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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 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.


"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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