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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 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.


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