Inside Foxconn

One day after U.S. Presidential contenders Barack Obama and Mitt Romney came to blows over the impact of Chinese manufacturing on the U.S. economy, James Fallows visited the Shenzhen campus of Foxconn, the world’s largest manufacturer of electronics. There he took a series of photos of workers both on and off the factory floor. He will continue to publish additional photos, and an article about Foxconn, in the Atlantic in the near future:

By chance, I watched that debate a few miles from where many of those iPads, Macs, and iPhones are made in southern China. The following day — today, Thursday, China time — I was inside the most famous of these outsourcing centers. This is the Foxconn “campus” in the Longhua area of Shenzhen, north of Hong Kong. Some 220,000 people work there; about a quarter of them live on site; and several thousand new employees are recruited, trained, and brought onto staff each week, because turnover at Foxconn and many of these Chinese manufacturing centers is so high. Foxconn has been controversial over the years because of allegations of sweatshop operation and of militaristic surveillance and discipline, plus a wave of worker suicides in 2010. I’ll have more to say on the current state of Chinese manufacturing at Foxconn and elsewhere very soon, with a now-very-much-overdue article in the magazine.

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I am always surprised by things in China, but this day was at the more-surprising-than-usual end of the spectrum

For more images of the Foxconn campus, see photos by Jordan Pouille. See also a post about a recent strike by Foxconn workers in Zhengzhou. Read more about Foxconn via CDT.

October 18, 2012 8:26 PM
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