Unconfirmed photographs and video circulated on social networking sites, purporting to be from the factory, showed smashed windows, riot police officers and large groups of workers milling around. The Foxconn plant, in the Chinese city of Taiyuan, employs about 79,000 workers.
The Chinese state-run news media said 5,000 police officers had been called in to quell the riot.
A Foxconn spokesman declined to specify whether the Taiyuan plant made products for the Apple iPhone 5, which went on sale last week, but he said it supplied goods to many consumer electronics brands.
An employee at the Taiyuan plant, however, said iPhone components were made there. Most Apple-related production, though, takes place in other parts of China, particularly in the provinces of Sichuan and Henan. Apple could not be reached for comment.
–Foxconn Plant Closed After Riot, Company Says, 9/24/2012
I feel strange about how every article about Foxconn focuses on the Apple connection. “Were iPhones built there? Is the iPad worth the cost of being poisoned or maimed? Does Apple know how abhorrent the conditions are at Foxconn plants? No blood for MP3s!”
Questions like that are good, necessary even, but by focusing so strongly on the Apple connection is a mistake, particularly when you consider how comparatively little attention is given to the other companies who employ Foxconn to manufacture their products. That focus seems like it makes the problem easier to minimize and dismiss, in addition to demonizing Apple. The impression is that Apple is the biggest offender here, and those other guys are small time in comparison.
Here’s a list of Foxconn clients I pulled off Wikipedia: Acer Inc., Amazon.com, Apple Inc., Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, Nintendo, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba, and Vizio
They’re ALL compromised and we’re all compromised by extension. Not just Apple. A significant number of personal electronics are made at Foxconn. That Kindle you bought your mom, your old Nokia flip, that blu-ray player you watch your HD porno on… the poison has deep roots. I’m writing this post on a MacBook. I just went for a run using an iPod Nano. I was watching youtubes earlier on my Sony Google TV box-thing. I was reading comics on my iPad last night.
I benefit from the exploitation of others, we all do. And I think this style of journalism actually hurts awareness of that. The laser-tight focus on Apple means that people who don’t use Apple products, or who only have one or two, might not realize that the rest of their technology is compromised, too. PlayStation 2s used to use coltan, and there was a long-lasting violent conflict over the rights to mine and control that metal in the Congo. While I was traipsing around a virtual world, somebody my age on the other side of the world was working his fingers to the bone.
But Apple, as a company and a concept, moves units and generates controversy. They’re extremely popular; people are more likely to click through if they see Apple’s name. They attract virulent haters and strident defenders who battle it out every single time.
This type of thing shows that even factual reporting is a game, whether it’s the news gleefully playing along and encouraging the Obama birth certificate controversy or… do you remember the shooting at the Empire State Building a few weeks back? It was immediately termed a mass shooting and the think pieces started rolling out about gun control and how we’re messed up as a country. Turns out, the mass shooting was actually one guy shooting one other guy and then being killed by the police, who also managed to shoot nine bystanders in the process. It’s not the mass shooting that anyway said it was.
Meanwhile, nineteen people were shot in Chicago that weekend, a number that they match week after week after week. But that’s not marketable enough to go above the fold. It’s sad. Complex did a horrifying memorial for the teenagers who’ve died in Chicago this summer. “Between the first of June and the 31st of August, 152 people were killed. Of those, 38 were teenagers.” Scary, right?
It’s all a game. News organizations have to make money just like anyone else, and will do things that encourage that. I include myself in that number, too, though I don’t make money off this site at all. (It’s the opposite.) I prioritize subjects according to my own interests and desires, which creates a bias. It is what it is. Just be aware of that and seek the truth, instead of being given just part of the truth, I guess.