What went wrong with Foxconn?

Cheming Yang

The twelve consecutive suicides in Foxconn shocked not only the great Chinese community but also the world.

Foxconn is a world leading ICT manufacturer. The president of the Foxconn group is Terry Kuo, who is now the richest man in Taiwan. Although Foxcoon’s stock is traded in Hong Kong, its factories are based all over China. The campus of Fooxconn that gave rise to all these mishaps is located in Shenzhen. This campus accommodates 400 to 500 thousand workers who are mostly in their 20s and far away from home. They live in the dormitories and earn on average 1,000 yuan monthly.

The sad stories of Foxconn are in fact a reflection of the manufacturing industry of China. China is able to maintain its export competiveness on account of inexpensive labor. This seemingly endless supply of inexpensive manpower is drained from the inland to the costal area. The youngsters are drawn to the costal cities with the hope of a better life and being successful in the future. They are removed from their families and their roots instantly and have limited opportunities of going back. The life in most factories around the world is more or less robot like. There is little doubt what this kind of disconnection will do to some feeble young minds. Some might argue that those who cannot rise up to this kind of solitude are not fit to leave home to work in the first place. However, we should also ask the question whether they do have a choice if there is no work back home. That is exactly why the great development of the western regions is so important and vital to the healthy development of China. People can make their livings without sacrificing their social support and get uprooted from their native environments if local economy is sustainable. More attention to the mental health of the workers can only serve as a short term relief for this crisis and media frenzy. Chinese labor force will only enjoy better mental and physical well beings if there are balanced developments among regions.


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