Foxconn, a 400,000 employee company (factory is more apt) in Shenzhen, China has reported its 8th suicide this year. A reporter went undercover for 28 days at the factory and filed a report:

Shenzhen, a once small border town that leaped to one of Pearl River Delta’s busiest cities, hides a group of anxious young people behind row upon row of tall buildings. In 2009, Times magazine nominated “The Chinese Worker” as “Person of the Year,” praising its “determined vision shone on the future of mankind,”* but this so-called “determination” is needed to resist being mechanized and eroded by capitalism. Can they really avoid such “determination?” When computers, phones, cars, and all other commercial products become the products of capitalism, sweat, youth, and even life, all these values are exhausted by capitalism as well.

This super factory that holds some 400,000 people isn’t the “sweatshop” that most would imagine. It provides accommodation that reaches the scale of a medium-sized town, all smooth and orderly. Compared to others, the facilities here are well-equipped and superior, with employee treatment meeting standard specifications. Thousands of people flock here each day just to find a place of their own, to find a dream that they’ll probably never realize.

A Chinese news channel covered it too (you’ll need to enable Close Captioning and translate to English):


The suicides are unfortunate, and clearly point to some problem in the process. From what I’ve read, the national average number of suicides in China is 13 per 100,000. The numbers from Foxconn seem smaller in comparison, but if there is something common to all suicides, it can be prevented.

To be honest, as someone from India, no other part of the report about living conditions shocked me. I don’t say I’m insensitive to those bits, but it is one of those things that one becomes less sensitive to. For instance, if you consider the living conditions of an average house-maid in India, it would seem pathetic to someone from a developed nation. We, on the other hand, live with it without being affected to the same extent.

I don’t think someone from the West is more sensitive, or that we are less. It’s just relative.