Americans doing Business in China – Part 1/16

February 21, 2012

Before I started putting this series of posts together, I read an ABC News piece by Bill Weir on “A Trip to the iFactory: ‘Nightline’ Gets an Unprecedented Glimpse Inside Apple’s Chinese Core” — (Note: clever play on words.)

Weir’s piece is a long one but there are some telling points I’m going to share before I launch into a series of guest posts from an American that did business in China successfully for a number of years. Each one of these guest posts stands alone but provides a glimpse into another person’s experience doing business in China.

However, in 2010, Apple was crucified in the Western media due to a number of suicide at Foxconn, which is the Taiwan owned company that assembles/manufactures about 90 percent of Apple’s products. If you were not aware of it before, many Taiwanese do business in China and Foxconn is an example.

In his piece, Weir said, “They (the suicides) went up during a three-month span in the spring of 2010, when nine Foxconn workers jumped to their deaths. A total of 18 Foxconn employees took their own lives, or tried to, in recent years and given the company’s massive size, it is a suicide rate well below China’s national average. But when people started jumping in a cluster, Woo tells me that Tim Cook rallied a team of psychiatric experts for advice. They suggested nets, on the chance it might save impulsive jumpers.

“But Foxconn wasn’t Apple’s only problem. The company says they stopped a supplier named Wintek from using a toxic chemical to clean iPhone screens after 137 workers were injured…

“Apple says they have been ordering audits of its suppliers since 2006, and since 2007 have been publishing the sometimes disturbing results…

“It is a Monday after a Chinese holiday, and since many overworked migrants will just stay home, the people who lined up before dawn know that the chances of getting an assembly line job are better than average. And in a country of 1.3 billion, where jobs are scarce, getting there first matters; especially for their families back in the village, where most of their paycheck will end up…

“Starting salary is around $285 a month or $1.78 an hour. And even with the maximum 80 hours of overtime a month, the Chinese government considers them too poor to withdraw any payroll taxes…

“We mostly found people who face their days through soul-crushing boredom and deep fatigue. Some complained of being overworked, others complained of being under worked and almost all said they were underpaid…

“We do have labor unions at Foxconn … but it’s not a freely elected labor union yet. I expect to see that in the next year or two, they will become more like a collective bargaining union, and they will be freely elected. In fact, I see that some legislations in more progressive provinces (of China) would require labor unions to be sitting on the board of companies…”

The exclusive full report from ABC’s “Nightline” will air Tuesday, February 21 at 11:35 p.m. US ET/PT. This link to Hulu is where much of the full episodes of “Nightline” are posted for online streaming the day after the original broadcast.

Continued February 22, 2012 in Americans doing Business in China – Part 2 (a guest post)


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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