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This Chinese story is full of crazy twists

Apple is apparently hard at work cooking up what will become the successor to the iPhone 3G S.  In China, an army of parts designers are working on the phone's circuit boards and components.  Leading them is Foxconn in Shenzhen, a city in the industry-heavy Guangdong province near Hong Kong.

At Foxconn, a 25-year-old college graduate working in product communications, Yong Sun Dan, was in charge of the phone's prototypes.  On Thursday, July 9, he set out to pick up 16 prototype units from the factory.  He would later discover that one was missing according to DigitalBeat.  His theory was that he left it at the factory.  On Monday, July 13 he unhappily reported it to his boss.

Two days later, three Foxconn employees broke into his apartment and searched it.  Sun, according to an IM exchange, also may have been detained and physically abused during the search. 

The story came to an end of Thursday at 3 a.m. when Yong Sun Dan leapt from the window of his apartment building to his death.  The tragic story showcases the potentially deadly game of intrigue and leaks that blog sites play.  On the other side of the aisle, it shows the tremendous pressure that manufacturers like Foxconn feel about defending the secrecy of its star products.

Steven Lin, a Chinese blogger and marketer, perhaps sums it up best, writing:

Students [like Sun] have been studying in schools for years, and they have been carefully protected by their parents. They can’t endure such pressure - ‘their house being illegally searched,’ or ‘house arrests’ (if that’s true, according some reports news). Employees at these and other factories sometimes kill themselves simply because of the pressure from their daily jobs — you know what’s going to happen when they face more serious threats. Also, most young Chinese guys don’t have friends who are lawyers, so they don’t know how to protect themselves in the legal system. They won’t even look for help from the legal system. They will just endure the pressure, and finally find an extreme way to end all their troubles.

The security division at Foxconn -- the so-called Gu Central Security Division -- has been suspended without pay.  Foxconn Technology Group chief executive, general manager of business and Li Jinming has personally apologized as well to the loved ones of the deceased and says the death greatly distressed him.

In the end, the mysterious death of Sun stands out as a shocking story, even in a country that publicly executed its quality control minister for accepting bribes and allowing contaminated antibiotics onto the market a mere year ago.  Was the foul play greater than it seemed?  What really happened to the phone?  We may never know, but the story will hopefully pressure China's tech industry to reform its ways.

Updated 7/21/2009
Apple has released a statement to CNET regarding the death. "We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee, and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death. We require our suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect," said Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet.



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By Insomniator on 7/21/2009 9:49:27 AM , Rating: -1
except for the fact they kill themselves under pressure?

there's always a catch...




By kattanna on 7/21/2009 10:10:52 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
At least they take responsibility for their actions. I'm not condoning suicide here, but it would be nice if sometimes the guy who messed up would admit to it and resign or pay back damages. Honor is a good thing to have.


taking responsibility for ones action is NOT the same as killing oneself.

while at first glance, it may appear honorable, in fact its an act of total cowardice.


By Brandon Hill (blog) on 7/21/2009 10:22:03 AM , Rating: 3
It is cowardice.

Suicide is a long-term solution to a short-term problem.

It would take balls to shoot an innocent woman in the head with a gun, but that doesn't make it brave.


By twhittet on 7/21/2009 1:48:14 PM , Rating: 3
Cowardice is a choice.

I agree 100%. If he so chose to kill himself when there were other options, he chose to be a coward.


By snikt on 7/21/2009 1:50:21 PM , Rating: 5
He wasn't afraid to die. He was afraid to live.


By Leirith on 7/22/2009 6:44:41 PM , Rating: 2
Probably both.


By Gul Westfale on 7/21/2009 4:16:47 PM , Rating: 5
how easy it is to judge another's predicament from the comfort of one's living room.


By Gul Westfale on 7/21/2009 5:48:45 PM , Rating: 5
you don't even know why he killed himself, if in fact he did kill himself and was not killed by someone else. you are just trying to sound tough on the internet. that might not make you a coward, but it makes you an idiot.


By Maxima2k2se on 7/22/2009 4:25:42 PM , Rating: 2
LMAO I do not give 2 sh*ts about what his reasons for doing it were. My point stands, if he did do it he is a coward. Suicide is the most cowardly selfish act that a person can commit against his self or family. There is nothing worth killing yourself over. Suck it up get the help you need and move on with life.

P.S. If I wanted to sound tough on the internet I would have said something like "Ill kick your a$$". Nice attempt though!


By Gul Westfale on 7/22/2009 10:50:40 PM , Rating: 2
you do not have a point. suicide is a personal thing, as is every decision made in life- only the one living that life can make that decision. some decisions are cowardly, yes; but others only seem so on the surface.

many spies or high-ranking soldiers committed suicide rather than surrendering, because in their view surrendering would have been the cowardly choice. erwin rommel killed himself to save his family.

you have no idea why this man did what he did, and while you may have made a different choice, he was unable to do so.

that you would call someone in such a situation of despair a coward shows a lack of empathy and a rush to judgment on your part.

everyone needs help every once in a while. it is not a shame to admit it. it is sad that no one was able to help him, or that he felt that no one was going to help if he had asked.


By chick0n on 7/21/2009 11:01:12 AM , Rating: 2
what kind of law did Cali had back in the late 1800s till 1945 ?

you might want to check.


By sxr7171 on 7/21/2009 5:09:54 PM , Rating: 4
Thanks for pointing that out. This is nothing new in the history of the world. It's just that we can today sit here smug and point our fingers.

Things were just as bad or worse right here in the US during the industrial revolution. Downright barbaric in fact. I'm glad I stayed awake in American History class just to be aware of that fact. The textile mills of Lowell, MA were the example we were given.

They too lived in their factories, they were treated like cattle, they were given up by society to produce and their lives had no value either. It happens whenever there is an industrial revolution in any country. Just because we are past that stage in our history doesn't suddenly give us the right to judge other cultures all of a sudden. If anything it is our need to consume like pigs with no concept of saving for tomorrow that causes this to happen in other countries. Just be thankful we found a way to make other places bear the burden of our insatiable appetite for consumer goods.


By theapparition on 7/21/2009 6:01:43 PM , Rating: 1
Sorry, but I have to disagree.

While everything you said is true, I have to point out one flaw in your logic.

You say not to point fingers, but as a more civilized society, wouldn't you agree that we have the responsibility not to patronize countries that have abhorant civil rights? Why perpetuate the cycle of violations?

One other thing as well.....when the industrial revolution hit the US and Europe, name one country that offered thier citizens higher standards of living. Atlantis doesn't count :P


By TSS on 7/21/2009 9:08:03 PM , Rating: 3
and i'll point the flaw out in your logic: you assume we are a more civilized society. i beg to differ.

sure, we don't have 10 year old children dieing every day in factories anymore. these days, we prefer to have chinese 10 year old children dieing in sweatshops every day. sure the chinese rape human rights, but who gives a damn, it's cheap (IMO, ethically, that's even worse).

sure we don't have to pay nigh everything we earn to our landlord. instead we pay nigh everything we earn to our landlord (bank's mortgage) AND our king (government) directly in federal income tax, as opposed to through the chain of nobility.

oh and try this out for the fun of it. cancal all your insurance, all of it, then sustain a mortal wound (something that'll kill you in a day if you don't get treatment) and go to a random hospital. lets just see how much life is worth these days.

finger pointing isn't a bad thing. pointing and not realizing your standing infront of a giant mirror, that's a shame though.


By theapparition on 7/22/2009 8:33:08 AM , Rating: 3
You've countered with no logic, just a random string of grievences. I was responding to the OPs assertion that we were once a "third world" country too. That wasn't true, since there was no "first world" country at the time. Plus the world was isolated and in no way interconnected as it is now. Times have changed, and the assertion that just becuase we had a history of human rights violations does not mean that we should turn a blind eye towards the current violations being committed right now.

Reguarding your first point of children dieing in foreign countries, that was exactly my point, so thanks for agreeing. We should chose to be better and not patronize those countries. We in turn would have to accept the higher prices that would entail. I for one refuse to buy a myriad of products from China, paying sometimes much more, but I also know the quality is better. However, in many instances, there is no alternative to Chinese made items.

Your second point is of little merit. With reguard to bank financing, work harder to pay off your mortgage. Why is that anyone else's problem. I don't have a mortgage because I do quite well.
While the entire founding of this country was based on leaving the aristrocrocy and gaining freedom and landownership, government taxes have been in effect for too long, and guess what, the american people consistantly vote for candidates that promote bigger government. You can whine all you want (myself included) but until your fellow citizens wake up and realize that bigger govenrment is bad, taxes, including property taxes, will continue to increase.

And your third point is completely off base. Hospitals are required to provide services to anyone in need. It is illegal and unethical for them to turn you away. Hospitals get paid by the states coverage for the uninsured, and surprisingly, that coverage is usually higher than the negotiated rates provided by insurance companies. Of course that money comes from the state taxpayers.


By akugami on 7/21/2009 3:57:02 PM , Rating: 5
I am Chinese and I take exception to that comment. I'm not saying the Chinese are the nicest people in the world, far from it in fact, but we're no more prone to torturing people than any other race or culture.

Look at the history books and you'll see most cultures and races have a bloody past. The Chinese are no exception. To a degree, China as it currently exists was brought about by western influences. Don't get me wrong, many of the influences were beneficial. Western countries improved upon many Chinese inventions and of course the original ideas or inventions were Chinese so China as well as the western countries benefited.

Then there was the negatives such as the Opium Wars where Britain defied China's drug laws and smuggled Opium into China. This eventually led to war and China's defeat as well as the spiral that signaled the fall of Imperial China and later the rise of Communist China.

While I'm not condoning some of the acts of the current Chinese government, the Chinese people as a whole are not evil nor do we relish in torturing our own or even other peoples.


By AlmostExAMD on 7/22/2009 3:10:01 AM , Rating: 3
Tibet?


By TSS on 7/22/2009 7:41:05 AM , Rating: 2
chinese people !== chinese government. they might be turning kapitalist, but it's still ways off from a democracy.


By alexfenway on 7/22/2009 11:13:42 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, having lived in china my experience is Chinese people are good and kind, and will take very good care of people in their relational circles. However, there seems to be a lack of compassion and concern for strangers, like they can't quite sympathize with others well. Perhaps that is why so many of their police officers are capable of horrible tortures of men and women who have only committed political wrongs and have not done anything immoral. In short, Chinese are some of my favorite people, but I'm concerned about how they treat strangers.


By Mojo the Monkey on 7/21/2009 12:31:27 PM , Rating: 5
My money is on there having been no witnesses to the suicide... and a boot-shaped bruise on his back after having landed face first.


By SilthDraeth on 7/21/2009 7:41:10 PM , Rating: 4
I have to say I am outraged by people's general stance on suicide.

It should always be a person's choice when and how they die. One should not be considered a coward for choosing to die, instead of live.

Was that old man composer and his old wife cowards, when she found she was terminally ill with cancer and had weeks to live, and the composer guy was going deaf and blind, so they chose to die together in a hospital while holding hands?

There are differences obviously between that story and this one, but they are both suicide.

So get off your high horses and let the person's death be in peace and not scrutinized and called a coward.


By Smilin on 7/21/2009 10:52:42 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, Really.

I'll dare to call him a coward too.

Sure it took some bravery to jump but that was really just an escape from something that took even more bravery: facing up to life's troubles.


By rdeegvainl on 7/21/2009 11:14:10 AM , Rating: 5
your post is missing one important detail... the point.


By Smilin on 7/21/2009 12:38:35 PM , Rating: 3
A disorder could be the cause the act of cowardice but it remains cowardice.

Asking for help would be embarrasing and on some level admitting there is something wrong with you. Asking for help despite these tough consequences would be the true act of bravery.


By erple2 on 7/21/2009 4:08:00 PM , Rating: 2
And in a non-Chinese society, I'd agree with you. However, I don't know how Chinese society and culture values the life of the individual over the collective whole, as I'm not Chinese. I can say here that there's no bravery in suicide, but that's my Western Social Philosophy slant. Eastern Social Philosophy has a very different take on the value of human life.

You can liken this to Honor/Dishonor, I suppose - is it perceived in the society to be more dishonorable to kill one's self over an incident than to face the result of your actions, or is it less dishonorable? How does Honor play a part in one's self-being, from a societal standpoint? These are questions I don't know the answer to.

I can give you my Western take on that. It's generally not very brave to take one's own life. I suppose one could cook up a couple of exceptions, though. Asking for help in a society that values some notion of your own strength over other things means that asking for help may be a larger dishonor than simply offing yourself. I don't know. And, I think that you don't either.


By Smilin on 7/21/2009 11:41:25 AM , Rating: 1
Somehow because I'm alive and haven't committed suicide you think I must be stricken with a mental disorder?

Thanks for the lesson there Sigmund.


By Smilin on 7/21/2009 12:41:04 PM , Rating: 2
Just responding to the guy who said I wasn't coping well.

Garbage in, garbage out.


By tastyratz on 7/21/2009 2:45:32 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed on the suspicion.
At what point was it determined a suicide? is that the official coroners explanation? Did they find a note in his handwriting?


By AlmostExAMD on 7/22/2009 3:18:42 AM , Rating: 2
You brave enough to go over there and say what your saying here to his relatives or are you a coward? Only cowards are the ones who don't jump!
Facing up to life's troubles in a communist country,being beaten in jail or having your family suffer,Yeah great one.
He would probably never find another job afterwards for life,and relatives would be shunned upon also.
His life his choice not yours!


By Aloonatic on 7/21/2009 5:41:51 PM , Rating: 5
Let's not be quite so quick to judge here. You're judging the guys actions through western eyes, with a western mindset.

We have very different attitudes towards suicide and western societies have been affected greatly by the opinions of the catholic church, whether we like it or not, which in turn has a big affect on how you perceive the act of suicide, the reasons for it and how we should judge the participant.

In non western cultures suicide is viewed very differently and not some cowardly "sin", but that's how we see it as that is how we have been told to think about it.

One thing that is for sure, taking your own life is not easy, nor "total cowardice". Feel free to prove me wrong, but I guarantee that you'll find it the hardest thing you've ever tried to do..... or your money back.


By GeorgeOu on 7/21/2009 6:11:13 PM , Rating: 2
You're right. It's not appropriate to call this guy a coward. He was sadly confused for sure, but he's not a coward. Even if he took the prototype, he should have just accepted the punishment. The company was definitely wrong here and they exerted an enormous amount of pressure on the kid. The kid probably thought his reputation and his life was over.


By AlmostExAMD on 7/22/2009 3:24:41 AM , Rating: 2
Perfectly said! They have absolutely no idea what must go though one's mind at that very moment. There is no second chance once you are 100% sure and you make the decision to go through with it,Definitely not cowardice deiciding wether to live or die.


By Smilin on 7/22/2009 11:21:00 AM , Rating: 1
Give me a break.

This guy didn't fail his feudal lord on the battlefield. He lost a f'n iPhone.

I understand the honor crap but keep it in perspective.


By Aloonatic on 7/22/2009 12:14:57 PM , Rating: 2
What?

Sometimes the people on this site just boggle my mind.


By Smilin on 7/22/2009 4:09:28 PM , Rating: 1
Learn to follow a thread then.


By Aloonatic on 7/23/2009 3:57:20 AM , Rating: 3
I am? I'm following it in the context of the article too. I'm not really sure what you are following however.

You seem to be following it in the contest of some insurance claim about any old lost iPhone, completely devoid of empathy, with a cursory acknowledgement of other cultures and behaviours but with the understanding that they are wrong and how you think can be only way to think about it correctly.

Typical DT contributor behaviour really.


By mead drinker on 7/21/2009 5:47:33 PM , Rating: 3
Am I the only person that read the article and interpreted this poor individual's suicide as a direct result of the violation he experienced from those that broke and entered his home and allegedly abused him? To my understanding his personal right to his domicile was violated in addition to any other actions that may have been taken against him. Reading this article from the perspective of a native of the U.S only offers a glimpse into the disruption this incident may have caused in this person's mind. We take many liberties for granted and therefore our own homes serve only as a microcosm of the freedoms afforded to us. In China an individual’s home may be the only sanctuary of liberty and the violation of such can prove to be a formidable motive to a person’s suicide. Let’s be clear, this is not some romanticized idea of seppuku or the like because of an established honor code but rather the degradation of one's psyche due in part to the actions taken by some corporate vigilantes. To chastise the actions of the deceased, and call them cowardice is ignorant. Furthermore, the debate whether it is honorable or not is an argument affirmed on either side of a religious paradigm and therefore intolerant on all accounts. I sincerely provide my condolences to the family and apologize for any small part that I may have played by being a frequent visitor of this site, that like many, lead to the perpetuation of events like these by habitually exploiting individuals to make a headline and the sensation they stir.


By Boze on 7/22/2009 2:28:48 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Am I the only person that read the article and interpreted this poor individual's suicide as a direct result of the violation he experienced from those that broke and entered his home and allegedly abused him?


Good thing black people in the United States weren't so frail, otherwise all the other disparate groups in our country would still be suffering from lack of civil rights... gays, lesbians, etc. would all have a tough time.


By robinthakur on 7/22/2009 8:54:57 AM , Rating: 2
The only thing I found more saddening than the article itself, was certain people's bewildering reactions to it. Whether you personally think he was a coward or not, with your comfortable western mindset and lifestyle is unimportant.

The reality is that a 25 year old young man with an education and tremendous potential is dead having allegedly killed himself. Have some sensitivity, dignity and don't speak ill of the departed, who must have been under such unimaginable pressure that ending his own life seemed the best way out. Imagine what would have to go wrong in your lives to make you want to end your life, and you might understand. You all act like your view of the world is formed by playing Gears of War, reading the bible and watching Army recruitment videos, which probably isn't far wrong.


By putergeek00 on 7/21/2009 10:28:35 AM , Rating: 1
Hmmm... Well educated, has access to iPhone prototypes.

Im just guessing but I'd say he probably thought of that before he jumped.


By wayout41 on 7/21/2009 10:44:08 AM , Rating: 2
Very true, also realised after typing that its very insensitive.


By Iaiken on 7/21/2009 10:52:46 AM , Rating: 2
That would require the phone have a number assigned to it by a provider.


By Iaiken on 7/21/2009 3:50:53 PM , Rating: 5
Wow... way to go off the deep end over someone sacrificing accuracy for conciseness... perhaps you should switch to decaf?

If you want to get completely technical, the number isn't assigned to the sim card either. The service-subscriber key that is stored on the sim card is assigned to a phone number and not vice versa.

But by all means, keep freaking out over it...


By sxr7171 on 7/21/2009 5:40:20 PM , Rating: 2
Well he does bring up a good point though. If these prototypes are so valuable there should be GPS or RFID tracking built into them. Heck where's MobileMe tracking when you need it?

Yes, I know. I said that last part in jest since I know it can't be relied on in a device that may or may not be "live", but some form of RFID protection was needed and one would think that a technological solution should have been implemented rather than this one of threats and illegal searches.


By Iaiken on 7/22/2009 9:59:41 AM , Rating: 2
This is actually a good idea for any prototype device capable of transmission. The antennae could be dual-purposed to amp up an RFID signal which could be triggered by receipt of another predetermined RFID key. This would allow you to effectively 'ping' the device wirelessly, using existing infrastructure and triangulate its location. So long as it in a state that is capable of transmission...


By xsilver on 7/22/2009 6:15:43 AM , Rating: 1
yawn - you're the one thats "freaking" out defending yourself?

and you're arguing over a moot point as I pointed out in the 3 point "presentation" that you didnt understand?

its like arguing that your ferrari is faster when you've lost the keys and have no gas...


By Iaiken on 7/22/2009 10:01:03 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not the one aggressively attacking other people in order to make myself look smart in the eyes of the intertron...

you... switch...decaf... :P


By xsilver on 7/22/2009 4:55:53 PM , Rating: 2
aggressively attacking? if I need to switch to decaf then you need to find a way out of that padded cell...

plus this is a TECH FORUM. If you come here and say something wrong about TECH related stuff then expect to be corrected. Im not here to tell you your hair smells good lol.

this is on top of you trying to make a moot point because the phone wouldnt have a sim in it anyways. I made it abundantly clear above but I guess that doesnt matter.


By nayy on 7/21/2009 11:22:20 AM , Rating: 5
Yeah except that American workers are not kidnapped, threatened with life time sentence and possibly tortured if something goes wrong. We don't really know how bad this guy had it, he was being used as an example to prevent leaks from happening again.


By jonmcc33 on 7/21/2009 11:27:24 AM , Rating: 3
This is why you always carry a gun. Three people break into my home? They are all dead men.


By xsilver on 7/21/2009 1:00:03 PM , Rating: 3
i liked that movie too....

hero dies in the end though right?

Plus they dont really have to break in, 3 co-workers come knocking on your door in a friendly manner and ask to chat about the missing phone. You sit them down for a spot of tea and bam - 2 of them jump you. Probably saw that in a movie too...


By knutjb on 7/22/2009 4:41:26 AM , Rating: 2
Those 3 co-workers weren't "co-workers" they were a security goon squad run amok.


By erple2 on 7/21/2009 4:12:37 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but according to at least one non-verified sources - if you kill a person in China, you will be put to death. Circumstances generally don't matter that much. So killing them means that you are killing yourself.


By The0ne on 7/21/2009 8:08:15 PM , Rating: 3
Of my businesses with CM factories in China, not once have I seen employees this "under pressure" to want to kill themselves. China, again, is just lying through their teeth. Employees aren't satisfied but most are not going to kill themselves over it. Japan, I can believe because heck even kids kill themselves for not making it into a good university.

This whole story smells of foul play but ultimately nothing is going to happen because the government and the company don't want to get a bad reputation from it. Imagine that, bad reputation vs someone's life. Apple will still be using Foxxcon as usual and many other companies will do the same thing. Pretty sad place if you think about it.


By alexfenway on 7/22/2009 10:47:47 PM , Rating: 2
Scary thing working in companies like that. Maybe he should of just taken a few of those, and headed for the thai border with hopes of making some money off the new tech.


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