Tongxin, near Shanghai, is the site of a factory run by Apple supplier Kaedar. Marketplace’s Rob Schmitz found the villagers initially eager to talk about pollution from the plant, but this changed after local authorities shut down production lines on safety grounds:
When I ask two men about the pollution, they say, “What pollution?’ There’s no pollution here.” Another man said he and others who spoke to journalists have been threatened — he angrily accused me of working for Apple.
I ask one woman if she’s been threatened. “I don’t know,” she says nervously.
Schmitz notes recent talks between Apple and the Chinese environmental groups who released a damning report on the company’s supply chain pollution earlier this year. 21st Century Business Herald (via chinadialogue) revealed more details of the meeting:
The talks lasted three hours, during which the two sides crossed swords several times, according to participant accounts. Li Li from Envirofriends said that, at one point, discussions almost broke down ….
… Certain suppliers previously contacted by this newspaper argued that the main driver of pollution was Apple’s constant efforts to lower prices. They said Apple usually asks suppliers to cut prices every quarter and falling profits are forcing suppliers to reduce costs, which in turn leads to a reduction in spending on environmental protection ….
But you can’t blame Apple for everything, said Li Bo of Friends of Nature, China’s oldest environmental NGO, who was also present at the meeting last week: after all, the factories are in China. China needs to think about how to deal with these pollution issues under its own legal and supervisory regime, he said.
See also Can China Fight Pollution?