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Apple CEO Tim Cook (L) and Vice Premier Li Keqiang (R)  (Source:
Cook likely made the trip to counter negative reports about the conditions of Apple's plants in China

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently took a trip to China to meet with Vice Premier Li Keqiang and to also visit Apple's new Foxconn Zhengzhou iPhone plant.

Earlier this week, Cook met with Vice Premier Li Keqiang in order to discuss trade and economic cooperation between China and the United States. According to Xinhuanet, the vice premier asked that companies around the world "expand cooperation with China, actively participate in the development of the western part of China, pay more attention to caring for workers and share development opportunities with the Chinese side."

Cook responded positively, saying that Apple would cooperate with China and abide by requests to up Apple's participation in development in China. Likewise, Li said the Chinese government would conduct technological innovation and augment domestic demands.

After meeting with Li, Cook went on to take a tour of Apple's latest iPhone production facility in Zhengzhou. The Foxconn Zhengzhou iPhone plant in newly built and has 120,000 employees.

Cook likely made the trip due to the negative report that The New York Times published earlier this year. In January, NYT blasted Apple in its second installment of the iEconomy series, which focused on the poor treatment and harsh working conditions that employees at Apple's suppliers' Chinese factories must endure. The report cited problems like long hours, exhaustion, lengthy overtime, unsafe working environments, underage employment, and crowded living conditions at these factories. In addition, the report noted that Apple was made aware of these violations on an annual basis since 2007, but never did anything to stop it.

Apple CEO Tim Cook tours Foxconn's Zhengzhou iPhone plant [Source: Bloomberg]

Cook was outraged by the claims, saying that Apple cares about each and every one of its employees whether they're in the United States or overseas. Cook even sent an email to all Apple employees explaining what happened, and telling them that the company cares for them. Apple even signed up to join the Fair Labor Association (FLA) in January, which subjects all of Apple's plants to random inspections.

Later, in February, the FLA visited Apple's Foxconn factories in China and said that the employees were not being pushed to their limits or working in harsh conditions. In fact, the FLA referred to the facilities as "first class."

Nevertheless, Cook likely wants to show that he is making an effort to check up on these facilities in question himself, and to create stronger ties with China along the way.

Sources: xinhuanet, Bloomberg

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RE: Staged?
By retrospooty on 3/29/2012 11:33:25 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. I have been in many manufacturing plants in my life. Believe me, any time a tour or an inspection or any VIP visit, they take alot of time to clean up and make things appear perfect.

RE: Staged?
By Tony Swash on 3/29/2012 12:27:46 PM , Rating: 2
One way to find out more is to see what independent investigative journalists have come with: /tech-blog/2012-03-20-now-can-we-start-talking-abou t-the-real-foxconn/
(take out spaces to around DTs spam filter)

RE: Staged?
By retrospooty on 3/29/2012 12:46:12 PM , Rating: 2
YEs, but it means nothing. These independant tour/inspections are the same. They clean things up when a tour is coming.

I am not knocking Apple for foxconn's manufacturing/HR issues. I am not even knocking Foxconn... All I am saying is that factory tours are pretty pointless if the gaol is to find any negative issues that are suspected. They will carefully hide anything that might be looked upon in a bad light. All manufacturers do that.

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