Rachel Lu

Widespread Fighting Erupts at Foxconn Factory, Possibly Spurred by iPhone 5 Demand

Via Weibo

Foxconn, Apple’s largest contractor, suffered another blow to its international image on September 24 when more than 2,000 workers at its Taiyuan factory in Shanxi Province got involved in a massive fight. More than 40 were reportedly injured and 10 were killed. 

The details of how the fighting began are sketchy, but most accounts point to a tiff between a security guard and a worker who may not have had the right ID. On Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, the Sina Technology Channel (@新浪科技) tweeted, “A large number of workers were moved to Taiyuan to make iPhone 5 in a rush. The security personnel at the factory had a fight with a worker from Shandong Province, dragged him to a van and beat him up. The victim’s co-workers from Shandong sought revenge, and workers from Henan Province became involved too, and the situation devolved into chaos where workers chased down security guards and beat them up.” {{1}}[[1]]为了制造iPhone 5,大批工人被调往太原赶工。厂区安保人员与山东籍员工起冲突,将其拖至面包车内殴打,山东同乡为其讨还公道,河南籍员工也一起卷入,最后发展至大批员工追打安保人员的混乱场面。[[1]]

Foxconn’s factories in China have had a series of labor troubles, which include ham-handed responses to labor shortages. Tea Leaf Nation was among the first English-language outlets to report on one Foxconn factory’s move to bus in “interns” from a local university when personnel ran low.

Perhaps because of Foxconn’s history, many netizens seem inclined to believe the version of the story that security guards abused their powers against workers. @张毅伟yy tweets, “Foxconn has long oppressed its workers, and where there is oppression there is resistance. Resisting is better than committing suicide. More than twenty security guards beat up four workers–that’s pretty rare among Chinese companies.” {{2}}[[2]]富士康对员工的压迫由来已久,还是哪里有压迫哪里就有反抗,反抗比自杀好,二十多名保安围殴四名员工,在中国企业中屈指可数吧。[[2]] @神行者POLO tweets, “Foxconn is such an eventful place. Apple products are filled with Chinese worker’s tears.” {{3}}[[3]]富士康真是多秋之地。苹果含了多少中国工人的泪水。[[3]] @猫爪子tt asked, “Do they have unions?” {{4}}[[4]]工会有吗? [[4]]

@cuanyu的空间 tweets with a hint of disapproval at foreign coverage of the incident: “Something huge happened at the Foxconn factory in Taiyuan yesterday, but I have not seen a report anywhere. I only found out after reading it on Engagdet, but they only cared about what parts are made at the factory and which products would be affected.” {{5}}[[5]]太原富士康昨天发生这么大事情,哪里都没有看到报道,还是在engadget上看到了才知道。不过他们关心的是这个厂生产什么部件,推测什么产品会受到影响。[[5]] Initial domestic coverage, however, was confined to the Weibo rumor mills. Searches for the term “Foxconn conflict” (富士康冲突) were and remain blocked, and users this morning issued widespread complaints about having related tweets deleted.

Caijing Magazine (@财经网) sought to place the matter in a larger frame: “The living costs of the society is soaring beyond that of the U.K. and the U.S., and the large population of poor young workers are plunged into hopelessness about their futures. If this problem is not faced or not resolved, and no social mobility is provided to this generation of poor workers, there will be no peace in Chinese society in the future. Good night.” {{6}}[[6]] 整体社会生活成本快速升高超英赶美,使庞大的”穷二代”群体益发陷入前途无望的精神困境。这个问题不正视,不从根本上缓解,不给这代“新贫困者”出路,未来中国社会,无安。晚安。[[6]]


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Rachel Lu

Rachel Lu is a co-founder of Tea Leaf Nation. Rachel traces her ancestry to Southern China. She spent much of her childhood memorizing Chinese poetry. After long stints in New York, New Haven and Cambridge, she has returned to China to bear witness to its great transformation. She is currently based in China.