Apple and Foxconn, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of consumer electronics and a major Apple supplier, issued statements last week expressing sorrow for the death. Foxconn said it suspended one security officer, pending a police investigation, and that the company was now considering counseling services for its employees.
The Apple statement said: “We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee, and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death. We require that our suppliers treat all workers with dignity and respect.” The company would not comment further.
The local police bureau declined to answer questions about the case. But reports of the apparent suicide have set off a firestorm of criticism of Foxconn’s treatment of Mr. Sun, labor conditions at its factories and the pressures Apple places on suppliers to abide by the culture of secrecy that surrounds its development of new products.
The case also underscores the challenges that global companies face in trying to safeguard their designs and intellectual property in the hotly contested smartphone market, particularly here in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, an electronics manufacturing center known for piracy and counterfeiting.