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Chinese Students Say They Are Being Forced To Build Your Next iPhone 481

Posted by samzenpus
from the after-school-job dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "Now that Apple is putting the finishing touches on the most anticipated smartphone in history, Chinese students are again being pressed into service on the factory line inside the largest single internship program in the world. This according to two separate stories in the Chinese press. A report today in the Shanghai Daily says that hundreds of students in the city of Huai'an were forced to help fulfill iPhone 5 orders starting last Thursday. Classes in town had allegedly been interrupted as a result, since the two-month long internships would fulfill the students' need to 'experience working conditions.'"
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Chinese Students Say They Are Being Forced To Build Your Next iPhone

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  • by BMOC (2478408) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @06:34PM (#41254335)

    ...so it evens out in college.

    //never actually worked in the food service industry
    ///maybe a small regret in my life

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @06:59PM (#41254631) Homepage Journal

      ...so it evens out in college.

      //never actually worked in the food service industry ///maybe a small regret in my life

      Sure, but 'Internship' doesn't necessarily mean they get pay, they just get credit. In college I was paid for my programming efforts (also got to use a little of it for credit :)

      ... and on my résumé, you can see I majored in slave labor ...

      • by jhoegl (638955) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @07:37PM (#41254991)

        ... and on my résumé, you can see I majored in slave labor ...

        And those that are aware of this should not purchase an iPhone.
        I am proud to not own an iPhone. I am proud in knowing that the % of profits from my phone are minimal and did not come from slave labor.
        Remember when people were proud to own USA items? Perhaps it is time to bring that back.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 06, 2012 @07:45PM (#41255083)

          ... and on my résumé, you can see I majored in slave labor ...

          And those that are aware of this should not purchase an iPhone.

          I am proud to not own an iPhone. I am proud in knowing that the % of profits from my phone are minimal and did not come from slave labor.

          Remember when people were proud to own USA items? Perhaps it is time to bring that back.

          Hear hear. Question: where do you find a phone that is made in the USA? AIUI, pretty much any smartphone you want to buy is made in China, in large part.

          • by Formalin (1945560)

            I don't think this has existed in recent history - I'd imagine old Motorolas were made here, though. Anyone know?

            My obsolete Nokia is made in Finland, and they had quite a bit of manufacturing capacity in Finland, Germany, and... Hungary? (until recently, at least. The slogging they've been getting doesn't give them the luxury of that anymore, I suppose, and they've been shutting down facilities). Their cheap models have been made in Korea and more recently China for some time, though.

            • I don't think this has existed in recent history - I'd imagine old Motorolas were made here, though. Anyone know?

              My obsolete Nokia is made in Finland, and they had quite a bit of manufacturing capacity in Finland, Germany, and... Hungary? (until recently, at least. The slogging they've been getting doesn't give them the luxury of that anymore, I suppose, and they've been shutting down facilities). Their cheap models have been made in Korea and more recently China for some time, though.

              Yup. This is the state of Nokia's Finland plant [www.hs.fi] these days...

              Anyway, wouldn't stuff made in South Korea be the best option right now? In terms of fair play and pay? It's a highly-developed country.

          • If a phone is made in the USA today, it will be mostly built by robots with only a few humans involved in the process.

            Any labor intensive parts that couldn't be done by a robot, will be done over seas.

            Otherwise the phones would be 100 to 300 dollars more expensive.

        • by decora (1710862) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @07:47PM (#41255099) Journal

          probably comes from the same factory as the iphone, or if not, then the factory down the street, and since nobody is putting pressure on Samsung to 'clean up its supply chain' (since its in Korea after all) then Samsung does not hire inspectors to go harass factory managers to clean up their act.

        • by sdguero (1112795)
          I will always own American made cars and I take pride in that. As for my motorcycles... Different story. ;)
        • by geekmux (1040042) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @10:24PM (#41256247)

          ...Remember when people were proud to own USA items? Perhaps it is time to bring that back.

          Remember when greed wasn't the cornerstone of the American Dream? Yeah, you would need to bring that back FIRST.

          (Unless you really wanted to pay $3000 for an American-made iPhone...)

        • by tsa (15680)

          Bullshit. Every other smartphone is made in the same way, in the same type of factories in China. It's just that because Apple is so visible we hear stories about the iPhone etc, but most other electronic devices are produced under the same conditions.

      • My wife did this (Score:5, Informative)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @11:19PM (#41256523)

        Sure, but 'Internship' doesn't necessarily mean they get pay, they just get credit.

        My wife is Chinese and during college all students do an internship where they work on a factory floor, or on a farm, or do a stint in the military. She worked in a car factory in Tianjin, installing door handles. She was paid the same as the factory workers, which was not much in those days, but enough to live on.

    • by siddesu (698447) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @07:27PM (#41254899)

      "Forced" doesn't mean "I had to do it because I needed the money" in China. There, as elsewhere in the Communist world, there is this thing called "brigadier movement", where students (highschool and university) and sometimes older people "volunteer" to help some sector of the economy, usually for free (awful) food and no pay.

      When I was a kid, we used to "help" agriculture most often, at it was the most underpopulated sector. The "help" would usually take place around the start of the school year, during the time of the harvest, but also during the summer vacation.

      From the description of the article I think this is the same thing -- the authorities rounding up people to "help" the industry.

      The only difference is that when I was doing it, we were doing it for the "country". Now it is for Foxconn.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ColdWetDog (752185)

        The only difference is that when I was doing it, we were doing it for the "country". Now it is for Foxconn.

        There is a difference?

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Say, when will the revolt begin?
        • by siddesu (698447)
          When Zombie Reagan comes out of the grave to marry the Iron Lady and destroy what he left of the Communist Menace last time around I suppose.
        • The last time that China had a serious uprising the protesters were machine gunned in the streets and nothing changed. In China those who complain are dealt with quickly and severely. A Chinese person can be disappeared for speaking out. If you're a foreigner, they probably just kick you out of the country after confiscating all your data storage devices. Protesting in China is dangerous and in a very immediate sort of way.
      • Sounds like the Chinese are doing it for "China" (to keep the jobs from being outsourced elsewhere). I guess from that POV, it's no different from your experience after all. But then again, America has been facing the whole Intern Nation phenomenon as of late too.

      • by icebike (68054) *

        "Forced" doesn't mean "I had to do it because I needed the money" in China.
        From the description of the article I think this is the same thing -- the authorities rounding up people to "help" the industry.
        The only difference is that when I was doing it, we were doing it for the "country". Now it is for Foxconn.

        Well apparently the international attention this story is receiving has attracted the attention of Apple and the Chinese Government.
        Its not clear who acted first, but it appears the Government has ordered an end to the practice [shanghaidaily.com] of using students to to fulfil industrial orders.

        According to the statement, the Huai'an government has ordered higher education institutions to strictly follow the policies and correct the violations. But students who volunteered to do internship in the factory could stay, China National Radio reported yesterday.

        So now only [cough] "Volunteers" are used for this purpose.

        I'm sure you meant to say that when you were a kid you were offered the opportunity to "Volunteer" in the fields, right?
        I'm sure your relatives still living in the area "Volunt

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463)

        "Forced" doesn't mean "I had to do it because I needed the money" in China.

        Correct. In China it means "I had to do it to get college credit."

        Is it really so wrong to require students to get some practical experience?

  • by Lumpio- (986581) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @06:36PM (#41254361)
    Based on which measurement?
  • by stevez67 (2374822) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @06:50PM (#41254525)
    No independent confirmation; "someone posting under the name of Dalingzhuimengnan said" and "radio reports" and statements from Universities about internships ... all the links lead back to one Shanghai Daily article. This "journalism" needs fact checking and verification. It may be true or it may not. Time will tell. You may now resume backing Apple as if the other phones made in China wouldn't use similar tactics if they could get away with it.
    • by jeko (179919) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @07:43PM (#41255057)

      China doesn't have an adversarial and independent press (though God knows it could be argued the US doesn't have one anymore either). When things like this happen, the best you're going to get are strangled, scattered reports in fitful sporadic bursts, as happened in our own (US) revolution.

      Responsible journalism would involve a reporter going out to investigate the reports and interview the people on the scene. The government won't allow it. So now you're in a similar situation where the police get a call about a wife beater. They go to the accused man's house and find there's blood on his sleeveless t-shirt, they can hear sobbing inside, but he won't let them in the door. Suddenly you have to take those few scattered reports a lot more seriously.

      Various students are reporting they've been pressed into service by a dictatorial government. The dictatorial government in question isn't allowing anyone to investigate their claims. The government's behavior in and of itself tends to corroborate the students' reports, especially given the previous history of the factory in question.

  • So, what...? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sez Zero (586611) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @06:53PM (#41254559) Journal
    Does that mean there's a labor shortage in China? If so, then things are about to get interesting.
  • They're not building my next iPhone!

  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @07:01PM (#41254643)

    Seriously here, when will the world wise up to the fact that "cheap cinese labor" has costs that don't tabulate out cleanly on expense sheets and quarterly reports?

    Is getting your technology for fractions of a cent per transistor worth.... this?

    Do the affluent of today not know that this kind of despotism breeds civil unrest, government oppression, and the degredation of what it means to be a human being?

    Do they even care?

    A worker's paradise indeed. Does anyone know of any electronics makers who don't abuse another country's willingness to throw its own people under the bus for money?

    • by jdastrup (1075795)
      1. Never
      2. Yes
      3. Yes
      4. No
      5. Not any profitable ones.
    • by zlives (2009072)

      about the time the Chinese labor wises up... but as long as they are ok to be exploited.. who am i to argue.
      now don't bother me as i go to vote for one of two parties (not candidates)

    • by Solandri (704621)

      Does anyone know of any electronics makers who don't abuse another country's willingness to throw its own people under the bus for money?

      See, the thing is, willingness to throw its own people under the bus for money is part of the process of how a country rises from an undeveloped to an industrialized nation. If you're a dirt-poor backwater country, you don't have much you can offer to a business. Your infrastructure sucks, your average level of education is sub-par, transportation is non-existent, and t

  • by turp182 (1020263) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @07:02PM (#41254653) Journal
    Different countries have different labor situations. Protest with your wallet, or lack thereof.
    • by Misagon (1135)

      I have never bought a cell phone in my life. Do you really think my inaction will make a difference?

      (all my cell phones have been gifts or company phones)

  • The slaves of Terra are being summoned again to fulfill the species needs.

  • by theodp (442580) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @07:15PM (#41254771)

    Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]: "At the time it was evident that Edina was still a farming town, since school vacations coincided with spring planting and fall harvesting so the children could help in the fields."

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @07:20PM (#41254837) Homepage

    19 USC 1307 [cornell.edu]:

    All goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by convict labor or/and forced labor or/and indentured labor under penal sanctions shall not be entitled to entry at any of the ports of the United States, and the importation thereof is hereby prohibited, and the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized and directed to prescribe such regulations as may be necessary for the enforcement of this provision. ...

    'Forced labor', as herein used, shall mean all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty for its nonperformance and for which the worker does not offer himself voluntarily. For purposes of this section, the term "forced labor or/and indentured labor" includes forced or indentured child labor.

    Anyone now has the right to file a complaint that could result in all iPhone 5 units incoming to the US be impounded at U.S. customs. This includes competitors.

    • by Velex (120469)

      Good luck with that. You must be from that parallel universe where laws are made out of words that have meanings. I'll bet marihuana is legal over there too and alcohol illegal, since alcohol fits the bill for a Schedule I substance, while marihuana misses on most if not all criteria.

      Besides, who cares about heathen yellow people anyway? If they were half as virtuous as us, they'd stage a rebellion and overthrow the communist government and welcome God and Man Jesus and everything would be magically m

    • Which since penal sanctions were not involved does not apply. At least given the syntax of the statute.

    • by jeti (105266)

      Isn't convict labor common inside the US?

  • http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-26/news/ct-met-new-harper-college-jobs-program-20120627_1_manufacturing-summit-harper-college-production-workers [chicagotribune.com]

    That is a community college offering a trades based learning plan with real PAID work as part of class plan.

    this Chinese thing seems like we don't care what your field is go work in this factory doing a line job with no learning plan tied to the work.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @07:23PM (#41254863) Homepage Journal

    Unpaid internships are the new black (market labor).

    One political party wants to repeal minimum wage laws, child labor laws, and the entire category "labor laws".

    Take a good look at what happens when you have a government that wants to "unleash business". And polish that resume, or you might not get that unpaid internship (I wonder if they give them free pizza).

    Who's calling the shots in China? Hu Jintao or Apple?

    In related news, Mitt Romney sees cold fusion [boingboing.net] as the future of "basic science", so clearly things are looking up here in the 'States.

    Good night, God bless you, and God bless America.

  • Too bad governments over here don't force students in useless arts, latin, and philosophy degrees to do the same.

  • It couldn't help but remind me of this Simpson title scene. http://popwatch.ew.com/2010/10/11/the-simpsons-banksy-opening-sequence/ [ew.com]
  • If there's any truth to the news, then surely one of those "disgruntled" students could be given an incentive to spill the beans on the specs or the look of the new iPhone? Even an actual photo would be possible. I'm sure there are tech "news" orgs out there willing to shell a few grand for even a low-res photo taken via a spy cam that can easily be tucked into the workers' underwear or body cavity. This can be foiled of course if Foxconn security does a strip/cavity search of each worker entering the facto

  • by PaulBu (473180) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @07:58PM (#41255181) Homepage

    ... we, university students (personal experience), but also, I've heard more seniour people in "intellectual" line of employment were forced in the Fall to go help our collectivized farmers pick up potatoes and do some other harvest-related work. (Kartoshka! ;-) )...

    I do not know if, given my current line work, I would enjoy assembling high-tech stuff more than that (and would definitely learn more from it), but, overall, I, personally, did not mind at all, it was an excuse to live outside the control of our parents (for those of us who did not go to school in another city/lived in dorm which was less common than in this country), get as drunk as our farmer hosts, shmooze with girls, etc. ;-) As to actual work -- my buddies and myself self-organized to proclaim that we are going to do actual "hard" work, loading bags of potato on trucks, while the rest do "easy" part, pick and load the bags... Of course it would take much more actual time to fill a bag than to throw it into the truck, the rest we spent hanging out and baking potatoes!

    Somehow I think that efficiency necessary to assemble iPhones would preclude those Chinese kids to have any good times though, but do not think that it was/is not common in "Communist" countries.

    (And, no, we did not get paid, unless you could a bag of potatos which you might or might not sneak back home at the end).

    Paul B.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @08:00PM (#41255211) Journal

    iPhone purchasers will be ok with it.

  • Confirmation (Score:4, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @11:59PM (#41256687) Homepage

    This is even showing up in newspapers in China [shanghaidaily.com] and on China National Radio, which is state-controlled. The state-controlled media point out that Foxconn is run from Taiwan. The city government of Huai has stepped in and send some of the students back to school.

    Somebody should raise enough hell to have IPhone 5 shipments seized at US Customs while this issue is resolved. Customs can hold them up to 3 months for investigation.

  • by matunos (1587263) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:29AM (#41256797)

    ... they should petition their government about that.

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