Foxconn won't sue over fabricated radio brickbats
'Our corporate image has been totally ruined,' but that's okay
The Chinese contract manufacturer vilified in the now-discredited public radio broadcast assailing its working conditions may be licking its wounds, but it won't seek redress in court.
"Our corporate image has been totally ruined," Foxconn spokesman Simon Hsing told Reuters. "The point is whatever media that cited the program should not have reported it without confirming [with us]."
Despite that ruined reputation and lack of fact-checking, Hsing said, "We have no plans to take legal action." Not to be too cynical – or too realistic – but the decision to forgo legal action may well have been motivated by Foxconn's desire to avoid scrutiny of the conditions to which it subjects its workers.
The program to which Hsing refers, "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory," an except from Mike Daisey's one-man show, "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," was broadcast in January on the popular US public radio show "This American Life".
Subsequent research by China-based American Public Media correspondent Rob Schmitz revealed that Daisey had fabricated significant parts of what he reported to have been his actual experiences when speaking with Foxconn employees. As a result, "This American Life" retracted the story last Friday,.
The irony in this entire imbroglio, of course, is that conditions at Foxconn and other Chinese manufacuring plants are, indeed, grim. The company – a contract manufacturer for Amazon, Apple, Dell, HP, Microsoft, and others, reportedly – has been repeatedly upbraided for its dismal working conditions.
The focus on American companies' use of Chinese factories to assemble their gadget goodies – a spotlight that has to this point been aimed almost exclusively at Apple – has caused Foxconn and others to react, in part, by raising wages in its digital sweatshops.
That's all well and good, of course, for the Chinese men and women who have migrated from the countryside by the millions to work in that country's swiftly expanding industrial centers – if they can keep their jobs, that is. It seems that the ever-pesky law of unintended consequences has struck again: some major contract manufacturers are now exploring moving out of China, with the Phillipines being one beneficiary of that exodus.
While Foxconn's image may have been "totally ruined", there are plenty of other firms ready to take any contracts that foreign companies might withdraw from that Taiwan-based mega-manufacturer's parent company, Hon Hai Precision Industry. And those companies will both provide needed employment to the impoverished and likely subject them to dismal working conditions.
The rapid industrialization of Asia and its benefits to and exploitation of its citizens is a complex matter, one not easily summed up in fabicated theater pieces or resolved through feel-good petition drives.
But at least we, lounging in our comfy salons, won't have to endure the sordid spectacle of Foxconn dragging "This American Life" into court. Thank heaven for small favors. ®
Re: Anyone else getting tired..
@The Man Who Fell To Earth: Yes, we heard you the first time.
Seriously. Nobody cares.
if they did, there would be no market for the cheap electronic goods manufactured in their factories. But there is, so clearly nobody actually gives as much of a shit as the media would like us to.
I suspect people are finally learning to 'tune out' all the endless exhortations to take on the responsibility of entire foreign populations for no other reason than that their living standards aren't quite the same as our own. And this is a Good Thing. Every Western nation went through a process of revolutions, civil wars, etc. There were no major superpowers or "developed" nations back then to give us a helping hand in the form of misguided charity. So we had to do it ourselves.
And we did. The early Victorians thought nothing of sending small children up chimneys to clean them. The later Victorians, on the other hand, thought nothing of building entire new communities, with decent housing (for the time), decent infrastructure—even running water!—and more. And then there were the schools, the creation of a national health service, of free education, of even package holidays. Our ancestors did all that. They built it all, from nothing, by investing wisely. They debated every move. They argued. They chained themselves to railings to obtain female suffrage, and much more.
Yet now we believe that a nation of 1.6 billion people cannot do this on their own? That they "need" our nannying? That they "need" our help to guide them?
Stop being so bloody patronising. They're human beings, just like us. They'll work it out. They'll tread their own path and come out of it far stronger than they would if we continue to interfere blindly with their societies. We need to leave them alone to get on with it.
(Yes, this means some blood may be shed, but Iraq and Afghanistan haven't been exactly bloodless interventions. Neither was the UN's attempts to stop the former Yugoslavia's breaking turning violent. And that's before we get to the likes of Israel and her fractious relationships with her neighbours.)
Re: Anyone else getting tired..
Starving to death or getting torn to shreds in a old lowest cost unsafe machine are both crappy choices. In addition from children being forced to work in firework factories or common rampant slave labor you falsely assume people always have a choice as well. Trade agreements that do nothing to standardize basic working conditions is virtually demanding slavery and of course the free market will naturally gravitate to the place with the best value from workers (ie until the rest of the world is somewhat developed where workers are exploited the most).
Re: @Sean Timarco Baggaley - Anyone else getting tired..
> If I remember well, one present day superpower just a few centuries ago used to go to Africa, hunt and capture human beings that were subsequently sold on the free market as slaves.
You clearly DON'T remember well, it was Africans selling Africans to the slave traders at the port, it was far easier and safer to say to the local tribes can we buy some slaves from you? They traditionally used captured enemy's so why not sell them on to the slave ship owners, about the only thing that happened was the numbers of taken as slaves compared to the numbers of killed in tribal warfare went up.
I am not saying that the white slave traders are innocent, but let's not distort the fact that the trade wouldn't have existed for so long or as easily flourished with the complicity of Africans.
> And their northern neighbor who now admits that when building a coast-to-coast railway, a Chinese died for every few meters of rail laid down.
Yes and it was also about the only area they could get any decent payed employment in, Also it's worth noting when the Union rail-road company reached the mountains they expected high casualties with there mostly white workforce, the only reason they avoided it was they merged with the Pacific rail road company because the work was already done. I am not saying they where treated well because quite frankly there where not treated as well as they could or should have been, but the fact is they where not forced into working on the railroad construction but they took the work anyway, even knowing the risks.
There has been times recently when I have had to contemplate working for minimum wage for long hours, rather than working in a environment I have enjoyed but given the choice between £6.25 a hour or being on benefits I would have worked for the £6.25 a hour thank you very much.
/ annoyed end of a bad day rant.