Foxconn’s giant factory in Zhengzhou which makes half of the world's iPhones (Photo: Twitter/@applenws)
In China, droves of migrant workers have been fleeing back to their hometowns from the country’s largest iPhone factory in Covid-hit Zhengzhou, amidst a lockdown triggered by the Covid outbreak.
“Workers have broken out of #Apple’s largest assembly site, escaping the Zero #Covid lockdown at Foxconn in #Zhengzhou. After sneaking out, they’re walking to hometowns more than 100 kilometers away to beat the Covid app measures designed to control people and stop this. #China,” tweeted Stephen McDonell, BBC’s correspondent in China. Videos shared on Chinese social media showed people jumping a fence outside the plant, owned by manufacturer Foxconn, in the central city of Zhengzhou.
Workers have broken out of #Apple’s largest assembly site, escaping the Zero #Covid lockdown at Foxconn in #Zhengzhou. After sneaking out, they’re walking to home towns more than 100 kilometres away to beat the Covid app measures designed to control people and stop this. #China pic.twitter.com/NHjOjclAyU
— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) October 30, 2022
It was previously reported that a number of workers had been placed under quarantine because of an outbreak of the disease.
According to McDonell, Zhengzhou Foxconn hires approximately around 300,000 workers and makes half of the world’s iPhones. Amidst Covid lockdown chaos and food shortages, videos on Douyin, a Chinese video hosting service shows many migrant workers from within Henan province returning home on foot… as no public transport is available due to the lockdown.
Since Saturday, photographs and videos circulating on Chinese social media have appeared to show Foxconn workers returning home, trekking across fields during the day and along roads at night.
Pictures also show local residents near the highway set up free supply stations to help Foxconn workers. Without help from the government or Foxconn, all they can rely on is the kindness of strangers.
Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, reported 167 locally transmitted Covid cases in the seven days to 29 October, up from 97 infections in the previous seven-day period. The city of about 10 million people was partially locked down as a result, as China continues to use strict lockdown measures to deal with Covid – the zero-Covid policy.
Foxconn, which acts as a supplier to US-based Apple, has hundreds of thousands of workers at its Zhengzhou complex and has not provided an official count of how many are infected. Under China’s strict zero-Covid policy, cities are given powers to act swiftly to quell any outbreaks of the virus. This includes anything from full-scale lockdowns to regular testing and travel restrictions.
Many had hoped President Xi would drop the legislation before the end of the year but at the recent 20th Communist Party congress, he made clear this was unlikely to happen anytime soon.