Desperate Chinese Workers Escape Coronavirus Lockdown at World’s Largest iPhone Factory

ZHENGZHOU, CHINA - OCTOBER 30: Foxconn employees take shuttle buses to head home on Octobe
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Terrified Chinese workers are literally climbing over the fences to escape from the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, fearful they will either contract Chinese coronavirus or become trapped in the facility under China’s manic coronavirus lockdown policy.

Foxconn sources say production at the world’s largest iPhone factory could be cut at least 30 percent by the exodus of workers.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Monday that Foxconn pledged to provide transportation for the fleeing workers, who are prepared to walk enormous distances on foot to get home because the Zhengzhou lockdown suspended all public transportation. Foxconn would not disclose how many of its 300,000 workers have fled the plant so far.

Nearby cities have also pledged to send buses to pick up workers who wish to return home, leaving Foxconn to plead for transfers of workers from other factories to keep the massive iPhone plant running. The company is also offering sizable bonuses for workers who remain on the job. Industry analysts are watching to see if Foxconn can make good on promises to resume normal operations by next week.

The fleeing workers appear to be frightened of both Chinese coronavirus and the lockdown. The SCMP attributed some of their overwhelming terror of contracting the disease to Chinese government propaganda, which strives to justify endless draconian lockdowns by painting the coronavirus as a lethal, almost demonic force. These fears are exacerbated by China’s disappointing vaccination rates and the low effectiveness of its vaccines, problems the Chinese government is still struggling to address.

On the other hand, some workers appeared more apprehensive about the prospect of getting stuck in the Foxconn factory for weeks or months in a “closed-loop management system,” which means employees are forced to live at their workplaces under quarantine.

Workers complained about unsanitary conditions at the Foxconn plant, inadequate preparations for the possibility of thousands of workers living on-site, and quarantine policies that made life in the facility unpleasant. Some distrusted assurances by plant management and the Zhengzhou government that the coronavirus outbreak in the Foxconn facility was “small-scale.”

On Tuesday, Foxconn quadrupled the daily attendance bonus for workers at the Zhengzhou plan to 400 yuan ($55) and offered up to 5,000 yuan in additional bonuses if employees work enough days in the coming month.

Zhengzhou health officials also took the remarkable step of describing the strain of Chinese coronavirus at work in their city as highly contagious but “weak” and unlikely to cause severe symptoms. This is a major deviation from nationwide Chinese Communist Party propaganda, which describes the virus as extremely dangerous – and tends to undermine China’s vaccination drive by questioning the effectiveness of all vaccines, even China’s – because Beijing wishes to portray the rest of the world as foolish and irresponsible for trying to “move on” from the pandemic.

Foxconn, a Taiwanese-owned company that supplies vital components for Apple’s iPhone products, operates several facilities in China. None is nearly as large as the Zhengzhou plant, which accounts for over ten percent of global iPhone production, but the company is reportedly trying to shift production to other factories in a bid to control the damage from the Zhengzhou walkout.

On Tuesday, Foxconn angrily denounced a video circulating on Twitter that claimed eight people have died from the coronavirus at the Zhengzhou plant’s dormitory.

“We believe this is a maliciously edited video,” the company said, insisting it has conducted a “detailed investigation” and determined there were no deaths at the plant during its on-site quarantine.


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