Facts Prove Foxconn a Better Place to Work and Live

The Huffington Post published another piece about Foxconn, a Taiwan based company, and mentioned, once again, the recent suicides among workers at their south China facility. The Post also reported that Foxconn might be planning to build a new factory in the city of Hebei in Henan province and hire another 300,000 workers. 

Since Foxconn already has about 800,000 workers in China, that would bring the total above a million. Does that mean more suicides are on the horizon? The answer may surprise you.

China already has one of the highest suicide rates in the world at 230 per million, while the global average is 100 per million. Source: Association for Asian Research

There were ten suicides at Foxconn in five months and several attempts were stopped proving that Foxconn has preventative measures in place. Since the suicide rate at Foxconn was 1.25 suicides per 100,000, the evidence suggests a much safer, healthier environment than outside Foxconn’s walls—including the US with 10.9 suicides per 100,000. Source: NIMH

In fact, I’m not alone in my opinion. Tom Foremski, writing for zdnet, says that the World Health Organization suicide figures for China show 18 male and 14.8 female suicides per 100,000.

The media is misrepresenting the facts about Foxconn.

Why?

A) Yellow Journalism
B)  It happened in China
C) Both A & B

See Roughed Up

_________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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4 Responses to Facts Prove Foxconn a Better Place to Work and Live

  1. Hi Lloyd,

    I appreciate seeing another point of view on the events happening in China. Often, it is too easy to judge events in China as another senseless and irrational moment in the crazy giant that is threatening to take over the world with their slimy strong armed tactics.

    However, although the numbers that are presented by the Huffington Post in this instance seem to be focusing on the wrong issue. Part of the reason this issue is receiving so much attention is because it is not often that one company has this many employees jumping off the top of the building.

    No other companies come to mind as a comparison. Now it may be happening and not being reported, which would be the issue that needs some scrutiny.

    If the Post could show that other companies have the same problems or worse, then I could see this as being blown out of proportion.

    Your thoughts?

    Thanks for the post of this story!

    • Since Foxconn has such a high profile, and Apple computer is their client, they are often under scrutiny. Most companies in China are not watched as closely as Foxconn, which is why that company has such tight security.

      Most companies in China are smaller and no one pays much attention to a company that makes deck screws for Home Depot, but it would be interesting to find out if many of the suicides in China work for small manufacturing companies. However, I doubt if China with its culture of secrecy is going to provide that information. Most of the suicides are probably caused by people who are not working or are afraid they are going to lose their job.

      One example: On a hike once in Southern California, our pre teen daughter discovered a man hanging from a tree. He was an architect from Taiwan, who killed himself because his company had gone out of business and he couldn’t earn the money needed to support his family. He climbed into that tree with an extension cord he brought form his mother’s house in Hacienda Heights.

      Japan:
      In 2009, there were more than 30,000 suicides in Japan for the 12th straight year—the 4th highest suicide rate in the world at almost 50 per 100,000.

      South Korea:
      South Korea’s suicide rate is almost 44 per 100,000 and is ranked 8th. Both of these countries are so called democracies. One would think the people would be happier since they are industrial powers, wealthy and democratic.

      India:
      India, on the other hand, is ranked 44th, while the US is ranked 41st on the list.

      Mainland China is ranked 27th.

      Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate#List

      How about Taiwan, which is also Chinese.

      Both the suicide rate and unemployment rate have showed an upward trend in Taiwan since 1994… Between 1978 – 2009, there have been 74,064 suicides in Taiwan. Last year there were about 23 million people in Taiwan. Source: http://www.springerlink.com/content/m25n4476gmq357pq/

      “This is a tragic society,” Taiwan’s Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang proclaimed in a Nov. 28 speech at the National Science and Technology Museum. He warned that if the island continues on this track, the population would experience a future labor shortage and that the next generation of children would have significant difficulty covering the health costs of their aging parents. That intense financial pressure, he said, could raise the future suicide rate. The Education Minister, in a separate statement, predicted that one-third of Taiwan’s colleges will close in just 12 years if the trend continues. Source: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1945937,00.html

      TAIPEI, Taiwan — More than 4,000 people committed suicide in Taiwan in 2009, averaging almost one death every two hours, the Department of Health said yesterday.
      A total of 4,063 suicides were registered, down 65 from the previous year. The 2009 suicide rate was 17.6 per 100,000 people, the department said, down from 17.9 in 2008. (about 18 per each 100,000)

      The number of men who committed suicide was 2.2 times more than that of women, the department said in its annual report.
      Source: http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest+News/Asia/Story/A1Story20100604-220186.html

      Yet, the Western Media and Blogosphere are obsessed with ten suicides in the last five or six months at Foxconn without mentioning all these facts. There are two reasons for this. The suicides at Foxconn took place in Communist China and a major American company, Apple, is involved since Foxconn is the company that assembles all or most of their products.

      • Thanks again for the additional information.

        I hope that Foxconn’s story continues to open up the rest of the country’s companies to the same scrutiny.

        While living in Guangzhou, I was able to tour Ryder International, which is one of the biggest competitors of Foxconn in Shenzhen. The managers said the factory workers were only allowed to work 8 hours per day and that they worked hard to have strict compliance (of course, you never know what the real truth might be. The workers certainly didn’t look very happy, but of course they were doing jobs that no one would love to do for the rest of their lives.).

        I believe China is a country that lacks a lot of the protective laws we had to earn in the United States by watching our women burn in factories in the early 1900s, our minorities segregated for decades, and our meat poisoning us until Sinclair’s expose was published.

        They will have to go through the same growing pains. Sometimes I wonder if many Americans are thinking too much like Mao Ze Dong. They want China to make the “Great Leap Forward” and “leap” over all of the painful processes it takes to become a more democratic and capitalistic nation.

        Lessons can be learned and some things don’t have to be repeated, but some things are just part of growing up and make you a strong mature nation.

        It is amazing how much the Chinese government and communist party are willing to tell the Chinese people compared to just 5 years ago. There are troubling trends with the Internet, but when you are there, it is much more open than we believe. Americans only see the tip of the iceberg because of skewed media like the coverage you have been referring to in this post.

        I hope the West will find ways to nudge them in the right direction rather than allow their companies to play gunboat policy all over again. Our western companies don’t care as much about diplomacy and are more than willing to reap the profits as long as it is allowed by the Chinese government.

      • I agree. America is where it is today because it has been on the path toward more equality and freedoms longer. In fact, China is changing at a faster pace than the US did. When the US became a nation in the 18th century there was still slavery and women were the same as property. America had to fight a bloody civil war in the 19th century to end slavery and it wasn’t until 1920 that the 10th Amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote and 1972 when the Equal Rights Amendment was passed.

        In China, Mao liberated women in 1950 with his famous “women hold up half the sky” speech and women became equal to men. It was over in a moment. It didn’t take almost two centuries as in the US. Of course, after that sudden change, there was culture shock among the population to deal with. Women still had to learn to be free.

        When and if China becomes a two or more party political system, women will be standing in line to vote with men. According to what Deng Xiaoping said during the Tiananmen Tragedy, having China one day become some sort of democracy where all the people are involved at some level is not out of the question. Before that day comes, much work need to still be done. Everyone in China must be educated equally, connected to the electrical grid and have access to the Internet. At present, about 700 million rural Chinese do not have all this yet. Even education in rural China is not at the level it is in urban China. Considering where China started in 1950, it is amazing what has taken place and in between 1950 and 1976 was the tragedy of Mao’s Great Leap Forward followed by the Cultural Revolution.

        Leaping China into a democratic future should wait until all of China catches up and is on more of an equal footing. Regardless of Tibet, the Uyghurs, and the lack of freedom for political expression in China, China has been evolving at a fast pace and is going to change and has been changing. I sometimes worry China is changing too fast.

        Much of what happens in China is due to the leaders being Chinese — not Communists. Study China’s history and you will discover that previous governments were more brutal than the one that evolved after Maoism ended in 1976. China is a collective culture in thought and deed and has been for thousands of years. The West is individualistic in thought and deed, which isn’t always that good either. Both cultures have flaws.

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