Chinese Citizens Comment on Foxconn, Apple, and Being From the Birthplace of the World's Electronics

Illustration for article titled Chinese Citizens Comment on Foxconn, Apple, and Being From the Birthplace of the World's Electronics

The New York Times teamed up with a Chinese magazine to see how the Chinese feel about Foxconn, Apple, and the how their factory workers are treated. The results might not surprise you, but they will remind you that there's more cost to your iPad than what's on the price tag.


We hear a lot about how Americans feel about the situation in China's Foxconn factories. The employees work long hours for little money so we can have relatively cheap electronic devices. The New York Times' iEconomy series delves deeper into the subject and their second article in the series was posted on China's Caixim business magazine. The magazine asked its readers to comment on the situation. Here are a few choice comments:

1) It is a pity that, we know that for Apple fans, such a story won't stop their enthusiasm. Just like people are still buying Nike and Adidas shoes, knowing that shoe manufacturing is highly environmentally hazardous; 2) if a government cannot guarantee the welfare of its own 120 million disadvantaged population and even suppresses their appeals, then how could we require an overseas company to protect the labor rights in a Chinese factory? -Jionglegejiong

If the story is simply blaming Apple and Foxconn, then it is simplifying the problem. Other companies including HTC, Lenovo, HP and Sony, and their OEM (original equipment manufacturer) companies such as Wistron, Quanta and Inventec, share the same situation. Workers of small OEM enterprises are working in even harsher environments and having more overtime. The root is that they are unable to reach a higher position in the industry chain. Also, there are no effective labor organizations in those factories and the government tends to shield huge companies because of their profits. - Freestyle-coming

When local governments are trying to attract new investments to their regions, they always emphasize the low-cost labor in their areas. How pathetic! - Jiangsu

Check out there rest of the comment at the New York Times. [New York Times]


Smoak on the Water

I've been wondering about this, and I apologize that I'm not as eloquent as I'd like to be, but, here it goes:

In the food world, there is a subset of consumers that strives to purchase as much food as possible from local or organic sources. They are willing to pay a premium price for pesticide-free fruits, hormone-free beef, or free-range chicken. Even though the non-organic foods are usually much cheaper, this subset is more concerned about the quality of the food and quality of life of the animals than the bottom line.

In the automobile market place, there is a segment of buyers that want as emission-free a vehicle as possible. They'll only consider hybrids or electric vehicles of flex-fuel vehicles as they want to minimize their impact on petroleum and gasoline refinement. They'll gladly pay more in up-front costs and possibly even more on the backend cost-of-ownership just to do so.

Jewelry stores and gem importers will specifically advertise ethical diamonds. How many shops advertise Free Trade coffee?

So...why hasn't there been an ethical consumer electronics movement? "Organic electronics" if you will. It seems to me that Foxconn gets the majority of blame in the unfair treatment of workers and inhumane working conditions, but couldn't a company like Apple, or Microsoft or Sony, or etc..., make some real massive PR points by creating an ethical workplace line of consumer electronics? I mean, if people are lining up for an iPad II that costs over $500, does anybody else think there'd be people would pay $100 more for an iPad IIe? An organic XBox could cost more, and would cost more, but would people buy it knowing that they're not essentially sponsoring state-sanctioned slavery?

It seems to me that the Chinese government isn't going to change their labor laws unless there's a financial reason to do so. It'll take a bizarre form of a boycott or public demand for ethically-produced products. I just know that I'd love to use a cell phone that isn't killing the people who make it.