Covid stops Foxconn, the largest factory in the world (by Apple)

Of Massimo Sideri

Foxconn, located in the Shenzhen area, has over one million employees – all of our technology is assembled in that area of ​​the world

Stop to the global technology factory: due to the new Covid-19 emergency in the Shenzhen area, Foxconn, the largest product assembly line on Earth, has also been blocked. Over a million workers, tens of thousands of android robots that never stop, all ready to put together the technology that saved us from lockdown isolation and allowed the world to continue working from home.

The Foxconn – actually founded by Taiwanese tycoon Terry Gou – it is the largest private employer in the People’s Republic of China and sadly became known a few years ago as the “suicide factory” for the impressive number of workers who, unable to cope with the working conditions of the first industrial revolution, preferred death .

The company has Apple as its preferred customer but in reality everything is assembled here: laptops, computers, consumer electronics of any kind. Here the Blackberries were assembled that played their role in the Western finance revolution by entering the pockets of top managers and bankers before becoming a mass phenomenon (and then failing). Among the most popular products that arrive in our homes from this place in the world are: Amazon Kindles, Sony Playstations, Microsoft’s Xbox and Xiaomi smartphones. But the main products are iPad, iPod and iPhone. For now, there is talk of a one-week stop even though Foxconn itself has made it known that “the date of resumption of the factory must be communicated by the local government”.

A city more than a factory: the structures occupy a huge portion of the city of Shenzhen, with adjoining houses for the workers, a bit like the factory cities of the nineteenth century, but honestly less illuminated (like, outside Milan, the Crespi D village ‘Adda). Here and there you can also see spaces for children, playgrounds, public swimming pools. But the Fordist principle of alienation still finds in this place a culture in which to reproduce, with few trade union defenses. And the young people who arrive from the countryside with the hope of improving their living conditions soon collide with salaries that are too low to be able to feed their dreams (about 100 dollars a month). On the other hand, as consumers, we are all partly responsible for it.

Shenzhen is the direct result of China’s oxymorical season of socialist-capitalism: the area became a special economic zone (with particular fiscal conditions to attract investment) soon after Deng Xiaping in 1984 made his famous proclamation: go and get rich. It is no coincidence that the city is located a few kilometers from Hong Kong and cross-border borders can pass back and forth here in the day, even if by now Hong Kong is free and with a double economic regime only the shadow remains after the Chinese squeeze. Until a few years ago the customs between Hong Kong and Shenzhen was the invisible wall to overcome in order to access google.hk, the free version of Google where you were redirected from Chinese territory. Now that Shenzhen and Foxconn are at a standstill, the concern shifts to the port of the city, one of the largest in China. Already in the late spring of last year, the outbreak in Shenzhen had stalled port operations and caused a sharp spike in global shipping rates helping to drive up prices for imported goods in the United States and elsewhere. China has since tried to keep ports operational by requiring many workers to live at the port for blocks of weeks. But the zero tolerance policy adopted by the country, which provides for the total closure of the most populous cities even in the presence of a few dozen cases to stop the transmissibility of the Omicron variant, has generated concerns in producers over another series of closures in factories. and in Chinese ports. Any further disruption to the global supply chain would thus come at a particularly difficult time for companies, which are struggling with rising commodity and shipping prices along with extended delivery times and labor shortages.


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