Foxconn’s factory in Zhengzhou, the capital city of Henan province, has been shut down by the coronavirus outbreak in recent days, causing a large number of workers to flee from Apple’s largest iPhone assembly plant in China.
According to a video widely circulated on the Internet, 10 people jumped over the fence outside the factory to escape the factory area. At present, Chinese people and enterprises are continuing to work hard to cope with the strict new crown “clearing” epidemic prevention policy of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
It was not possible to verify how many confirmed cases of Covid-19 were found at the plant.
However, Zhengzhou reported 167 local confirmed cases of Covid-19 last week, up from 97 the week before, Reuters reported.
Parts of the big city of about 10 million have been put on lockdown as China continues to impose strict lockdown measures in response to the new coronavirus.
Taiwan’s Foxconn Group, a supplier to Apple Inc., has hundreds of thousands of workers at its Zhengzhou factory, but the company has yet to provide official figures on the number of infections. Reuters also said that due to the outbreak at the Zhengzhou factory, iPhone shipments in November may be reduced by as much as 30%.
However, footage shared on Twitter by Chinese social media and the BBC’s Beijing correspondent Stephen McDonell shows workers at the Foxconn factory allegedly leaving the factory and starting a long walk back home to avoid being on public transport Arrested.
A 22-year-old Foxconn worker surnamed Xia told the Financial Times that the dormitory where he and his colleagues were kept was “chaos.” “We jumped over the fence and escaped the factory,” he said.
The area around the factory has been locked down for several days, and workers who have tested positive for the new coronavirus are being tested and quarantined every day in an attempt to contain the outbreak, workers said.
On October 19, Foxconn announced a ban on dine-in meals at its Zhengzhou factory, requiring workers to dine in their dormitories.
At the same time, the company told the media that it is maintaining “normal capacity” as the factory ramps up production of the latest iPhone 14 models.
Under China’s strict policy of “zeroing out” the outbreak, local governments have the power to act quickly to contain any outbreak of the virus. This includes anything from total lockdowns to regular testing and travel restrictions.
Many people had expected Xi Jinping to abandon this “zeroing” policy by the end of the year, but at the recent “Twentieth Congress” of the Communist Party of China, he made it clear that this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Employee “Great Escape”?
In fact, videos of Foxconn employees “escape from the factory” on foot have been widely circulated on Chinese social media since last week, sparking much discussion on the Chinese internet. There were also many workers in the factory who shared their experiences and routes along the way, which aroused public concern.
Many Henan people placed drinking water, food, vegetables and fruits on the road to assist workers passing by. On October 30, an online commentary writer from Henan who signed “Jinzhao” commented on the WeChat “Jinzhao Story”: “The workers who escaped from Foxconn touch the hearts of thousands of people. It seems that today, More people came out. It is gratifying that cities in Henan have also made preparations to accept them. In fact, these people did not flee at first. After the epidemic came, they had no choice but to obey orders… If It’s not that it’s an unbearable situation, they’re willing to cooperate with everything.”
Another article signed by the author of “Liu Li” titled “Please be kind to Foxconn employees who go home on foot” was also widely forwarded in the WeChat circle of friends.
In addition, because Foxconn is affiliated to the Hon Hai Group, which was founded and led by Taiwanese billionaire Guo Taiming, the riot at the Zhengzhou factory has also aroused high public attention in Taiwan.
For example, Akio Yaita, a Japanese cross-strait political commentator who was born in mainland China and stationed in Taipei, commented on his personal Facebook that Foxconn had an epidemic in about two weeks. Being locked up in the dormitory, not only did they have no space to move around, but there was also a serious shortage of food and drinking water. One mask was issued every three days, and they could not get medical treatment when they got sick. Some employees endured for 10 days and finally broke out. The Great Escape.”
Akio Yaita pointed out that the images of these people “fleeing” have been leaking out on the Internet recently, “Like the 1942 Henan famine, most of these pictures and videos were deleted in a very short period of time, and all kinds of news are complicated. It is still difficult to know the specific number of refugees and the main direction of refugees.” He emphasized that this incident in a sense symbolizes the failure of the dynamic “clearing” epidemic prevention policy.
In fact, it is striking that most of the articles and videos about Foxconn workers fleeing the factory have not disappeared from the Internet or Douyin.
Hu Xijin, a Chinese nationalist “opinion leader” and former editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, commented on the matter on Weibo, which has become an important reference for the scale of commenting on the matter. This time, Hu Xijin criticized the local media, not the government, saying he did not believe in spreading or reporting news. He criticized the media’s inaction, which led to disorderly information dissemination and caused factory workers to flee in panic.
He said: “The rumor that 20,000 people were infected by Foxconn in Zhengzhou was categorically denied by Foxconn on October 26. The media should actively intervene in reporting the situation of Foxconn before and after this time, ask questions and clarify the facts. In that case, It is very likely that the chaos in Foxconn’s later ‘a large number of employees fleeing’ will not cause a stir in the public opinion field.”
Hu Xijin slammed Zhengzhou’s “mainstream media” for being restricted from speaking out, which obviously aggravated the confusion and caused serious public opinion consequences that no one wants to see. “Our government does things with the people at the center. Concealed. In this regard, local officials should be fully confident, place high trust in mainstream media, and encourage them to let go of their work.”
Hu Xijin’s remarks immediately aroused eager responses from Chinese netizens. A citizen from Shanghai who signed the name “Sakura Kaji” responded: “The media should not lose their voices. You must believe in the party and the country, and have this confidence.”
Another person from Henan who signed “Tie Niu Technology” commented on Hu Xijin’s post: “You don’t need to worry, I’m here, and I just said some things on Weibo, I can’t say that there’s no problem, basically. It’s not a big problem. It’s all about the hype on the Internet to increase anxiety. Don’t be deceived. The current situation is getting better and better, and all aspects of support are gradually being put in place. I also suggest that Foxconn employees and friends should be calm and rational. Don’t follow what others say, just follow every step.”
In the face of concerns from all sides, Foxconn issued a written statement to the BBC Chinese saying that the company cooperated with the government to provide assistance for employees who want to return to their hometowns.
The company stated in a statement that caring for employees is the first principle of the group’s operations. Zhengzhou Park is continuing to implement epidemic prevention measures, implementing closed-loop management, point-to-point commuting, daily nucleic acid and antigen screening, and providing employees with three meals for free. “At the same time, for some employees who are willing to return home, the park has cooperated with the government to organize personnel and vehicles to provide a point-to-point orderly return service for employees from 10/30.”
“We are well aware that under the current epidemic situation, how to do a good job in the care and safety of more than 200,000 employees in the park is a ‘protracted battle’. “The statement emphasized.
According to Taiwan media reports, Hon Hai Group will hold a corporate briefing on November 10, and it is expected that issues including the situation of the Zhengzhou plant will become the focus of attention.