A Trip to China Can Make a Guy Hate His iPhone

The New York Times interviews Mike Daisey, whose forthcoming one-man show at New York’s Public Theatre, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”, is based partly on Daisey’s undercover visits to Shenzhen electronics factories.

Q. Have you softened the show because it might feel callous to criticize a man who has serious health problems?

A. The idea that [Mr. Jobs] could pass away is a tremendous distraction from the really essential story. To be truthful, it’s difficult to know that we are so hungry to be distracted from the unfortunate and uncomfortable situation we’ve created for ourselves with China, with our labor, with all of our manufacturing, that we will grasp at whatever it takes to not talk about it.

Q. Did conditions in these factories surprise you?

A. I’d expected conditions to be bad, to be worse than I’d ever experienced, and I’ve lived a relatively comfortable life. What was shocking to me was the level of dehumanization built into the systems that have been put into place by American corporations in collusion with suppliers.

Apple was recently singled out by a group of Chinese environmental groups for its uncooperative and even obstructive approach to industrial pollution concerns. This week, one of the NGOs involved reported that the company had, as promised, held talks with them for the first time. From Computer World:

IPE said it held talks twice with Apple, the second time with the company’s supply chain management. While Apple did not specifically address all of the concerns the environmental groups made, the company said it would continue to communicate and collaborate with them, according to Wang Jing Jing, vice director for IPE.

“In the future, we will listen to what they have to say and we will see how they will move forward,” Wang said. “Our goal is that they will really work to improve the supply chain management.”

See also Christina Larson’s recent overview of Apple in China, ‘Red, Delicious and Rotten’, some Chinese reactions to Jobs’ resignation, and past coverage of Foxconn, Apple’s most prominent supplier, via CDT.