Protests break out at Foxconn’s largest iPhone factory in China

Foxconn’s iPhone factory in Zhengzhou is attacked after large-scale protests broke out.

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Violent protests have erupted around Foxconn’s massive iPhone factory in central China as workers clashed with security personnel over the factory’s Covid restrictions.

Videos shared on Weibo and Twitter, which AFP verified, show hundreds of workers marching down a road in daylight, some facing riot police and people in safety suits.

One nighttime video showed a man with a bloodied face as someone off camera says, “They hit people, hit people. Do they have a conscience?”

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AFP partially verified that video through geolocation that showed distinctive features, including a building and barricades near the workers’ living quarters on the factory grounds.

Another video showed destroyed Covid-19 test booths and an overturned vehicle.

In a daytime video, several fire trucks surrounded by police in hazmat suits were parked near housing blocks as a voice came through a loudspeaker saying, “All workers please return to their accommodation, do not interact with a small minority of illegal immigrants.” elements.”

China’s relentless zero-Covid policy has led to fatigue and resentment among large segments of the population, some of whom have been locked up in factories and universities for weeks, or unable to travel freely.

The Weibo hashtag “Foxconn riots” appeared to have been censored Wednesday afternoon, but some text posts referring to 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 legal name Hon Hai Precision Industry, is the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, assembling gadgets for many international brands.

The Taiwanese tech giant, Apple’s main subcontractor, recently saw a spate of Covid-19 cases at its Zhengzhou site, forcing the company to shut down the massive complex in an effort to contain the virus.

Since then, the massive facility of about 200,000 employees — dubbed “iPhone City” — has operated in a “closed loop” bubble.

Footage emerged this month of panicked workers fleeing the site en masse on foot after allegations of poor conditions at the factory.

Several workers later told AFP of scenes of chaos and disorganization in the complex of workshops and dormitories.

In lieu of the fleeing workers, the company has offered large bonuses and other incentives to workers who stayed while the local government brought in new workers in an effort to keep the factory running.

Apple admitted this month that the lockdown has “temporarily affected” pre-holiday production at its Zhengzhou factory, the crown jewel of the Taiwanese company that produces iPhones in quantities not available anywhere else.

Foxconn is China’s largest private sector employer, employing more than one million people across the country in approximately 30 factories and research institutes.

China is the latest major economy locked into a strategy to extinguish Covid outbreaks as they emerge, imposing lockdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines despite widespread disruption to businesses and international supply chains.

The policy has sparked sporadic protests across China, with residents in several major Chinese cities taking to the streets to vent their anger at swift lockdowns and business closures.

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