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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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

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.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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