We’ve all heard the stories that come out of Foxconn, the Chinese mega-factory where most of Apple’s gadgets (as well as the products of several other huge tech companies like HP and Dell) are produced. From the hiring of 14 year olds, to the incredibly low wages and long hours, to the multiple reports of worker suicides, it doesn’t seem like a particularly reputable place.
A reporter for The Atlantic got a chance to visit the Shenzhen factory recently, which is the largest of Foxconn’s facilities. Some of what he captured is pretty surprising, given the grim tales we’ve heard about the place. While some pretty gnarly stuff is shown in his photographs, like the suicide nets that hang off the sides of the buildings to prevent people from jumping off them, he also captured come pretty civilized looking parts of Foxconn.
From a giant cyber cafe where employees could go to use the internet, complete with modern looking tech, to a “staff care” center where employees could take their personal and social issues, there’s a surprising number of amenities available on the Foxconn campus.
None of this necessarily means that Foxconn workers aren’t still living and working in dire conditions most of the time, and the Atlantic reporter is quick to avoid jumping to any conclusions about Foxconn “being alright after all” or any such nonsense, but his photos certainly do paint a different picture of Foxconn than the one we usually see painted by Western media.
James Fallows, the reporter who took the pictures, will have a more in-depth feature on Foxconn in the print version of The Atlantic soon. We look forward to checking it out when it gets published, as it may challenge some of the stereotypes we’ve come to think about Chinese manufacturing, and Foxconn in particular.