In the virus-hit Chinese iPhone factory, workers protested and were beaten

BEIJING (AP) — Workers at the world’s largest Apple iPhone factory were beaten and detained in protests over wages under anti-virus surveillance, as tensions rose over China’s efforts to combat a resurgence of infections, according to witnesses and videos on social media Wednesday. .

The videos, said to have been taken at a factory in downtown Zhengzhou, showed thousands of masked men in white protective suits with plastic shields facing off against police. Police kicked and clubbed a protester after grabbing a metal pole used to beat him.

Frustration over restrictions has turned into protests in areas across China that have shuttered shops and offices and confined millions of people to their homes. In videos circulating on social media, residents are seen tearing down barricades erected to keep neighborhoods closed.

The ruling Communist Party has vowed this month to try to ease the disruptions by shortening quarantines and making other changes. But the party is sticking to its “zero-Covid” strategy, which aims to isolate every case while other governments relax controls and try to live with the virus.

Last month, thousands of workers walked out of Taiwan’s iPhone factory run by Foxconn Technology Group over complaints of unsafe working conditions after the virus outbreak.

The protest began on Tuesday over complaints that Foxconn changed conditions for new workers lured by offers of higher wages, according to one worker, Li Sanshan.

Li said he left the catering business in response to advertisements promising 25,000 yuan ($3,500) for two months’ work. Li, 28, said the workers were angry after being told they would have to work for two more months at lower wages to receive the 25,000 yuan.

“Foxconn made very attractive recruitment offers and employees came from all over the country, only to find they were being fooled,” Lee said.

Foxconn, headquartered in New Taipei, Taiwan, said in a statement that the “work allowance” was “always fulfilled based on the contractual obligation.”

Foxconn has denied comments online that workers with the virus are living in dormitories at its Zhengzhou factory. The facilities are disinfected and undergo government inspections before workers move in, he said.

“Regarding any incidents of violence, the company will continue to engage with employees and the government to ensure that similar incidents do not recur,” the company said in a statement.

Protests were fueled by the number and severity of outbreaks It has risen within China, prompting authorities in regions including the capital Beijing to lock down neighborhoods and impose other restrictions that residents say go beyond what the national government has allowed.

More than 253,000 cases have been detected in the past three weeks and the daily average is rising, the government said on Tuesday. This week, authorities reported the first COVID-19 deaths in China in six months.

On Wednesday, the government reported 28,883 cases detected in the past 24 hours, including 26,242 without symptoms. A total of 851 people were reported in Henan province, of which Zhengzhou is the capital.

Mi Feng, spokesman for the National Health Commission, said the government would implement its anti-COVID policy by “resolutely eliminating the mentality of paralysis and indifference”.

The city government of Guangzhou, where the largest outbreaks occurred, announced that it has opened 19 temporary hospitals with a total of 70,000 beds for coronavirus patients. The city announced plans last week to build hospitals and quarantine facilities for 250,000 people.

Also on Wednesday, Beijing opened a hospital at an exhibition center and suspended access to Beijing International Studies University after a case of the virus was detected there. The capital has previously closed shopping malls and office buildings and suspended access to some residential buildings.

Foxconn previously said its Zhengzhou factory uses “closed management,” meaning workers live in workplaces without outside contact.

The protest continued into Wednesday morning, Lee said, as thousands of workers gathered outside dormitories and confronted factory security guards.

Other videos showed demonstrators throwing fire extinguishers at police.

A video posted on the Sina Weibo social media platform calling on the demonstrators to withdraw showed a man posing as the Communist Party secretary in charge of public services. He promised that their demands will be met.

Apple Inc. has warned that the delivery of the new iPhone 14 model will be delayed due to disease control at the factory. The city government has blocked access to the industrial zone surrounding the factory, which Foxconn says employs 200,000 workers.

The ruling party has reportedly ordered “rooted cadres” to fill in for departing Foxconn workers in Zhengzhou. The company did not respond to requests for confirmation or details on the deal.


Zen Soo reported from Hong Kong. AP news assistant Caroline Chen contributed.

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