A Reuters reporter tried to photograph, from the street, a Foxconn plant that was rumored to be manufacturing parts for Apple products. Foxconn guards chased him, stopped the taxi he tried to escape in, and tried to drag him into the factory while beating him.
Who saved the reporter? Chinese police, who had to remind Foxconn guards that it is legal to take pictures from a public street.
In China, a Reuters reporter found out the hard way how seriously some Apple suppliers take security.
Tipped by a worker outside the Longhua complex that a nearby Foxconn plant was manufacturing parts for Apple too, our correspondent hopped in a taxi for a visit to the facility in Guanlan, which makes products for a range of companies.
As he stood on the public road taking photos of the front gate and security checkpoint, a guard shouted. The reporter continued snapping photos before jumping into a waiting taxi. The guard blocked the vehicle and ordered the driver to stop, threatening to strip him of his taxi license.
The correspondent got out and insisted he was within his rights as he was on the main road. The guard grabbed his arm. A second guard ran over, and with a crowd of Foxconn workers watching, they tried dragging him into the factory.
The reporter asked to be let go. When that didn’t happen, he jerked himself free and started walking off. The older guard kicked him in the leg, while the second threatened to hit him again if he moved. A few minutes later, a Foxconn security car came along but the reporter refused to board it. He called the police instead.
After the authorities arrived and mediated, the guards apologized and the matter was settled. The reporter left without filing a complaint, though the police gave him the option of doing so.
“You’re free to do what you want,” the policeman explained, “But this is Foxconn and they have a special status here. Please understand.”
The rest of the article is quite interesting and asserts that Apple’s obsession with secrecy permeates into its supply chain, causing each supplier to be extremely stringent with their employees and goods.
Last year, a Foxconn employee in China jumped to his death, reportedly after being interrogated by his employer on suspicion of sneaking out an iPhone prototype. The blame can’t be placed all on Apple, as this Reuters article from July 2009 points out: Chinese counterfeiters, and lack of enforcement of intellectual property laws, makes the theft of product a bit more damaging to the bottom line.
As for whether secrecy itself makes an Apple product more desirable…I’ve known about the iPad for a month, with all of its shortcomings. I’m still thinking about getting one. The problem is the product iterations; I waited for the new iPod model because I assumed it had a camera. If it leaked out that the new iPod touch was a minor increment, I would’ve gotten my Canon S90 point-and-shoot a lot earlier…