.s. government .

>> believe it or not they have been in contact with me, greatly appreciate it. however, we in another country. we're in china.

>> reporter: and in china, workers have lilly gal protection and when pushed can resort to violence. but until a deal is made, this american factory boss will stay pinned in.

>> and workers that we spoke to said they just want their fair share of pay but starnes says he already paid them everything they're owed. savannah.

>>> eunice, thank you. chip starnes is with us from the office where he is being held captive. mr. starnes, good morning to you. how are you.

>> good morning to you. i wish i was there with you guys. doing okay. just, you know, starting to get used to the camping thing here.

>> well, you have your sense of humor about you which is good but a lot of folks watching at home don't understand how something like this could be happening. have you called the local authorities ? have they refused to help you get out of that factory.

>> yeah, you know, they do things a little different over here. the local authorities kind of -- they treat it as a civil issue and i guess it's, you know, it's a factory dispute and it's sort of made up monetary and they really are hands off. they let the workers themselves handle it inside here.

>> but being held against your will i would think would be a criminal issue in any country, no?

>> no, i agree 1,000%. i'm a little disappointed that the local government and being so close to beijing hasn't come in and done something especially for this period of time going on, i think it was my 5th night last night. going to hit 6 last night. i'm still in negotiations to come to a settlement. yes, it's very disappointing and saddening at the same time, really.

>> let me ask you this, your family is back here in the u.s. have you reached out to our state department ? to american officials in china to get them to help at all?

>> yes. you know, i am in touch with the u.s. embassy . they have been working with calling all around. all the way up to the senators to the u.s. they're really limited on what they can do because they treat this type of -- they say monetary issue -- a little different. it's up to the factory workers and me, i guess, as an owner to fix the situation which is what we're trying to do right now.

>> what are the conditions you're being held in? are you getting the base ix in terms of food, water and ability to shower and use the bathroom?

>> yeah. luckily when i built the facility a couple of years ago i put a bathroom and shower in here. yeah, i'm getting food and water now t. first day itself was a little rough. the first 20 to 22 hours but after that the local government came in and since that they started bringing breakfast lunch and dinner meals consistently ever since then. so that's been okay.

>> one of the confounding things about this is you're able to talk to us right now. reporters have been permitted on the grounds. you've done interviews with them. we have shown some of the interviews. what do you think would happen if you just walked out the door.

>> well, you know, i tried the other day and they all pretty much lock arms together and won't let me go. you would also see on the inside here that, you know, when they were doing the interviews earlier that they're very aggressive. they only let you go so far around the factory and et cetera . i did try to leave the other day. i said i at least have to attempt. being told and not trying are two different things. i tried and tried to go over the gate but they would not let me go. i think i'm here to stay. it's a real issue. sometimes it feels like it's a movie. it's surreal but it's real and it's something i really have to hit head on and address.

>> well, we wish you the best of luck and we continue to watch this. i wonder if you're willing to try something with us while our cameras are rolling right now. we'll zoom out. would you be able to walk out now? the workers knowing that you're on camera right now on national television in america?

>> yeah, that would be kind of interesting wouldn't it? i would like to try to do that and i appreciate that offer except i have government officials inside here and my attorneys are in here right now and we're very close to settling something so i don't want to disrupt the employees and the staff that's in here right now. but if we go another day or move into the weekend you bet your bottom dollar i'll take that offer from you.

>> best of luck to you. thanks for speaking with us this morning.

>> thank you.