In any event, workers have had enough. “Foxconn really messed up, I don’t think a lot of people would want to go back,” said Dong Wanwan, a 20-year-old worker, who fled the Zhengzhou plant with her 19-year-old brother and walked 25 miles to get home. “I know I wouldn’t.”
Dong and her brother walked away—literally and figuratively—from one of the best-paying blue-collar jobs in China, and this suggests China’s strict worker controls are unsustainable. In May, Quanta Computer, which makes Apple’s MacBook, was hit by worker discontent due to another closed-loop system.
The disruption could not come at a worse time for Apple. The Zhengzhou factory, which employs about 200,000 people, would normally be operating at full-speed for the Christmas season. “A person with direct knowledge of the matter” told Reuters that the production of iPhones could fall “by as much as 30%” at the Zhengzhou plant. Foxconn says production there was, in the words of Reuters, “normal.”
“Normal”? In China, operating below capacity is now common. “COVID-control and other rules have for months crippled export-oriented factories in China,” says Jonathan Bass, a manufacturing expert at InfraGlobal Partners, to 1945. “American consumer electronic companies are critically reliant on subcontractors and assemblers in China and are now having major supply-chain problems in that country.”
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Since the early months of the pandemic, the Party has made the number of China’s infections and deaths a measure of its effectiveness. Unrelenting propaganda maintains the line that Chinese communism is superior to American democracy because China has been better able to control the disease.
Therefore, every case of coronavirus in China is considered by the Communist Party as a threat to its rule. It does not matter whether disease-control measures make economic sense. This has become a matter of regime legitimacy.
The Party, at least up to now, has thought it could continue its oppressive system indefinitely, but the defiance of angry workers from Zhengzhou—and the broad support they received from society—show us the Chinese people have had enough.
The CCP’s obsession with the appearance of zero COVID isn’t just focused on the Foxconn plant, of course: Chinese ‘Zero-COVID’ Hell: The Bleakness in the East.
● October 26th: The end of Apple’s affair with China.
● September 5th: China’s Economy is Headed for One of the Largest Meltdowns Ever.
● July 6th: Business Exit from China Accelerating. “The exit from China makes sense for many businesses and will probably have positive geopolitical consequences as the U.S. becomes less dependent on production in a communist regime. But the fundamental transportation problems the U.S. faces will remain the same, and some might even get worse.”
● November 13th, 2019: How to Conduct Business with Chinese Companies That See a Dark Future.