In light of the spate of recent suicide attempts at Apple gadget assembler Foxconn in the past month, it’s worth revisiting what happened to a Reuters reporter who tried to investigate the place.
Reuters buried the account halfway through an excellent, lengthy feature on the subject of secrecy within Apple’s Asian supply chain:
Tipped by a worker outside the Longhua complex that a nearby Foxconn plant was manufacturing parts for Apple too, our correspondent hopped in a taxi for a visit to the facility in Guanlan, which makes products for a range of companies.
As he stood on the public road taking photos of the front gate and security checkpoint, a guard shouted. The reporter continued snapping photos before jumping into a waiting taxi. The guard blocked the vehicle and ordered the driver to stop, threatening to strip him of his taxi licence.
The correspondent got out and insisted he was within his rights as he was on the main road. The guard grabbed his arm. A second guard ran over, and with a crowd of Foxconn workers watching, they tried dragging him into the factory.
The reporter asked to be let go. When that didn’t happen, he jerked himself free and started walking off. The older guard kicked him in the leg, while the second threatened to hit him again if he moved. A few minutes later, a Foxconn security car came along but the reporter refused to board it. He called the police instead.
After the authorities arrived and mediated, the guards apologized and the matter was settled. The reporter left without filing a complaint, though the police gave him the option of doing so.
“You’re free to do what you want,” the policeman explained, “But this is Foxconn and they have a special status here. Please understand.”
Read the entire story at Reuters > (Really, do — it’s very good.)
As Reuters writers James Pomfret and Kelvin Soh note, Apple probably doesn’t have direct control over security practices at these factories. But the fact that a staffer would kick a photographer illustrates what immense pressure Apple’s suppliers are under to keep their jobs.
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