World: Violent protests at largest iPhone factory in China

Chinese government reportedly helps the world's biggest iPhone-maker fill in labor shortages by recruiting Communist Party members and veterans

  Chinese government reportedly helps the world's biggest iPhone-maker fill in labor shortages by recruiting Communist Party members and veterans The reported government-led hiring spree comes after hundreds of Foxconn workers fled the premises to avoid strict quarantine protocols.The move is reportedly part of a state-led effort to fill in the factory's labor shortage in the wake of a mass employee exodus over fears of strict COVID-related lockdowns.

Violent protests have broken out around Foxconn's vast iPhone factory in central China, as workers clashed with security personnel over Covid restrictions at the plant.

Map locating Zhengzhou, China, where large-scale protests reportedly broke out at Foxconn's vast iPhone factory, according to images circulating on social media on Wednesday. © STAFF Map locating Zhengzhou, China, where large-scale protests reportedly broke out at Foxconn's vast iPhone factory, according to images circulating on social media on Wednesday.

In videos shared on Weibo and Twitter that AFP has verified, hundreds of workers can be seen marching on a road in daylight, with some being confronted by riot police and people in hazmat suits.

A nightime video showed a man with a bloodied face as someone off-camera says: "They're hitting people, hitting people. Do they have a conscience?"

Dozens of Women Killed in Factory Fire Tragedy

  Dozens of Women Killed in Factory Fire Tragedy China's state broadcaster CCTV on Tuesday attributed the cause of the blaze to "illegal activity."The blaze in Anyang, a city of 5.5 million people in Henan province, broke out at roughly 4:30 p.m. local time on Monday and wasn't brought under control for another four hours, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. The fire would only be fully extinguished by 11 p.m.

AFP verified that video partly through geolocation that showed distinctive features, including a building and barricades near staff living quarters on the factory compound.

Another video showed smashed-up Covid-19 testing booths and an overturned vehicle.

In one daytime video, several fire trucks surrounded by police in hazmat suits were parked near residential blocks while a voice on a loudspeaker was heard saying: "All workers please return to their accommodation, do not associate with a small minority of illegal elements."

China's unrelenting zero-Covid policy has caused fatigue and resentment among wide swathes of the population, some of whom have been locked down for weeks at factories and universities, or unable to travel freely.

Slavery's ghost haunts cotton gin factory's transformation

  Slavery's ghost haunts cotton gin factory's transformation PRATTVILLE, Ala. (AP) — There’s no painless way to explain the history of a massive brick structure being renovated into apartments in this central Alabama city — a factory that played a key role in the expansion of slavery before the Civil War. Dating back to the 1830s, the labor of enslaved Black people helped make it the world’s largest manufacturer of cotton gins, an innovation that boosted demand for many more enslaved people to pick cotton that could be quickly processed in much higher quantities than ever before, historians say.

The Weibo hashtag "Foxconn riots" appeared to be censored by Wednesday noon, but some text posts referencing large-scale protests at the factory remained live.

Neither Foxconn nor Apple responded to AFP requests for comment on the latest unrest.

- Hotbed of unrest -

Foxconn, also known by its official name Hon Hai Precision Industry, is the world's biggest contract electronics manufacturer, assembling gadgets for many international brands.

The Taiwanese tech giant, Apple's principal subcontractor, recently saw a surge in Covid-19 cases at its Zhengzhou site, leading the company to shutter the vast complex in a bid to keep the virus in check.

Since then, the huge facility of about 200,000 workers -- dubbed "iPhone City" -- has been operating in a "closed loop" bubble.

Footage emerged this month of panicking workers fleeing the site en masse on foot in the wake of allegations of poor conditions at the facility.

Foxconn apologizes for pay dispute at China factory

  Foxconn apologizes for pay dispute at China factory BEIJING (AP) — The company that assembles Apple Inc.’s iPhones apologized Thursday for a pay dispute that triggered employee protests at a factory where anti-virus controls have slowed production. Employees complained Foxconn Technology Group changed the terms of wages offered to attract them to the factory in the central city of Zhengzhou. Foxconn is trying to rebuild the workforce after employees walked out last month over complaints about unsafe conditions.Videos on social media showed police in white protective suits kicking and clubbing workers during the protest that erupted Tuesday and lasted into the next day.

Multiple employees later recounted to AFP scenes of chaos and disorganisation at the complex of workshops and dormitories.

In the place of the fleeing workers, the firm has offered large bonuses and other incentives for employees who stayed as the local government bussed in fresh labourers in a bid to keep the factory afloat.

Apple this month admitted the lockdown had "temporarily impacted" production ahead of the holiday season at the Zhengzhou factory, the Taiwanese company's crown jewel that churns out iPhones in quantities not seen anywhere else.

Foxconn is China's biggest private sector employer, with over a million people working across the country in about 30 factories and research institutes.

China is the last major economy wedded to a strategy of extinguishing Covid outbreaks as they emerge, imposing lockdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines despite the widespread disruption to businesses and international supply chains.

The policy has sparked sporadic protests throughout China, with residents taking to the street in several major Chinese cities to vent their anger against snap lockdowns and business closures.

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Analysis: Under Jiang, China projected a more open image .
He grinned, and — just eight years after the crackdown on democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square — the spectacle of China's ruler beaming and glad-handing people in the very heart of capitalism seemed at once charming and really, really odd. It was an October morning in 1997 at the New York Stock Exchange, and Jiang Zemin, the powerful head of the Chinese Communist Party and government, was ringing the opening bell. “Good morning!” he boomed. “I wish you good trading!”This was entirely in keeping with the image of Jiang, who died at age 96 on Wednesday a full generation after his rule and two Chinese leaders later.

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