Print 126 comment(s) - last by Pythias.. on Jul 28 at 8:51 PM

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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What a mess...
By rameshms on 7/21/2009 12:42:52 PM , Rating: 2
RIP Yong Dun San.

Foxconn now has to deal with the employee suicide (murder?) along with the investigation of missing iPhone. Dealing with the local police is probably not going to be big issue for them. However Apple is going to be on their backs for missing phone & the bad PR surrounding this story. I hope Apple punishes foxconn where it hurts most by taking away the business.

RE: What a mess...
By Boze on 7/22/2009 2:38:56 AM , Rating: 3
Well you can go ahead and kiss that pipe dream goodbye. I don't know how much Apple makes off iPhones, but I can tell you right now its worth far more than one human life. I'm sure this comment'll get modded down, since a lot of DailyTech readers love truth, but hate reality... and the reality of it is that Foxconn could throw a baby off their corporate headquarters and Apple would still use them as a supplier.

Especially if it was a meat-eating baby whose parents don't drive hybrids... Apple fans would probably view that as a great victory.

RE: What a mess...
By Chocobollz on 7/23/2009 1:44:09 PM , Rating: 2
I hope Apple punishes foxconn where it hurts most by taking away the business.

I pretty much doubt they would do that because as you may already know, they certainly don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk (quoted from Steve Jobs himself). I bet they also can't make a $200 phone that's not a piece of junk, that's why they outsourced it to Foxconn. I think the whole problems with their inability to make a $500 computer which isn't junk lies in their greeds; the unusually high profit margin they demanded. How can they make a $500 computer which is not junk if they take 50% profit margin on it? That would make it an approximately $333.33 computer! LOL

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