The Poetry and Brief Life of a Foxconn Worker

The Poetry and Brief Life of a Foxconn Worker

Taiwanese manufacturing contractor Foxconn—a firm responsible for assembling as much as 40% of global consumer electronics products—has received international infamy for the inferior labor conditions at some of their China-based plants. While the company has attracted some fabricated criticism, and has taken reluctant steps towards democratizing labor in a country where labor advocacy is incredibly risky, the worker suicides that brought Foxconn global notoriety in 2010 have continued. In late September, 24-year-old Xu Lizhi took his life at a Foxconn plant in Shenzhen after toiling there for four years. A post from’s Nao blog has translated Xu’s obituary from the Shenzhen Daily, as well as several of the poems that the late young worker had become known for among his colleagues at the Foxconn campus. The first translation is Xu’s final writing before taking his own life on September 30:

“On My Deathbed”

I want to take another look at the ocean, behold the vastness of tears from half a lifetime

I want to climb another mountain, try to call back the soul that I’ve lost

I want to touch the sky, feel that blueness so light

But I can’t do any of this, so I’m leaving this world

Everyone who’s heard of me

Shouldn’t be surprised at my leaving

Even less should you sigh or grieve

I was fine when I came, and fine when I left.

— Xu Lizhi, 30 September 2014 [Source]

Click through to read more of Xu Lizhi’s translated poetry at


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